Monday, February 26, 2024 | Daily Newspaper published by GPPC Doha, Qatar.
 Muhammad Asad Ullah
Muhammad Asad Ullah
Muhammad Asad Ullah is one of the brightest new crop of journalists on the Doha scene. With a penchant for showbiz stories and a rover's eye on fashion. He's the whiz kid of the team with experience of both print and digital media.
Snapshots from the fashion event organised by Maserati Qatar. PICTURES: Jayan Orma
Traditional silhouettes on catwalk at Maserati Qatar fashion show

The best collections at a fashion show are the innovative ones, playing along the lines of international appeal but still encapsulating the traditional silhouettes and crafts. There are pretty designer wears and wearable ones but then there are those that push the fashion envelope, setting aside any commercial concerns and diving into a new blend of colour, craft or technique. Experimenting with fabric and couture is the haute trend in fashion but creating wearable pieces with edgy structure is what makes a designer a fashion aficionado. Qatar’s fashion industry, too, enjoys these moments and often delivers a heady whiff of innovative fashion. Maserati Qatar recently organised a fashion event at its showroom, The Pearl-Qatar, featuring an exclusive Ramadan collection by Qatari designer label Al Bacarrat Fashion. Amid the traditional late dinner, exclusively for women only, the event was organised by Ali al-Sayer, fashion director. The hair and makeup was done by Maison De Joelle Qatar. The collection had a bohemian tribal vibe, a laidback glamour that screamed “easy breezy”, clothes for the modern girl who loves fast fashion even in her formal evening wear and wardrobe. Traditional embroideries were placed in unconventional ways around necklines, pockets and chiffon gowns that were sewn with perfection for a flowing silhouette. There were vivid tie-n-dyes, block prints, gota, pearls, and dashes of brocade and while one is familiar with all these design elements, Bacarrat’s prowess lies in breathing new life into them. The colour play, the geometric patchwork, the mix of gota-pearl-print-embroidery and the cutting-edge, neat silhouettes all worked out into a line that proves that the designer is quite there to make to the top of its game. Many Kaftan-like pieces caterwauled modest fashion. Nothing too revealing, nothing too under the fabric. It was a perfect balance that started with vertical linings in blue, transformed into grey and ended with the tail of black. The knee length gowns with tukri, gota and mirror-work, the capes and the shirts glistening with heavy-duty embroideries were beautiful and thematically continued to follow the ‘folk’ theme, but sometimes one could feel a bit too much of hanging tassels and applique work repeated on net, repeatedly. And that is a wrap, fashion wise. One can perhaps sit back and say that now the fashion episode have ended finally for the season; that started off with Fashion Trust Arabia and was followed by the Heya exhibition. Or is it? With the lucrative wedding season and Eid right around the corner, one never knows if there’s yet another fashion show ready to unfurl the runway once again, waiting right around the corner.

Maintaining health at home

To achieve any fitness goal, having a well-drawn plan is the key. But if you’re fasting during Ramadan, it gets a bit crucial. Aimlessly training without a plan can be dangerous and also put your results on the back burner. The holy month should not be when you give up on your fitness goals. Rather, make Ramadan a time to recharge so you can hit the gym strong after these four weeks, keeping yourself fit at core and just maintaining enough stamina to increase your metabolism. Consuming large quantities of food or an unbalanced diet for Iftar – mostly fried food, can often lead to upset stomach or in most cases over-eating. Ramadan is the time when one cannot really count on the intake of calories, often leading to weight gain and obesity as well. But, this Ramadan, Bia Feroz, aspirational athlete, speaks to Community and instructs the right way of doing some beginner exercises at home, before Iftar. These exercises do not require some external equipment, but internal strength of perseverance and belief of keeping one’s mind and body healthy. “Exercising and fasting can go together, there’s absolutely no harm in it. Exercise while fasting may actually keep your brain active and healthy. When we exercise during fasting, it essentially forces our body to shed fat, as our body’s fat burning processes are controlled by sympathetic nervous system, which in turn is activated by exercise and lack of food,” says Bia. The best timing for indulging in these exercises? Bia says, “After the Taraweeh prayers at the night and an hour before Iftar. Exercising an hour before breaking the fast rejuvenates the body immediately.” Since high intensity exercises that throw the pulse rate to above 150 per minute are advised to be avoided during fasting in Ramadan, slow and moderate exercises are preferred. Here are three exercises Bia Feroz suggests for more sustainability and strength of the core.  Air Squats: Stand with your feet a little wider than hip-width apart, your toes turned out slightly and your arms resting at your sides. Engage your abdominal muscles and broaden across your chest by gently pulling your shoulder blades in towards each other. Bend your knees slowly, pushing your butt and hips out and down behind you as if you are sitting down into a chair. Keep your head and shoulders aligned over your knees and your knees aligned over your ankles. Tense your abs like someone is about to punch you.  Planks: Start on the floor on your hands and knees. Lower your forearms to the floor with elbows positioned under your shoulders and your hands shoulder-width apart, forming 90 degree angle from the side. Step your feet back, one at a time. Maintain a straight line from heels through the top of your head, looking down at the floor, with gaze slightly in front of your face.  Burpees: Bend over or squat down and place your hands on the floor in front of you, just outside of your feet. Jump both feet back so that you’re now in plank position. Drop to a push-up, your chest should touch the floor. You can also drop to your knees here, which makes the impending push-up easier. Push up to return to plank position. Jump the feet back in toward the hands and explosively jump into the air, reaching your arms straight overhead.

COMPASSIONATE: Sharice says that a conscious fasting develops a sense of compassion in an individual especially towards the needy and poor along with spiritual well-being.
Non-muslim expat celebrates Ramadan with perseverance

Ramadan is not just a month of hunger for Muslims. Considered to be the holiest month of the year for Muslims, this month goes far beyond fasting before sunrise to sunset. It is a month for spiritual connection, self discipline, reconnecting to faith and religious practices, remembering those who are less fortunate, and spending time with family. With about 7.6 billion people in the world, around 24% of them, 1.8 billion, are fasting from sunup to sundown. Every day. For an entire month. In a population of about 2.74 million people in Qatar, more than 80% being expatriates from different countries around the world, the religious spread of the population residing in Qatar is split at roughly 67.7% Muslims and 32.3% population belonging to other religions.  In a Muslim majority country, Ramadan is celebrated with a passion of longing and love. But what if you’re not a Muslim – just a caring, considerate person. How do non-Muslim expatriates in Qatar spend their Ramadan? Sharice Tan, a makeup artist from Philippines residing in Doha for the previous 10 years, talks to Community about cherishing the month of Ramadan and standing side-by-side with her Muslim friends and acquaintances.  The Islamic holy month of Ramadan is a time for Muslims all over the world to renew their focus on spiritual life and its practical application in daily life. Sharice completely agrees that a conscious fasting develops a sense of compassion in an individual especially towards the needy and poor along with spiritual well-being. Over to Sherice, “Ramadan is a holy month for Muslims as they show their submission to their higher authority, Allah, through fasting. Living in Qatar for 10 years with Islam as the state religion, I’ve had my fair share in witnessing this most sacred month of Muslims — I believe that it should be seen with admiration and respect as we observe this type of sacrifice despite our differences of beliefs and spiritual principles,” she says.  Where Ramadan is a time of increased devotion and moral conduct, there’s a considerable change in the working routines and schedule of people for an entire month as well – to make sure that work timings do not clash with the prayer timings of the ones fasting. Office hours are waned and so are the timings for other businesses. “Ramadan does affect people’s regular routine because of the change of environment including the work and public timings, the observance of fasting and several aspects of how people and things work around the city,” says Sherice on how Ramadan affects people’s regular routine and businesses. She adds, “I mainly work in film and TVC productions and this means that projects are less in Ramadan because shoots are tough physically and mentally. The workload is far less then regular in Ramadan. Moreover, from the previous years, Ramadan has been on the same time as summer season and because of these two challenging factors, lots of projects and work are loafed.” Sherice also appreciates the spirit of socialising and networking in Ramadan. She has been regularly taking part in Suhoors and Iftars with her friends, as a moral support to them and their beliefs. She says, “It has been a yearly occasion for me to join in selected Iftars and Suhoors, especially that the hotels here in Doha tries to top up their Ramadan tents from their last year’s outputs, both food wise and aesthetics decoration wise.”

