Dubai’s Hunger Games Park Finally Declares Open Season!

The Panem Aerial Tour. (Dubaimotiongate.com)

The Panem Aerial Tour. (Dubaimotiongate.com)

Attention The Hunger Games fans, you can now pretend to be Katniss Everdeen — or Peeta Mellark — and volunteer as tribute in Dubai’s newest attraction.

This Friday, October 20, at Motiongate Park in Dubai, people will get to experience the very first Hunger Games theme park in the Middle East. Basically, you’ll get to relish the atmosphere after you hop on the Capitol Bullet Train, AKA a super fast roller coaster that delivers you from Katniss Everdeen’s house back in District 12 to the Capitol.

via motiongate

You’ll also be able to discover the secret landmarks of the fictional universe Suzanne Collins created via the Panem Arial tour. Oh, and the whole experience is going to be in 3D.

WE SAID THIS: Happy Hunger, and may the odds be ever in your favor. Book your tickets by clicking here.

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Will Mariam Hussein Make Pyjamas Great Again? (Probably Not)

Mariam not in pyjamas. (Instagram)

Mariam not in pyjamas. (Instagram)

Mariam Hussein became the talk of the walk today when she went out for a walk in pyjamas.

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“My word,” exclaimed audiences, witnessing a famous Arab celebrity walk around Dubai in pyjamas. “That celebrity is walking around in pyjamas! Why, I ought to wear pyjamas, too!”

So if you see a bunch of Dubai wannabe superstars walk around in their tighty nighties today, chalk it up to that rebel, Mariam.

Classic Cars and Jewels and the Good Life: This Dubai Cultural Neighbourhood Has it All

It's like James Bond's paradise. (AlSerkalAvenue.ae)

It’s like James Bond’s paradise. (AlSerkalAvenue.ae)

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Alserkal Avenue, Dubai’s vibrant arts and culture neighbourhood, in Al Quoz, is well-known for the contemporary art galleries, community art spaces, artists’ studios, and private museums located in the warehouses within the complex. Here art lovers can find works by contemporary artists from around the world, ranging from paintings, sculptures and photography to videos, installations and kinetic mechanical art devices.

But over the last few years, Alserkal Avenue has added many new creative concepts that celebrate other forms of art, such as contemporary dance, music and design studios, architects’ ateliers, innovative culinary spaces, a pop-up cinema, and a theatre. It also houses spaces that cater to people whose idea of art is a beautiful classic car, a unique piece of hand-crafted jewellery, a handwoven rug, a perfect chocolate, or even a pair of exclusive sneakers.

“Our vision has always been to celebrate creative entrepreneurship, and the new concepts at the Avenue exemplify the exploration of cultural expression and creativity in all forms,” says Abdelmonem Bin Essa Alserkal, founder of Alserkal Avenue.

Akserkal Lates, to be held on September 27 to mark the start of the new art season, is a good time to explore these interesting concepts and experiences, because the Avenue will remain open until 9pm, and come alive with many activities. These include a variety of live performances, culinary offerings, talks, workshops, guided tours of the new exhibitions at the art galleries, and other artistic and cultural activities.

Here’s a guide to some of the unique new spaces at Alserkal Avenue:

Nostalgia Classic Cars

From outside it looks like any other warehouse in the complex but step inside Nostalgia Classic Cars and you will find a beautiful collection of classic cars on display. Nostalgia is the brainchild of Jordanian, Mazin Al Khatib, who gave up his career as an investment banker to turn his passion for collecting and restoring classic cars into a business. “This showroom is the first of its kind in the UAE, and I wanted it to be in Alserkal Avenue because to me classic cars is art,” he says.

In one section of its large showroom, Nostalgia hosts themed classic car exhibitions, as well as corporate and private events. The other section is a warehouse where the rest of the company’s collection of classic cars is on display to the public. Located next door is a workshop that specialises in restoring and maintaining classic cars and is the first of its kind in the GCC region that covers body, mechanical, electrical and upholstery services under one roof. Nostalgia is also the only showroom in the region to provide after-sales service for classic cars such as registration, restoration and servicing. The collection includes rare models such as Ford Model T’s, BMW 3.0CS and CSL, AC Cobra, and Porsche 356, with prices ranging from $50,000 to $100,000.

“We want to focus on selling a reasonably priced selection of famous models to people who are entering the hobby of collecting classic cars, and we are totally geared to cater to the needs of new collectors,” Al Khatib says.

The Jewel Teller

The Jewel Teller is the place to go if you want a unique piece of jewellery, or want to learn about the process of jewellery making. It is the first company in Dubai where fine jewellery is designed, made and showcased under one roof. Susana Martins, co-founder and creative director of the company is an internationally known jewellery designer from Portugal, with experience in every aspect of the industry from goldsmithing and stone setting to product development and trend forecasting.

The in-house Portfolio collections displayed in the showroom are her designs and have been handmade by the master craftsmen working in the adjoining, fully equipped workshop. The company also works on private commissions to create bespoke jewellery. It also collaborates with leading educational organisations and designers to hold a year-round programme of pop-up exhibitions, lectures and workshops on the art and craft of jewellery making.

“This concept was developed specifically for the UAE, and for Alserkal Avenue, because we want our customers to understand the process by which jewellery is made, and see it as an art form, where each piece tells a story,” Martins says.

Sima Performing Arts

This space is home to the well-known Sima Dance Company, founded in Damascus in 2003 by Syrian dancer, choreographer and dance director, Alaa Krimed. It is the leading performance company in the Middle East, comprising talented Arab and international dancers, and a pioneer of contemporary dance in the UAE. Its many achievements include winning MBC’s Arab’s Got Talent, and being invited to perform a dance interpretation of a poem written by Shaikh Sultan Al Qasimi at the opening of the Sharjah Desert Theatre Festival.

The company has converted its warehouse into a training and performance venue, where it offers classes in various contemporary dance styles, and hosts performances by local and international artists, talks, film screenings, and other events. The programme for September includes dance sessions for parents and babies, specialised workshops, and Ballet, Hip-Hop, Jazz, Salsa, Tango and contemporary dance classes for all ages and skill levels.

Techarc

Founded by architects Rany Abdin and Qais Abdelrahman, this space is designed to be a one-stop shop for the architectural, art and design community, providing them cutting edge machinery, tools, materials, private studio space, a photography studio for product shoots and meeting rooms. These facilities are available to students, freelancers, start-ups, and even individuals who simply wish to try their hand at designing something for themselves. Techarc plans to hold a variety of workshops on designing with materials such as wood, concrete and leather. “We came up with this concept because when we were students, we really wished for an interactive, creative environment like this to work on our ideas. We want this space to be a platform for design to flourish, and a hub for learning, sharing and collaborating,” Abdelrahman says.

The Good Life

This concept, launched in Beirut a decade ago, is a top tier sneaker store representing exclusive sneakers from the most sought-after brands, and has been pivotal in developing the sneaker culture in the region. The ‘art’ on display in this store-cum-event venue, includes exclusive updated versions of iconic sneakers from the 1970s and 1980s, including models inspired by Airforce One and Japanese Bullet Trains; special models on loan from the archives of leading sneaker companies and models popularised by celebrities. During the recent release of the Nike Air Max 1X Atmos ‘Elephant Print’, over a hundred ‘sneaker heads’ queued up outside the door overnight to acquire the few pairs available. In a burgeoning market, where a pair of special sneakers can fetch over $100,000 at auctions, the store discourages investors who intend to resell its reasonably priced exclusive models at much higher prices, by its policy of letting each customer buy only one pair in their size only, and insisting that customers walk out of the store wearing the pair they have bought.

“Our customers range from serious collectors to sneaker heads who just drop in to look at our collection, and to chat about sneakers. We want to create a relaxed and welcoming space for everyone, because our focus is on brand relationship, customer education, and building a sneaker community,” Ramzi Barrage, co-founder of the store says.

The Junction

This is a performing arts space made by performers for performers. Since it opened in November 2015, it has hosted a variety of events such as a Capella singing festival, stand-up comedy shows, dance performances, a short film festival, workshops for all ages, and theatrical productions in various languages, including a homegrown play about life in Dubai. It is currently inviting poets, dancers, actors, comedians, filmmakers and other creatives to participate in the Short + Sweet festival.

“The Junction was conceived and built as a space where local and regional talent can thrive, where creators and performers can risk being original, where collaboration and mutual development can occur, and where an appreciation for the arts can be cultivated into bigger audiences,” co-founder Rashmi Kotriwala says.

Chi-Ka

This is a contemporary kimono and art space showcasing one of a kind, hand-crafted, Middle-East inspired kimono-abayas, and cross-cultural artworks.

The Flip Side

This is a hub for music lovers where they can find a wide selection of vinyl records. The store plans to air radio shows, and host DJ sessions, screenings of music related documentaries, music production seminars and live performances by local and regional artistes.