PROMISING DEBUT: Student of the Year 2 proves to be a promising debut for Ananya Panday, left, and Tara Sutaria. Their brief is to be pouty and attractive, which they manage to do with commendable performances.
It’s an A-Grade for students

Nothing is excess for Karan Johar till it is all about beautiful people and expensive things – designer bags, labels and an attitude that can raze the wrath. Johar creates a quixotic world full of such content and high in emotions way too well. The world has moved on in the seven years since the phat college caper Student of The Year (2012) that launched the careers of Alia Bhatt, Varun Dhawan and Sidharth Malhotra and so has Johar and his filmmaking, for good. Where the first part of the franchise caterwauled glamour all along, even in the tiny bits, Karan has played sensibly with this one. Directed by Punit Malhotra, nothing seems too vacuous and over-designed, it’s all within the limits which is what holds the essence of the film. Loose ends? Yes – a bit, but come-on that’s with every other Bollywood entertainer. The actors in the follow-up, Student of the Year 2, are a fresh bunch led by Tiger Shroff paired with Ananya Panday and Tara Sutaria – millennial cast with a sexy appeal to their acting.  Much to the joy of SOTY fans like myself, we are happy to pronounce that the second edition is equally glossy and picture perfect. Rohan Sachdev played by Tiger Shroff and Manav Singhania, played by Aditya Seal, spend an entire academic year preparing for the prestigious Student of the Year Competition, that can merely be achieved by winning a Kabbadi match. The only thing which wasn’t really striking was, why a huge trophy in college without even a whiff of academics in general? I agree, in the first part there was all that pizzazz glamour and Hermes bags, but there was also an entire sound track which was about academics and doing well in the aptitude test to qualify to take part in Student of the Year Competition in the first place. Something that should have been included in this franchise as well. However, KJo did his bit of promoting the lesser popular sport. He infused a cool factor to the game with his players doing back flips and slow-mo jumps. Manav Singhania is a rich brat, while Rohan is a middle-class scholarship student, who barely makes it to Saint Teresa, IVY school, on sports quota just for the sake of his girlfriend Mia, played by Tara Sutaria, to be closer to her. Like Rahul and Anjali in Kuch Kuch Hota Hai, the story of Rohan and Mia’s love, friendship and falling out is a school legend. But the pretzel is the introduction of Manav in the love triangle at first, which fades away post intermission and you see a whole new love triangle in the making.  Where three fall apart, with well-done fight sequences, Shreya, played by Ananya, takes the screen space with Rohan and you know the rest. Ananya is Manav’s younger sister and in the first half of the film is presented as the spoiled mean girl. She’s the leading lady; carries Louis Vuitton bags and wears Dolce and Gabbana. She’s like Shanaya (Alia Bhatt from Student of the Year) but without the killer attitude. Shreya is substituting her lack of family ties with designer labels and snobbish setting. All three, Rohan, Mia and Shreya, might be emotionally damaged but their physical perfection is established with numerous shots. This is youth without awkwardness or vulnerability.  There are ‘two’ many love triangles. Too often, the storyline is swallowed up by the overwhelming gloss, perfect styling and set-piece songs. Drawing a parallel where the competition in first part was so silly and shallow that it was hard to take any of it seriously, but this time it is out-done. The Kabbadi sequences are well-shot and athletic in every sense.  Yet, Karan creates moments that are genuinely moving and humorous. Karan also deserves applause for putting his faith in new actors every time. He elicits commendable performances from his cast of debutants. Tara and Ananya’s brief is to be pouty and attractive, which they manage to do. And Tiger has evolved in appearance and acting and on big screen it’s a treat to watch him. Student of the Year 2 is a love story that traverses the trodden path (a high school romance). But KJo is an artisan with intellect and taste and he ensures that the script is spruced up and modernised with such elan that it doesn’t offend the spectator’s wisdom or intelligence. The accomplished director takes on familiar material and gives it an entirely new twirl.  Do not miss a second of the song Yeh Jawani to get a glimpse of Will Smith’s Bollywood cameo and also wait for the credits at the end of the film to see Alia Bhatt in a spooky hot item number – which is nothing but something haute all the way. 

Photo by Syed Hasan Iqbal Zaidi
Finding light within

“You have learnt so much. And read a thousand books. Have you ever read yourself? You have gone to mosques. Have you ever visited your own soul? You are busy fighting Satan. Have you ever fought your ill intentions? You have reached into the skies, But you have failed to reach what’s in your heart!” says Syed Abdullah Shah Qadri, popularly known as Bulleh Shah, a Mughal-era Punjabi Islamic philosopher and preacher poet. These verses from Shah’s poetry exemplifies how exactly we should keep up with the spirit of Ramadan, how we need to find that positive light in our heart in the first place to drive us for the greater good. What is a pure heart? The pure ones are those who clean themselves from sin, doubt, cheating, lying, and jealousy. That’s pretty much the very first step – the light to shed off the barriers of sins, finding peace within and then heading towards Almighty for forgiveness and a spiritual quest.  These lanterns in the desert are just like that – that little light of faith that breaks up the vehement darkness of the night. If you have faith from within, nothing can tear you apart.  Have you ever wondered, why lanterns become so popular during the time of Ramadan? Because they have been exemplifying breaking the tangent of darkness and spreading light – just like the holy month of Ramadan for years, in which the Ultimate Guidance for mankind  — the Holy Qur’an — was revealed.  It is believed that the tradition of lantern was started in Egypt more than a thousand years ago when lanterns were used by people to light their homes and the streets at night. Lanterns have always been spreading the light. You need to find a spark of positive light in your heart and you’ll accomplish His contentment.  – Text by Muhammad Asad Ullah, photos by Syed Hasan Iqbal Zaidi

CULTURAL EXCHANGE: Campagnia B, Theatrical Production House from Italy, in association with Italian Chamber of Commerce Qatar, recently presented a short play u2018The Dress of Memoriesu2019, which was followed by a photo and traditional costume exhibition and u2018pecorino sardou2019 cheese tasting.
Italian heritage: rich and relatable