The Odd Piece

This is a furniture gallery specialising in original and antique pieces sourced from around the world and beautifully restored. The store also serves as a gallery for the latest collections from The Rug Company, which include handmade rugs created in collaboration with well-known designers such as Paul Smith and Vivienne Westwood.

Mirzam Chocolate Factory

This heavenly smelling space houses an artisanal chocolate factory. In this glass-fronted, bean-to-bar, production facility, visitors can watch the entire artisanal chocolate production process, from the roasting of the cocoa beans to the wrapping of each bar by hand, while they buy freshly made chocolate bars, or enjoy a cup of hot chocolate.

Hapi

Chef Paul Frangie has combined his passion for healthy food and his holistic approach to wellbeing in this diner-cum-movement facility. Hapi’s ‘eat, move, play’ philosophy aims to inspire the community to live better through good food, mindful exercise and active leisure. The self-service diner with an open kitchen caters to the health conscious with a menu that includes fresh juices, organic bone broth, homemade organic ice-cream, fresh salads, gluten free banana chocolate waffles and grilled meats made from carefully sourced quality ingredients. It’s an eco-friendly space with biodegradable cutlery made from corn starch, and water served on tap to avoid plastic water bottles. The movement facility offers parkour classes for all ages, conducted by ParkourDXB, and yoga sessions by Urban Yoga. There’s also a consultation room, where well-being expert Keith Littlewood offers holistic treatment for issues related to digestion, pain, sleep, hormonal imbalance, and chronic fatigue.

Wild & the Moon

This health food café serves cold pressed juices and smoothies and raw, plant-based foods and desserts that contain no processed foods, refined sugar or dairy products and are gluten free.

Jyoti Kalsi is an arts-enthusiast based in Dubai.

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One of the World’s Best Plays is Coming to Dubai

From the TV adaptation of

From the TV adaptation of “12 Angry Men.” (United Artists)

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Rome

Patricide in ancient Rome carried a cruel and unusual punishment. One would be sealed a sack that contained a variety of animals before being thrown into a river. Thus if the water didn’t drown you, the panicking creatures stuck in your prison certainly would.

These days, the penalty is not quite as harsh.

In the play 12 Angry Men, which runs at The Junction between September 14 and 16, the act of killing one’s father and the thereafter is put in a modern context. A teenager is on trial for the alleged murder of his father and his fate shall rest upon the decision of 12 men — a jury that is compelled to provide the judge with a unanimous verdict.

If the conclusion drawn is one of guilt, he will be sentenced to death.

Written by Reginald Rose in 1954, the play, directed by Chandni Varma, will be performed by a cast of actors from Dubai’s community theatre.

Commenting on the play, Verma said: “I’m quite excited to be finally reaching the stage. It has not been an easy journey. We first auditioned at the end of January 2017 and finalised the initial cast in February 2017 — over half of which has changed by now. From actors dropping out to pre-scheduled vacations and even a postponed performance date — we’ve really stuck to our guns to reach a conclusion, much like the 12 jurors in the play.”

Tickets for the show are Dh100.

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Dubai Loses Nick Jones, but Gets Stormzy Instead

Stormzy. (Christian Bertrand / Shutterstock.com)

Stormzy. (Christian Bertrand / Shutterstock.com)

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Nick Jonas has backed out of a music festival in Dubai, just as up-and-coming rapper Stormzy was added to the line-up.

The Jealous singer was slated to perform on October 27 at the Dubai Autism Rocks Arena as part of the Halloween-themed music festival, Fiesta De Los Muertos.

“I was really looking forward to meeting my fans in Dubai… However, I regret to announce that I am now unable to perform this year. I hope to be a part of the Halloween concert next year,” Jonas said in a press release.

The English virtual band Gorillaz and Lebanese-Canadian R’n’B singer Massari will still perform. The concert will include sets by Consoul Trainin, Arcade 82 and The Mariachis.

Thomas Ovesen, CEO of event organiser 117Live, said the artist cancellation was due to ‘unforeseen scheduling issues’.

“We have been informed by Nick Jonas that he will no longer be able to perform at Fiesta De Los Muertos. He has assured that he will do his very best to return to Dubai to be part of the 2018 edition of this great festival,” said Ovesen.

Asked whether they will be offering refunds, a media representative told Gulf News tabloid! that organisers don’t believe fans will be requesting refunds. The representative said the announcement of Stormzy, as well as further artist announcements, would only increase the demand for tickets.