In Anglo-American countries, in Asia, and especially in Middle Eastern countries like Qatar, if any label says ‘Made in Italy’ it has immediate connotations of beauty and chic. The phrase, in fact, resonates with the hundreds of years of Italy’s cultural and artistic heritage, which even today continues to attract and fascinate travellers, consumers and curious art lovers worldwide. Where the runway shows of international designers and international films often draw an inspiration from Italian art, the manner in which Italy, Italian things, and the Italian language are portrayed and exploited as a signi?er of the chic and the stylish, leads one to take notice that the association of Italy with style has a long history, deep roots that reach down well beyond the immediate past. Think cultural legacy, think Italy. From Pompeii to the Colosseum, from Venice to Florence, the country’s massive tourism industry thrives on its heritage. Italy boasts more than 200,000 archaeological, monumental and architectural sites, without considering areas of major interest in terms of their landscape, environment, culture and traditions. Its 53 Unesco World Heritage sites, more than any other country in the world, is a sheer proof for us for its rich heritage appeal and amidst those cultural sites and archaeological importance lies the Island of Sardinia.  Sardinia is the rugged Mediterranean island that became a white-hot jet set destination in the Sixties, lapped by eye-popping aquamarine waters. The landscape of Sardinia is paradisiacal, but mastic trees gnarled with age and ruins, more than 7,000 ‘beehive tombs,’ or Nuraghes, tower throughout the island, suggest a hard-earned wisdom. In between those beehive tombs still exists a heritage and cultural values – worth sharing with the world.  Although the world has heard quite often about the island via notable personality spottings, from George and Amal Clooney, Rihanna to Elton John and Barack Obama spending summer holidays, the world doesn’t really know about the heritage importance and history the island preserves in itself. The island has not yet been discovered with that aspect. Keeping the narrative on hand and to create awareness about Sardinian culture, Campagnia B, Theatrical Production House from Italy, in association with Italian Chamber of Commerce Qatar, recently presented a short play ‘The Dress of Memories’, which was followed by a photo and traditional costume exhibition and ‘pecorino sardo’ cheese tasting at Al Mirqab Boutique Hotel, Souq Waqif. The play was a romantic journey set in the era of World War I; a conversation between a husband heading for the war and his invisible wife, hesitant of seeing him off for a battle of life. How he tries to convince his wife to keep up with the society and her happiness during his absence and his promise of returning alive takes the centre stage. The plot is an intense drama as it touches the base of tearing families and loved ones amidst war and the agonising decision for leaving everything and everyone behind for their own welfare and betterment. It’s a two-man show but the expressions of both the protagonists speak volume. The play also highlights the love of Sardinian women with the fabric of silk and colours. “It’s an authentic Italian performance. The story is about the relationship between a man and his wife during the First World War and the conversations that they have about the fact that he had been conscripted to go to fight in the war. They speak about the dress of the woman and the meaning that they attribute to those clothes as well as all the stories and the memories related to the clothes that they are wearing,” said Alice Capitanio, scriptwriter and director of the play.  The photo exhibition featured photographs of the models dressed in traditional Sardinian silhouettes of the 19th Century to display a connection for how heritage and culture remains relevant in every period of time. The pleated skirt with minimalistic lined straw hat is still wearable. Isn’t it? Well the photo exhibition was a definite proof that it still is. Talking about the Island of Sardinia and its recent developments on the international scope, Palma Libotte, Chairperson of the Italian Chamber of Commerce, said, “Sardinia is the second largest island in the Mediterranean and a very popular holiday destination, thanks to its beautiful sea and eco-system. The main asset of the island is its hospitality and tourism. In 2017, 14 million people visited the island. The most exclusive location of Sardinia is Costa Smeralda and since Qatar has invested in it, there has been a further growth of +5.2% for the summer season 2019. The growth potential is enormous. For some years now, Qatar has made significant investments in this beautiful Island that remains the favourite destination of the international Jet Set. There have been investments for more than one hundred million euros. 120mn of investment are planned until 2023.”

BRIDAL WEAR: Shahla Chatoor recently joined the bandwagon of solo shows this year after her successful departure last year, with a showcase of her bridal collection u2018Aksu2019 at Old Custom House Karachi.
High voltage haute appeal

Fashion weeks are an exhausting business for anyone involved enough to be working full time on them. Behind the plethora of perfect pictures, red carpet razzmatazz and general all round brouhaha, is hours, days and months of work and a tonne of blood sweat and tears. Now that’s for a fashion week where around 30 designers are showcasing over a period of about two to three days. But what if it’s a solo runway show, especially crafted for your designs and label? Multiply everything with ten and then add some hefty stress because you cannot put anything at risk, especially the reputation of your brand, when you know you and your designs are going to be the centre of attention for the night. There has been a wave of solo shows in Pakistan over the past few years now amidst the quintessential six fashion shows that are organised every year; but solos is for the better. Solo shows give designers a totally different spectrum to put forward their designs and curate exceptional experience for their buyers and fashion savvy clientele. Shahla Chatoor recently joined the bandwagon of solo shows this year after her successful departure last year, with a showcase of her bridal collection ‘Aks’ at Old Custom House Karachi.  All about luxury, using luxurious silks and chiffons that feel and look expensive with sumptuous prints and all kinds of inspiration; intricate work, flawless finishing, well-cut jackets, dresses, skirts, tops – this collection looks expensive. Shehla has made her brand a fashion powerhouse, with her own funky uber-sexy style that never crosses the line into tackorama.  Classic wedding wear will never go out of style, indeed it is the mainstay of most designer. Shehla featured classic heavy bridal with intricate work, but she updated it with her choice of motifs, interesting colours and the highlight of the show, very sexy backs. There wasn’t a stitch out of place, the detailing of the layers, even the ones barely peeking though was tremendous, and the lowers were outstanding. There were skirts and dupattas in crinkled silk, variations of the gharara – simmered, double-layered, triple-layered! – enormous ruffles, pleated dupattas, tiers of tulle, farshi lehngas, short angarkhas, long tunics, embellished bustiers and exquisite statement jackets. There were no bright dashes of colour. Quite subtly sophisticated tones that transformed from with silvers and deep maroons to a pretty pink, powder-blue and gorgeous combinations of black and gold.  Bridal wear is desi fashion’s high point; it is to the subcontinent what couture is to the West. However, breaking barriers containing just one of the type – Shehla went all out and about. She created couture pieces meshed with desi bridal avatars – which we loved! The layers of organza and tulle adding drama – more layers and tafettas paired with haute statement jewellery pieces and separate tops with hand embroideries intricately meshed with Swarovski crystals, gota, marori and chata-patti. Apart from womenswear bridal, Shehla’s Aks featured menswear collection as well. Very well-cut, lightly embroidered, quilted and moving from whites and blacks to tea-pink and mint green. Sleek tailoring and minimalistic embroideries – Voila Shehla! Verdict: Wispy chic, utterly exotic and done with all her heart and soul is the only way to describe Shehla’s collection. Her bridals weaved their usual magic spell, not because the choreography was so sharp, or the venue was extremely well done, but because the clothes on display were breath takingly beautiful. Bisou Bisou!

SOCIAL SATIRE: In George Bernard Shawu2019s Oscar winning picture, My Fair Lady (1964), based on Pygmalion, Shaw asks us to consider the question that if we change our language and appearance, do we really change our nature? The elements that are well emphasised within Pygmalion support the theme of language being the distinction amongst the social classes.
Transforming cultures and connecting the world