TAKEN BY STORM

The 24-year-old grime and hip hop artist Stormzy will join the festival’s line-up, which many fans had predicted on social media ahead of the announcement.

The up-and-coming singer has been making waves in the industry since his 2015 hit single, Shut Up. Earlier this year, he released the album Gang Signs & Prayer and won the BET Award for Best International Act: Europe.

“We are so excited to be adding one of the most in demand rap, grime and hip hop artists to our festival and know the regional fans will share our excitement as we have had thousands of requests, emails and calls asking us to feature Stormzy at the event,” said Ovesen.

Fiesta De Los Muertos held its inaugural gig last year, with a headlining performances from DNCE, the electro-dance group headed by Joe Jonas, Nick Jonas’s older brother.

“[Joe] told me it was one of his favourite shows. He told me I should not miss this opportunity to come down to Dubai, see the fans and play for them. My friends who have been to Dubai have given me a list of places to visit,” the younger brother told Gulf News tabloid! in July.

Tickets to attend Fiesta De Los Muertos this year begin from Dh350 for regular standing. Fan pit standing tickets, which are Dh995, include a festival merchandise item, early access to the venue, and entry into a meet and greet raffle to meet the artists, including Gorillaz and Stormzy, prior to general doors open time.

Fans can also purchase VIP platform tickets for Dh995, which include an F&B voucher worth Dh100.

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This Dubai Exhibition is Showcasing the Clash Between Urban Life and People

Boris Wilensky,

Boris Wilensky, “Enter the Void.” (Boris Wilensky)

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French photographer Boris Wilensky is well known for his portraits of hip-hop singers and professional boxers. But he now uses photography to create art that raises awareness about contemporary issues that are impacting our lives and our planet. In his first exhibition in the UAE, Hurban Vortex, Wilensky is presenting images from a project for which he was awarded the Prix du Jury Professionnel Paris Artistes in 2016. The Hurban Vortex project was inspired by two trips Wilensky made to Tokyo in 2009 and 2011, before and after the Fukushima disaster. It includes three distinct series, titled Origins, Collapse and Post, that speak about the long-term effect of excessive urbanisation on human beings and our planet.

The word Hurban in the title is a combination of the words ‘human’ and ‘urban’; and this blending is also echoed in the images, where the artist has superimposed portraits of people onto urban landscapes, to depict the fusion and friction between humanity and urbanisation. The show, curated by Okarys Art Leads, features selected images from all three series, inviting viewers to reflect on the place of human beings in a bruised ecosystem, but also holding out hope for a future where humanity triumphs over urbanisation.

“It is difficult to retain your humanity when you live in a big city. In this project, I used the ‘surimpression’ technique to superimpose portraits of people onto images of cities, which symbolise modernity and progress, to show how the two elements meet, connect and clash in the chaotic, turbulent vortex of the urban environment. I hope these artworks will make people stop and think about where we are headed, and what kind of future we want for ourselves and our planet,” Wilensky says.

The project was inspired by the difference he saw in Tokyo between his first visit in 2009, and the next one in 2011 after the Fukushima disaster. “On the first trip, I encountered a megalopolis that was overcrowded, immersed in the excess of limitless consumption, and bustling 24/7 with life and energy. But when I returned two years later the city seemed to be darker – figuratively and literally. There were fewer lights because of the impact of the disaster on the power grid, and there was a sadness on the faces of the people. For the first time, the Japanese people were out on the streets participating in massive demonstrations against nuclear energy. Something had changed in their minds, and they began questioning whether this kind of progress is good for them. Watching all this made me think about our blind faith in modernity and progress, which is making us less human, and about ways to visually depict the origin, consequence and future of this confrontation between humanity and urbanisation,” he says.

The first series in this project, Origins presents vignettes from daily life in a modern metropolis such as Tokyo. Images of tall skyscrapers, traffic jams, shops filled with consumer goods, and the bright lights of the city at night are juxtaposed with pictures of people of different ages going about their daily routines, such as commuting to work on the Metro, listening to music, or playing in the park. The colourful, composite images capture the sights, sounds and energy of Tokyo, that Wilensky experienced on his first visit.

The mood is different in the other two series. For this part of the project Wilensky travelled to Tokyo, Shanghai and Bangkok, cities that signify modernity to him, and took hundreds of photographs of the steel and glass buildings, congested streets, ubiquitous billboards, endless streams of vehicles, network of wires and cables running overhead, and dark, lonely underground parking lots. He then spent two months travelling on his motorcycle through the countryside in Cambodia, interacting closely with the people and immersing himself in the Khmer culture, returning with hundreds of portraits of ordinary Cambodians.