David Crystal in his book English as a Global Language says language reflects the speaker’s ideas and view of the world and it gives information about the person who is speaking. Identity, origin, age, heritage, gender, and culture are just some of the details which can be transferred via language.  But the question arises: are those who speak a global language as a mother tongue in a position of power compared with those who have to learn it as an official or foreign language?  Many writers and researchers have discussed the unseen development of hierarchy and racism over a period of time thanks to the language they speak. English language is lingua franca. It is possible that people who write up their research, no matter how significant, in languages other than English will have their work cut out in terms of recognition. There is already hearsay evidence to suggest that these things happen. The pressure to adopt the language and in such context to place yourself on the map of recognition is considerable.  Similarly, in George Bernard Shaw’s Oscar winning picture, My Fair Lady (1964), based on Pygmalion, he asks us to consider the question that if we change our language and appearance, do we really change our nature? The elements that are well emphasised within Pygmalion support the theme of language being the distinction amongst the social classes. The characters prove themselves through their speech as belonging to their appropriate classes. ‘Look where you’re goin’, dear. Look where you’re goin’! You ought to be stuffed with nails, you ought! Here, take the whole bloomin’ basket for a sixpence!’ As the play opens, a pretty looking girl talking in this accent clearly draws a line for us that accent of speaking English does define the social class. Even in today’s time, you cannot expect someone of a social higher status speaking English with such a slang accent. There are certain rules and barriers attached.  In the play, stuffy professor Henry Higgins sets himself a challenge: to pass off Eliza Doolittle, a Cockney flower girl, as a duchess. The play is really about language, and the idea that, through language, one can raise one’s social status. Many would argue that it still holds. At first it seems Shaw is suggesting that a person’s identity is wrapped up in how they speak, but he is also exposing just how shallow that definition is. A person like Doolittle, can be taught to speak like the upper class and pass herself off, yet, language alone should not define a person.  Certainly language is not a marker of intelligence or intellectual potential, but a habit or skill that can be altered. The upper class can lay claim to being superior because of their use of language, but literature shows that is is an artificial concept. Shaw’s social satirical play is relatable even today. Or is it? In the first place, the prospect that lingua franca might be needed for the whole world is something which emerged strongly only in the 20th century, in the United Nations where 190 countries came together in a single meeting. The pressure to adopt a single lingua franca, to facilitate communication in such contexts, is considerable. Do we still require a common language and is knowing English promoting a sort of inferiority at some level? Is English penetration in an Arab country like Qatar transforming its culture in a good way? Is it creating an invisible social barrier between the older generation of Qataris who were taught in Arabic and the millennials of today who speak English language?  Ghanim al-Sulaiti, an expert in vegan wellbeing and health, talks about the role of English language in connecting him with the world. He says, “I think learning the English language has opened so many doors and so many opportunities for me; to be able to connect with other people and cultures and to be able to understand, express, reflect and relate to different people from all over the world.” “English is an international language and in order to have a better understanding and clear communication with others, English plays a role for a very effective communication,” adds Fahad al-Obaidly, fashion designer, curator and founder of Qatar Fashion Society. Over half of the global population speak more than one language and that number appears to be on the rise. The ability to switch between languages at the drop of a hat gives one unparalleled social and cognitive ability. As travelling exposes one to new people, and often to new cultures, religions, languages and customs, breaking the communication barrier and hitting common ground with English language is always a plus.  “We live in such a global world that everyone seems to be engaged now, one way or another, where everyone wants to be a part of what’s happening or just wants to say something. We are not divided anymore. We see something happening in the US, and we can talk about it here in Qatar. So being a bilingual definitely helps to cope with all of that, with every sort of communication,” says Fahad in suggesting being bilingual gives him an edge, and Ghanim agrees. “I definitely agree, I wouldn’t have been the same. I can see other people who do not have the English language skills, they do not have as much opportunities as I do. Yes, in this era, the English language is very important as it bridges people together. Of course, having different languages that you’re skilled in is not an edge specifically, but I think it gives you an opportunity, an extra skill you can use to connect with other people.” Language prominently influences the way people see the world. Charlemagne, King of the Franks from 768, King of the Lombards from 774, and Roman Emperor from 800, proclaimed that ‘to have a second language is to have a second soul.’ Does it affect and contribute to the transforming lifestyles? Ghanim says, “The older generation of Qataris didn’t learn English in their schools or still use English as much as we do. I think there have been lots of changes that have had happened in the last 10 years in Doha where you have seen so many of the older generation being forced to learn English, to even adapt to talk in English in public places; to be able to communicate, connect and be a part of the community. I think this has been a huge transformation in culture in Qatar where people have been compelled to learn English. I agree that Arabic is very important and it is our mother language but I also think that because the world is changing and we have a melting pot of many different people and cultures in Doha, you need to have a language that connects us all.”  Adds Fahad, “Back in the days, wherever one used to go they had to talk or communicate in Arabic. But now, it has all transformed to English. So you need to know basic English for communication. But at the same time, several laws have been enforced now to preserve Arabic language.” And what about changing cultures? Ghanim says, “I think language definitely defines the changing culture. Languages have opened up barriers, discussions and debates. We are able to talk about certain subjects that we wouldn’t have been able to talk about. In general, a language can fill in the gaps between cultures and allow us to be more open, have dialogue and speak with confidence. I think English language has given us a platform to be able to share our experiences, our culture and show people what we are doing here in Doha. It’s interesting how language has given us this platform.” It is quite evident that the older generation tends to differ with the younger one in their use of language. Language barriers tend to affect communication between the young generation and old. There does seem to be some language trends that are particularly favoured by generations born in the 80s and 90s. Each generation develops its own vernacular so it has an identity and so people of its own generation generate a unique vocabulary. But the case of developing communication gaps is even tense, when there’s a shift from one language to another. Speaking about the differences existing between older generation of Qataris and English speaking millennials, Fahad says, “I don’t think English language is creating differences. I think it is inspiring the older generation to adapt and have better communication with the younger one. It’s keeping the two generations interested.” Adds Ghanim, “We live in a world where English is taking over. I do not like to look at it as a negative thing because, at the end of the day because of English many people are connecting, communicating better and as long as that’s happening, I think the language is very beneficial. I know a lot of people who disagree with me. They don’t like that younger generation is speaking English and some of them don’t even know how to speak Arabic. So I think, as long as you can communicate with your community and deliver your message, you’re on the right track. But, if, in learning another language, you’re giving up your mother language and you’re not able to communicate with your own people, then that’s a problem for sure. But if you can do both and express yourself and be able to use the language at the right time and place, it is a wonderful thing. I think, yes, the gap between the two generations can be bridged with emphasis on both languages and being able for both the generations to sacrifice a little bit for each other and learn the language of the other.” Shaw discussed in Pygmalian the question of language and how it determines a person’s social standing. He provided a range of characters from a variety of socio-economic levels to show the rigidity in English society, a hierarchy that must not be broken.  But does it still hold?  “You could’ve said that knowing English language is a privilege 15 years ago. But now things have changed. You cannot survive in Doha if you don’t know English and it is very important to engage with the community, to evolve and grow,” says Ghanim.  

MILLENNIAL: Hussain Rehar, a fine new addition to the fashion industry, showcased a boho chic collection that caterwauled colour, glitter and prints.
Raving fashion at PSFW2019

PDFC Sunsilk Fashion Week 2019 (PSFW2019) has been all about artistic, creative fashion – more about luxurious pretty clothes. It was an affair of dazzling comebacks, some pleasant debuts, of sumptuous luxury pret and funky tribal ready-to-wear, of fashion forward collections for men. Just the right line-up to represent the myriad fashion aesthetics that are represented by the Pakistan Fashion Design Council. Unlike previous year, there was an almost visible buzz and energy in the designers. HSY may have brought PSFW19 to a close, but the week’s biggest stories emerged from the womenswear shows presenting fluid silhouettes, dashes of colours and laidback glamour set with pret wear collections. Lahore was a rich source of trend as always – just because it’s the ‘it’ fashion week and designers understand the meaning of putting their best foot forward - and this season, it seems the richer, the better.  SHOWSTOPPER: Mawra Hocane (above) and Sheheryar Munawar Siddiqui (below) walk the ramp for Zaha by Khadija Shah and Republic by Omar Farooq, respectively at PFDC Sunsilk Fashion Week 2019 Designer lineups for the last day usually feature big fashion names – although this doesn’t ring true for the PFDC Sunsilk Fashion Week (PSFW) this time with some genuinely good collections showcased on every single day. PFDC is fast picking up international trends and following international fashion circuit in forming, shaping up and putting up a schedule of designers. They have realised, that more than just a name, it definitely matters what’s being showcased. Sania Maskatiya wasn't the only designer to impress the fashion crowd this season; Hussain Rehar showcased a series of beautifully-made sequined dresses that we can't wait to dance the night away in; Khadija Shah moved her acclaimed prints to a new level; Republic by Omar Farooq delivered the manish elegance we know and love.  The fashion desk lists down top 4 collections that went on the runway of PSFW19 this season. Sania Maskatiya Sania used pastels as the base and her lineup of ethnic silhouettes left no room for improvement. They were perfectly crafted featuring ethnic chata-pati and exquisite gota with modern cuts and tweaks. From dholki to Eid to the formal engagement wear, the designer knows how to cut a neat silhouette.  The dresses were accentuated with ballay, bindis and jhoomars that added a certain freshness to the new age collections, steering away from the usual heavy gold jewellery. Using a variety of fabric from raw silk, chiffon and jacquard to pure cotton while using marori, mukesh and stone centric embellishments, the collection diversity was unmistakable.  Hussain Rehar There are no real ‘rules’ of street style, but over the past few years, it’s been a commonly held belief that wearing black won’t get you noticed. The competition for a photographer’s attention is fierce—you need colour! Glitter! Prints! Everything what Hussain Rehar showcased this season. With very boho-chic vibes, his clothes featured lots of sequins, abstract florals, jackets and capes. The two-piece suits worked entirely with sequins, the vertical strips of colour flowing down gowns. There’s a sense of gullibility to that his clothes, that this is what futuristic fashion looks like.  Zaha by Khadija Shah With experience Khadija knows too well that pretty, flattering clothes are not enough to please a fashion week crowd, so she seasoned with unexpected elements to keep things a little off kilter. The groovy prints of big leafy tropical plants, leopards, bright yellow frogs, monkeys and polka dots and hippieish chill of the late 70’s of breezy baggy tunics nipped at the waist with sashes, paired with harems and shalwars, was all over the showcase. It doesn’t get easier that breezy wearable ready-to-wear collection like this. If you’re really leaning in, layer on the chunky accessories Khadija brought to the ramp with big voluminised hair and neon makeup here and there. You’d love your look! With funky and being bold, it was an affair of Va VA Voom! The models with dewy fresh skin showcased reptilian prints and sheer delicate layers. Republic by Omar Farooq Omar’s embrace of less strictly tailored clothes over the past few years was never just about a tightly stitched double breast blazer. It was a something that signaled a message about his brand, telling the world that Republic is more masculine and fashion-forward menswear then ever before. Omar brought an edgy twist to his menswear collection,– he took a departure from conventional menswear suits and came back with jackets that were hip.  Text and symbols were etched across them, ciphers that hold personal meanings for the designer: a tousle-haired young boy, a monster glaring out from the back of model Aimal Khan’s jacket and rebellious slogans that declared ‘not a role model’. The accessories were similarly colourful and with British appeal: Buckles made of penny loafers adorned peep peepback plateaus made of colored raffia. Also outstanding are the shoulder bags with nostalgic metal frame to mention.

“Sometimes there can be a lot of strength in a quiet character” — Meryem Uzerli, actress

In the space of a single decade, Turkey has gone from being a country with a somewhat barren television landscape to being one of the largest exporters of soap operas and drama series in the world. Turkish television — an appealing blend of social issues and strong cultural themes — is one of the most thriving entertainment industries in the world now. In 2011, it introduced us to Muhtesem Yüzy?l (Magnificent Century), an epic historical drama launched, based on the life and court of the Ottoman Sultan Suleyman the Magnificent, the longest-reigning Sultan of the Ottoman Empire, and his wife Hurrem Sultan. The television series was broadcast in over 40 countries with more than 200 million viewers worldwide. Viewers watched the show, not only in Turkey but also in Pakistan, Bosnia, Croatia, China, United States and other countries, including several in the Arab world, where it was called The Sultan’s Harem and dubbed in Arabic. Muhtesem Yüzy?l introduced Meryem Uzerli, Turkish-German actress, to the world as Hurrem Sultan, the female lead of the television series.  With over 25 TV and movie awards and nominations, Meryem has climbed the ladder of fame and has become an unstoppable force. During the series, Uzerli’s role managed to develop a love-hate relationship with her audience.  Her acting prowess has placed herself on the cultural map of the world as one of the best actresses to have had come out of Turkish television industries. From Tüketici Academy Award for Best Female Lead for Muhtesem Yüzy?l in 2011 to being adjudged as the Best International Actress 2016 at 7th annual Beirut International Awards Festival, Meryem has come a long way, but her popularity has been increasing since the first episode of the television got on air.  She has captivated the audiences with her talent, warmth and natural beauty.  We’ve all gotten to know and love Meryem Uzerli as Hurrem Sultan but she’s now slowly shedding that persona and reinventing herself. Meryem was recently in Doha for the launch of a Turkish jewellery brand Atasay, a brand she represents.  Actresses worldwide are notoriously private but Community sat with Meryem Uzerli in a candid conversation where she granted permission and access to a rarely-before-seen side of herself, delving into her childhood memories including her first acting gig and shunning off rumours that surrounded her once and for all.  Meryem sounds a decade wiser, too. She talks about growing strong female characters in production and how she’s not bothered as an actress, still being associated with one character she has played; she’s deeply educated on issue of toxic relationships. Meryem might still have Hurrem Sultan’s glorious hair, but she’s developed the kind of thoughtful attitude that comes only with experience.  We’ve seen you play such a historical character, bombarded with glamour and manipulation, but who is Meryem Uzerli in personal life? Sometimes strong, sometimes funny, sometimes serious, sometimes sensitive, sometimes tired, sometimes fit and always believing in the good. Full of vision and working towards it and to give everything to be a good mother to my daughter and raise her in great love and security. Sometimes a single performance sets the standards and all subsequent performances pale in comparison no matter how hard one tries. Would you be able to outdo the Hurrem legacy? Hurrem Sultan is of course, one of the strongest female characters in history. I am very grateful and proud that I had a chance to play such a powerful character — what a gift for an actress! In general, there’s a boom in portrayal of strong female characters, which is great, but each character I played has its own strengths, weaknesses, differences. It would be boring to always embody the same dynamics. Sometimes there can be a lot of strength in a quiet character. I never compare my work. It all stands for itself and that’s a good thing.  Even after a decade of Muhtesem Yüzy?l, people worldwide recall you as Hurrem, rather than any other character you’ve played so far. Does it bother you as an actress? No, not at all! Of course, it was a huge project and very popular because it was sold to so many countries. The other characters or projects I’ve done were not so huge, I mean they were not sold to so many countries like Muhtesem Yüzy?l. It was something totally different. Ah, yes sure it was part of my life and I enjoyed it a lot and it is part of myself and that is totally nice.  Did playing Hurrem, who has a legacy of strength and influence and stepping into her shoes, changed you in any way? Every person I meet teaches me something. Sometimes it’s a simple sentence that makes you think or sometimes it’s a deeper conversation that inspires and out of which I draw something as an experience. When I play a character it’s another journey on a psychological level. I would never say that it changes me as Meryem, but I can say that it enriched me. From a girl next door to a diva sporting the cover editorials of fashion magazines, was there a moment when you actually realised that you’ve just made it as an actress and a popular celebrity? I know what you mean but I am not a diva. I was always Meryem and will always be Meryem — of course, you evolve with your experiences, grow up , changing your looks, your style depending on the projects but I am just someone who goes to work and is happy to be part of different projects. That’s all. You’ve done films, dramas and then soap opera, how would you differentiate amongst the three mediums as an actress? I’ve never been a part of soap opera, but who knows, maybe in the future. Or maybe your definition of a soap opera is different from mine in Germany. I have done lots of theatre, cinema and drama serials. Of course it’s different to perform live in front of the audience, it’s a totally different dynamic. There’s a time pressure in theatre while in cinema productions there is often more time to unfold within a project. In series also, you build a character over a long period of time, step by step. All dynamics can be different but at the end of the day you develop a character and present it no matter where. I like all of them. Was acting something you always wanted to do? When I was five, my best friend’s father owned the biggest theatrical production in my hometown. I was playing a tree, in the background of course, or something of the sort even in that young age. So yes it happened in a very natural way. His father once asked us to do a play — and that’s how it all actually started. It was a step-by-step thing. I used to go to a private art kindergarten and then a private art school. So I guess this is how it happened. And what about photography? I love photography. I actually gave my camera to somebody here. I’m sweating a bit because camera is like my baby. I love to take pictures of people, interesting faces and situations. It’s just about emotions and expressing it via photography. It’s a hobby and a passion. I like to do pictures in black and white because then it looks more artful and the focus is on the subject and situation and you’re not distracted by the colours. I like to capture weird situations but I don’t post all of them — because that’ll be weird then. I like characteristic faces.  Tell us something about your upcoming projects? I just finished a movie which I was shooting at the Turkish/Georgian border, The Hive. I was also one of the executive producers of the film. I’m more and more interested in playing a bigger role in the creative process of the projects. The movie is an intense family drama of overcoming your fears and embracing change in a lot of ways. A very artful film with deep and calm character. Apart from this, I’m also working on a series for an Internet platform. It was rumoured that you had a nervous breakdown on the night of Antalya Television Awards. Do you think that was the moment when you realised you have to take a new path in life, towards betterment? Oh, there are a lot of rumours everywhere. I’ve learned not to hear, read or get distracted by them. The media is always creating something. That’s part of the business.  What would you say to people caught up in toxic relationships and what advice would you give single moms? Unhealthy relationships, as we all know, are difficult to break. Often a different feeling like addiction is confused with love. I think it is important to look at yourself and see what exactly makes you linger in such an unhealthy combination. And as for being a single mother, there is no tip that I can share since there are so many different constellations and individual stories — I can only say I am proud of every mom in the world.  How do you find inner peace? Is there something that you do to get away from all the action in your life?  Spending time with my daughter. Just watching movies in my pyjamas at home, eating chocolates, taking a walk through nature, reading and spending time with the people I love. Well, sometimes staying alone and listening to music as well.  Are there beauty secrets lying somewhere in the corner that other aspirants could make use of? A beauty secret? Not really. I don’t know what to say here, but the question means that you find me beautiful. That flatters me. Thank you. You’re representing an heirloom brand of jewellery like Atasay; are you a jewellery person yourself? As the daughter of a Turkish father I’m very proud to be the face of a Turkish brand, which has brought together more than 110 million women worldwide with its jewellery due to the success in production since its foundation in 1937 with its superb, award-winning creations, employees, artisans, craftsmen and associates. As a woman I love jewellery as well. I’m into diamonds and gold — actually everything. It’s all about emotions for me. I’m a very emotional person. So sometimes I like something simple and sometimes more glamorous like every woman I guess. In a recent interview, you said you are looking forward to shift to Middle East. Have you given it a thought yet? Yes, absolutely. It’s in my head and it’s in my heart. Whenever I spend time in the Middle East, I feel great happiness in me which I can hardly describe. I don’t know more exactly at the moment. But it is a dream and a longing. I’m trying to make it possible but my schedule is not allowing right now to plan it properly. There are so many countries in the Middle East that are beautiful. Even Qatar, love it to the bones. Any message for your fans? I’m so happy to be here in Qatar. I’m sending greetings to everyone and whatever you’re going through in life right now, even if its sadness, happiness or you’re a bit sick, like my flu today, I’m sending prayers, hugs, kisses and love.