In the Collapse series, he has juxtaposed the urban background with images of Cambodians wearing cracked welding glasses and gas masks, which give the images a sinister feel.

“The concept behind this series was inspired by the Japanese mythological story of the Namazu – a giant catfish that causes earthquakes. According to this story the fish lives in the mud under the islands of Japan, and is kept in control by god Kashima, who restrains it with a stone. But when the god lets his guard down, the Namazu thrashes about causing violent earthquakes, and it is believed that someday this will lead to Japan being submerged underwater. Through these images I wanted to show that the constant competition between economy and ecology is leading us to a frightening future,” Wilensky says.

“I specially went to Cambodia for this series because I wanted portraits of people who are unaffected by city life, and have not lost their humanity. I spent time with each of my subjects, talking to them, telling them about the project and involving them in a collaborative process. It was a challenge for me to shoot portraits of people who had their eyes and faces covered, but the dehumanisation conveys a dire warning about the consequences of our mindless rush towards what we think is progress,” he adds.

The third part of the project, Post offers a more positive outlook. Here, the images in the background were shot in old areas of Shaghai that have been neglected and forgotten in the push for urban expansion, and construction of bigger and taller skyscrapers. The crumbling buildings and empty streets seem to be a fading memory of the past. But the portraits of people superimposed on this grey landscape are in sharp focus. You can see every line on the wizened faces, and the warmth and humanity in their eyes, as they look towards the future with a smile.

“The Post series is about a post-modern world in a faraway future when cities will cease to exist, and humanity will be more important than progress and urbanisation. As the earlier images show, today our identity dissolves at the heart of the tremendous, ever expanding urban and suburban spaces, but I hope in the future human beings will learn to live in harmony with the environment, and redefine our place in the natural world,” Wilensky says.

Hurban Vortex will run at La Galerie, Alliance Française Dubai on Oud Metha Road until September 15

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List: 5 Awesome Arabic Shows to Binge-Watch this Eid (For Free!)

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From “Sunset Oasis.” (El Adl Group)

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Well, it’s the second day of Eid—and it’s finally the afternoon. The visits are done. The goat is eaten. And if you have a job, you’re poor as all hell because you’re on the wrong of the eidiyeh.

So what’s there to do apart from catch some awesome stuff on TV?

Here’re some five great shows you can watch over the rest of your weekend. They’re all online, too.

So kick back, take a swig of tea, and settle in with:

Above: Don’t Extinguish the Sun. (CBC Drama)

The story of a family reeling from the death of a father, Don’t Extinguish the Sun is (very) loosely based on the novel by Ihsan Abdel Quddous. It won hearts, minds, and even acclaim for being the only godforsaken show this Ramadan with a stable couple—a love story between two men, of all things. How lovely.

Where you can watch it: MBC Shahid, which does cost money, but also YouTube.

Above: Qomrah 2. (ARAM TV)

The original Qomrah, from Khawater creator Ahmad Shuqairi, requested footage from everyday filmmakers based around topics: marriage, Islam, terrorism. The result, which cut different footage from different films to create thematic cohesion, was mixed, so for this year they went with scripts from amateurs filmed by professional filmmakers. The result is a much stronger second season.

Where you can watch it: It’s all for free on YouTube.

Above: Sunset Oasis. (El Adl Group)

Based off of Bahaa Taher’s beautiful, International Prize for Arabic Fiction-winning novel, Sunset Oasis is about a punished Egyptian soldier sent out with his wife to the middle of nowhere as punishment for his involvement in an uprising against British imperials. The job means almost certain death. Culture and civilization clash in this fantastic adaptation of the novel.

Where you can watch it: YouTube has you covered.

Above: To the Highest Bidder. (El Adl Group)

Starring the indomitable Nelly Karim, To the Highest Bidder is the story of a ballerina who is broken and humiliated, and the burning passion she kindles in pursuit of revenge against her husband. The show struck a chord with Arabic women, who identified with the misogyny it depicted.

Where you can watch it: YouTube, once again, comes to the rescue.

Above: Kafr Delhab. (ON Ent)

In ancient Arabia, a village of sorcerers fights for its survival when one of its members, a young girl, becomes possessed by a djinni. But the djinni decides to fight back, plunging the village into chaos. The show won acclaim and earned high ratings—not only because it was decidedly different, but because it did different well.

Where you can watch it: On YouTube. Isn’t it just the best?

Eid Mubarak, everyone.

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