TRIBUTE: HSYu2019s grand finale will honour his mother this season.
A sneak peek: PFDC Fashion Week

Over the past few years, the Lahore-based PFDC has orchestrated one fashion week after another, always exactly on the announced dates and we’ve gotten used to this level of efficiency. PFDC Sunsilk Fashion Week 19 looks like one interesting show waiting to happen. More than anything else, the event will mark the showcase of debut collections of many promising talents and brands.  There were some designers who refrained from participating in Sunsilk Fashion Week for quite some time. But then there were also those, who did show their collections at other shows and quite a few of them decided to trundle down the well-hackneyed lawn route, these designers, some of the country’s best – are only now gearing to show their clothes in a big way on the 20th Edition of PDFC Sunsilk Fashion Week ramp. It is this line-up of designers that excites us the most. Together, we predict that they will form some of the higher points at the PFDC up ahead.  Like every year, the upcoming four-day extravaganza will feature three categories including Luxury Prêt, High-Street prêt-a-porter shows and Lawn. Bringing together fashion brands that foster creation and international development, PFDC is seeking to promote Pakistan’s fashion culture, where craft and creation have a major impact.  PFDC is getting bigger with every season and as always, the show this time includes big names as well as upcoming designers. Established couturiers and high street brands which will showcase their collections, include HSY, House of Kamiar Rokni, Republic by Omar Farooq, Zaha by Khadija Shah, Zara Shahjahan, Sana Safinaz, Yahsir Waheed, Saira Shakira, Chapter 2, Nomi Ansari, Hussain Rehar, Sania Maskatiya and Fahad Hussayn. Additionally, Lahore based menswear designer Rici Melion along with Zasimo, Sameer Karasu, Almirah, Hana, Khaas, Sanoor and So Kamal will be making their way on the ramp with high street, lawn and debut collections.  Keeping the tradition of nurturing young promising designers ‘The Rising Talent’ segment will bring shortlisted young artisans, including Zeeshan Mohy-ud-din, Hafsa Mahmood and Mahnoor Azam to the catwalk for the first time. Rising Talent platform is solely to cultivate the future generations of the fashion industry in our country and transforming them into powerhouses to be reckoned with. These talented individuals were shortlisted from a list of 24 fashion students in Pakistan. The early evening shows will include high-street lawn showcase while the shows later in the evening will feature high-end labels. Khadija Shah’s Zaha will also be presented for the first time. What everyone has been looking forward to at this three-day fashion fiesta is Nomi Ansari’s first sportswear collection. In collaboration with local and upcoming sportswear brand, Nomi has created separate lowers, tops and more for both men and women. Nomi is famous for his flamboyant bridal wear so, this is definitely the hook of this season. Republic by Omar Farooq always brings an edgy twist to his menswear collection, be it prints, texture or cuts – he takes a departure from conventional menswear suits and comes back with jackets that are hip and masculine like anything. He’ll be showcasing ‘Metaphor’ – a luxury streetwear capsule collection exploring the evolution of symbolism from a form of basic communication, to that of self representation and anarchic expression.  Much like the clothes that play on the balance between past construction and present deconstruction on a palette of subtle creams, juxtapositioned with fluorescent neon shades; channelling the contrasting idea of how the same symbol can be both favourable for one culture and baneful for another.  HSY’s grand finale will honour his mother this season.

Photo by Syed Hasan Iqbal Zaidi
The golden hour

About 7 kilometres northeast of the city of Al Khor City and 60 kilometres from Doha, at Al Thakira Beach, sun falls behind the horizon, heaving the parting rays across all the sky, from the skyline to the zenith. As far as you can see, the disappearing sun rays paints the clouds with its fiery pigments, as the hues blends from the masses of pink, crimson and scarlet – scattered away with the fiery tangerine red. Never before had you realised how tenuous and thin the tranquil clouds are. Wispy and frail, like they only just exist. The high concentration of salt particles suspended in the air over the oceans causes the red sunsets – and it’s evident. Just like this one, every sunset promises a new dawn – a proof that endings can be beautiful too. Sunsets always expound that beauty sometimes only lasts for a couple of moments, and that all it takes is patience to experience it all over again.  There’s a slight ripple in water, otherwise still, as the small jet boat rests in silence and peace. The picture makes you wonder, where is all the human kind to appreciate such a beauty of colours and nature. Too busy in the up-state building with the worldly work? How unfortunate – missing out on the inexplicable sense of tranquil awareness. Well they say, the closer to nature, the happier the person. So, when are you heading to Al Thakira beach to witness the sight where gold changes to crimson, crimson deepens to purple, and soon a sight for sore eyes passes away?

AYURVEDIC: Shirodhara, is an Ayurvedic treatment where warm herbal oils are poured gently over the forehead. This treatment is effective for blood circulation to the brain, improving memory, hair and scalp and encouraging sound sleep.
Healthy living with Wellness and Spa

Health, as defined by the World Health Organization, is a ‘complete state of physical, mental and social well-being, not merely an absence of disease.’ Thus, health does not reside merely in the physical domain, but in the mind and in the spirit as well – the holistic approach. Reconnecting body-mind-spirit, one of the objectives of taking a spa and/or wellness day out, can have a profound effect on one’s health. Scientific research says that most of the diseases human beings face are related to stress. Stress can not only affect the mental health of a person but also can damage your physical health. In the ever-changing world and with today’s ultra fast-paced lifestyle, meditation, and yoga with life coaching, is on the rise. We are in a world where there is no slowing down, and mental rejuvenation is what people need to cope with stress. As perceived, stress is reduced or removed at a wellness centre and spa, with meditation, yoga, opening up your chakras or a simple oil massage to relax the muscles, one can actually change the biochemistry of their body. Ultimately, a greater state of balance and a higher state of health can be achieved. Wellness is the hot new word in holistic approach these days. It’s the most powerful argument anyone can make against seeing spas as a mere luxury, but rather a research-backed tool that can improve your health. From the rise of ageing baby boomers to high net worth clients whose stress levels and the need for self-fulfilment have increased, spa and wellness is on the rise. Whether it’s a sweaty workout or an intense day at work that has your muscles in a knot, a wellness treatment like a massage or a trip to the sauna can sound like an alluring medicine. Wellness means you live in a state of optimal health, well-being, and vitality, and you invest money, time, and energy in the things that help you achieve it. That includes a good diet, exercise, and treatments like massage and bodywork out that keeps you functioning at your best. Wellness makes our lives richer and more enjoyable. Wellness and Spa industries are recording a growing trend from year to year. The growing tendency of these markets come as a result of a shift in the attitudes of the population, which is now oriented towards improving the health and quality of life, which is manifested through the use of the services of these centres. Talking about the growing trend of Wellness and Spa in Qatar and how it has transformed from a mere luxury to a necessity for health, Jessica Kim SN, Manager of Balance Wellness Centre and Anantara Spa at Banana Island Resort, said, “People are getting aware that they need to do something for themselves and their body to keep themselves recharged. People are now taking care of themselves. Right now, where people are stressed at work and in everyday life, Wellness and Spa becomes a necessity automatically. Often it happens that when we’re explaining about treatments to women, lots of men also actually show interest and come out to try the services.” Wellness and Spa are two different terms and businesses, although many people often fail to identify them. Are these differences minor or it is just a lack of awareness? “Wellness is the treatment for your body post stress and Spa and massage is to prevent you from that stress. They’re linked and overlap at a lot of places and treatments,” clears Jessica. However, a healthy lifestyle has a lot to do with Wellness and Spa. Lizette Duco, Director of Recreation at Oryx Rotana, says, “Wellness, Spa and Healthy Lifestyle are all entwined. Global Wellness Institute describes ‘Wellness’ as the active pursuit of activities, choices, and lifestyles that lead to holistic health. ‘Spas are a place devoted to enhancing overall well-being through a variety of professional services that encourage the renewal of mind, body, and spirit’ as per the International Spa Association. Healthy lifestyle is daily practice to achieve your optimal health. All three are geared towards a healthier mind, body and spirit.” Is wellness a more effective way for body treatments? Jessica and Lizette are in with us on it. “You don’t need a pill for your headaches in wellness. Every procedure is natural and that helps one to relax mentally and physically – the inner being. The Wellness and Spa treatments are more of prevention for diseases and illnesses.” Adds Lizette, “In wellness we have this health continuum, the healthier you are – the less sick you become, the less you need medical help. It’s the pro-active approach of wellness.” With the rise of technology, everything has gone mobile. There are many mobile applications like Headspace that claims a full meditation session, sitting at home. Drawing parallel between this new mobile technique and traditional methods, Lizette says, “Meditation can be in different forms, what is important is that it benefits the user. If the client is techno-savvy then this will be effective for him/her. It’s just a matter of preference.” However Jessica contradicts with the narrative. She says, “Some people are using different mobile applications for meditation. But that’s too much technology. Sometimes you need a personal touch. You need to talk to people and get engaged with them. Personal touch plays a very important role in meditation. Everyday you’re just listening to a recorded voice but in actual meditation, the trainer helps you through the correct procedure. Our minds are always moving and thinking, to settle it all down, in the present moment, after you’re done with meditation, it’s important to engage with someone.” Talking about the benefits of various wellness treatments, including modern and traditional practices of Ayurveda, in relation to the physical body and anatomy. Jessica explains, “Infrared Sauna is to detoxify your body. It actually sort of gives a protective layer to your skin from the external pollution and environment. It helps to detoxify and cleanse the body by releasing toxins. It also sort of supports weight loss, relieves joint pains and boosts blood circulation. Of course first time you might not even feel anything, but it takes time. You have to take the treatment consistently and you see the results for sure,” she added, “Shirodhara, is an Ayurvedic treatment where warm herbal oils are poured gently over your forehead. This treatment is also very good for blood circulation to the brain, improving memory, hair and scalp and encouraging sound sleep and calming your mind.” “Then there’s Flotation Pod where Epsom salt is used. Long known as a natural remedy for a number of ailments, Epsom salt has numerous health benefits educing inflammation, helping muscle and nerve function, helping to prevent artery hardening, improve the absorption of nutrients, flush toxins, and even help ease migraine headaches. So the pod is closed and the lights inside the pod changes to activate the seven chakras,” tells Jessica She adds, “Vichy Shower is also a very effective treatment. This water massage treatment is particularly effective following a body scrub or wrap, to circulate the recently absorbed products through your system. During the Vichy Shower treatment, you lie on a padded water table, with the shower jets above you and the lights have been installed that changed colour to activate your chakras.” Lizette gives suggestion and tips for mental and physical well-being. “I would suggest physical activity of 30 minutes, daily meditation and healthy nutrition. Also do a consultation with a certified fitness instructor for fitness training, attend yoga and Pilates class and meet spa therapist to find the best treatment for them for their weekly relaxation sessions,” she says.

BUSINESS AS USUAL: Sonam Kapoor tied the knot last year with her long time beau business and fashion entrepreneur Anand Ahuja.
“Nothing has changed post-marriage” — Sonam Kapoor, Bollywood star

Much has changed about Sonam Kapoor except her plainspeak. She’s still as bold as beautiful as she was when she made her Bollywood acting debut with Saawariya in 2007. Sonam has completed a decade-long journey in the Hindi film industry. The daughter of veteran actor-producer Anil Kapoor ventured into the world of filmmaking in 2005 as an assistant director for Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s movie Black (2005), where Bhansali spotted her and offered Sonam a role as an actress for his next production Saawariya and the rest is history. Being a star-kid, Sonam Kapoor has definitely broken the stereotypes attached to the tag and created a special place for herself in Bollywood. She’s a big movie star now. With Sanju (2018), Padman (2018) and Neerja (2016) kissing the box-office mark, she’s grabbing the eyeballs.  Yet, there were several false starts after Saawariya. While she doesn’t admit it, she had indeed become the whipping girl for her movie turns.  Her image as a fashionista loomed larger than her image as an actor. But anyone who’s a Sonam Kapoor fan, can see it in her eyes that there’s an all-together different girl behind the elaborate Ralph & Russo gowns and her Burberry stilettos. You know her as a fashionista, a title in which she absolutely takes pride, but then you really don’t know who she is.  Once the lights are off, the paparazzies are moved aside and she enters her personal space, Sonam Kapoor has another, reserved side. Time and again, it peeps through her not so conventional roles in the films that are not commercial but actually contribute significantly, to the story of the film. Be it Neerja, Padman, Bhaag Milkha Bhaag (2013) or Raanjhanaa (2013) — she has gone grounded in the choices she makes.  Known to be unabashedly honest, dressed in a blush pink Anaamika Khana saari and an elaborate maatha patti, Sonam spoke to Community in an exclusive interview whilst visiting Qatar for Fashion Trust Arabia as a Jury Judge Member and revealed why and how A-list heroes supporting a woman-centric production is the need of the hour and her biggest teacher — her illustrious father.  Sonam tied the knot last year with her long-term beau Anand Ahuja. Based in Delhi, Anand Ahuja is the founder of Bhane, a well-known clothing brand. He also started India›s first multi-brand sneaker boutique, VegNonVeg.  So how has Sonam’s life changed post-marriage?  “Not that much, besides the fact that I live in and out of three places: Delhi, Mumbai and London. I’m working just as much and doing just as much as I used to.” It is generally believed that marriage affects the career of Bollywood actresses. Where men of all ages can be heroes, the moment an actress gets married, it’s almost a dead end for her career. But Sonam believes otherwise.  “I think this is something you could’ve said probably 15 or maybe 30 years ago. It is something media puts it out there more than what the audience thinks because whether its Dimple Kapadia, Nutan, Nargis, Madhuri, Waheeda Rahman and so many other actresses, they all continued working (after marriage). So, it’s a little redundant to talk about it now.” Neerja, a biopic about a 22-year-old head purser who gave her life trying to save 359 passengers onboard the hijacked Pan Am Flight 73 in 1986, did for Sonam Kapoor what Queen did for Kangana Ranaut. While watching Neerja, we all had trouble remembering that the girl onscreen is Sonam. It was difficult to trace the exact point when Anil Kapoor’s daughter becomes Neerja Bhanot. She worked at sounding like the Bombay-bred Neerja, hair and make-up artists supplied the bob and look with 80s wigs. But Neerja was more than that. Sonam actually went on to meet the people who knew Neerja in real life, including her friends, family and colleagues, to understand what made this seemingly ordinary girl do something deserving of three bravery awards from three countries posthumously. Sonam went on to great lengths to prepare for the biopic. What excites her as an actor, she says, “Just to do better no matter what happens and how much acclaim you get.” To put it out there, the new cinematic awakening has been a relatively recent development, triggered by periodic bouts of deep professional introspection. In such a time lies a huge responsibility on an actor’s shoulders for the kind of scripts they choose.  “Since the beginning of my career, I’ve been trying to make choices that are responsible — that are not racist, homophobic or sexist, that our industry tends to be,” Sonam adds, “If you’re educated and aware, it’s important to make those choices. It’s a responsible thing to do.”  Since Raanjhanaa, Sonam’s films have been doing well on box-office and in cinemas. Is there any special formula to follow? “It has almost been a decade since I did Raanjhanaa. All my films have done well and have been critically acclaimed since then. I think people like to get entertained by my films and also like to see what I do. It’s only because there’s honesty to what I’m trying to say through my work and that’s important,” says Sonam.  Pakistani actor Fawad Khan may not be starring in Bollywood movies anymore because of the ban but his co-stars still look up to him with respect and love. He made his Bollywood debut in Khoobsurat (2014) opposite Sonam Kapoor and charmed everyone with his acting ability. Talking about stint with Fawad Khan in Khoobsurat, Sonam said, “Art has no boundaries. I think Fawad was a consummate professional. We had a great chemistry and I look forward to working with him again.”  When asked to recall a moment from the film sets that she will cherish forever, Sonam proferred: “It was working with my sister on Veere Di Wedding (2018). It was the most successful film opening by the female leads ever and also the biggest film ever, led and produced by a female,” added Sonam, “So I think it’s a huge step towards the movement of female empowerment in India. It is something that will always remain close to my heart, because I did it with my sister.” Since Sonam was in Doha to judge the emerging designers from Mena for Fashion Trust Arabia, she talked about the plagiarism debate that’s happening in the fashion industry right now. “I think everybody is inspired by everybody,” she says. On talking about the potential of FTA contestants, Sonam said, “There’s potential everywhere in the world. It is just encouragement that is needed.” With social media revolution, there are some drastic beauty standards that have been set up which are difficult for common people to follow. Is it fair? Certainly not. And Sonam is all in with us about it. Few years ago, Sonam wrote an open letter ‘I didn’t wake up like this’ as a response to Shobhaa De, Indian columnist who wrote a blog post saying that Sonam Kapoor ‘just doesn’t cut it in the appeal stakes’, and others who take over body-shaming and judge people for their appearance — and not in a good way. “It’s still relative. I have written so many articles about it. So, you can refer to that,” Sonam said by way of brevity.

Photos by Ram Chand
Sheep story: In the serene green, grazing peacefully

The outlander brown lamb, in a flock of black ones, gazes into the lens with all that gentleness and tenderness in nature, somewhere on the country-side, Shamal, Al Noman Area, defining how the land untouched by humans for construction or any other purposes encompases life in its full form. It ceases to be just another moment, when you forget it’s right in the middle of the desert. Something spectacular, green – grass, being bitten off by the furry creature. Lamb symbolises peace and innocent mode of being with no interest in the difficult, nightmarish or problematic aspects of life. The photograph is all about expression, uncluttered with the mental baggage, that is all about experiencing joy in everything, without finding something too special. Going along the way with its flock, without any fuss, or questions; in serene, peaceful mind.  Where bliss and delight shapes the perception of the photographer, for me the photograph does not provide a completely adequate doctrine, because it fails to account for the presence of suffering and evil in the world. Which is just another side of the same coin. But, if you just intend to see perfection, composition and peace in one photograph – just look at the innocence of the lamb in the photo, covered in a sandy fur, and fall in love with the animal creation all over again. It’s time to explore this part of Qatar. 

MYSTERY: Teefa in Troubleu2019s music was very well-done, got a Netflix release and was even performed at international platforms and award shows. Why it didnu2019t get a nomination is the question.
LSA19 besieged with controversies

It won’t be erroneous to profess the awards as a source of recognition to all those who push themselves all year round, even as ascetics will say they do not mean much. Perhaps, this is why the awards are never considered a paradigm to success. One of Pakistan’s most celebrated and anticipated awards of the year, Lux Style Awards 2019 are scheduled to take place in July. Highlighting achievements in fashion and entertainment, the awards honour artisans from the media fraternity. Meanwhile where the nominations of Lux Style Awards 2019 are out, the politics is indeed a surging sea undergoing stormy weather. LSA jury has received backlash for snubbing some of the most prominent projects of 2018. Celebrities including actors, producers and influencers have taken over social media to express their concern and call spade-a-spade once and for all, without any curtailment.  Mohsin Abbas Haider Actor Mohsin Abbas Haider seems to be on a streak of good luck, with his stint as a rapper-singer in the show Mazaak Raat he riveted the audiences’ attention towards him, but it’s with Pakistani film Na Maloom Afraad (2014), that he established a standing in the industry. From singing on Coke Studio to blockbuster films such as Jawani Phir Nahin Aani 2 under his belt, there is not gainsaying that he has managed to climb up the ladder quite rapidly.  He was recently part of drama serial Meri Gurya (2018), on entertainment channel ARY Digital, that tackled the issue of child sexual abuse and received critical acclaim. However, the play is not nominated under the Best TV Play category. Although Mohsin is nominated in Singer of the Year category for song Na Ja, but he expressed his disdain and disappointment for snubbing the socially relevant play from the nominations. In an Instagram post, he wrote, “First of all thank you for nominating our song Na Ja in the Best Singer of the Year category. But I am highly disappointed not to see a single nomination of our drama Meri Gurya. I don’t know the reason (which I would love to know if any), but this is very disrespectful for the whole team of the play. And thanks for making my belief more strong that let’s just make money and run our kitchens, thanks.” Eman Suleman Nominated under the Best Emerging Talent in Fashion category, budding model Eman Suleman has boycotted the awards saying she doesn’t want to share an LSA nomination with someone who has been accused of harassment. Eman, however, did not take any names. In a minute long video message posted on Instagram, the model expressed her discomfort in these words: “I was extremely honoured to be nominated for the Lux Style Awards but, what I’m going to say next is going to result in a lot of eye rolls. I am tired of talking about it, honestly. I do not wish to be a part of an accolade which is shared with an alleged harasser, I feel no joy. Maybe nominate someone who feels happy about it, I don’t. I am basically done [with this].” Ahsan Rahim and Teefa in Trouble Although director of Teefa in Trouble, Ahsan Rahim is nominated for his film in the Best Director category, he expressed his disappointment after seeing that his film’s music did not get the recognition it deserved. He called it ‘discrimination and a biased’ decision. Teefa in Trouble’s music was very well-done, got a Netflix release and was even performed on at international platforms and award shows. Why it didn’t get a nomination? We’re also wondering the same.  “It goes to show how certain biases of certain individuals can turn the game upside down just because they don’t like you or your film personally or you didn’t let them use your music for free for their performances. I won’t be surprised if my film – the biggest non-holiday blockbuster of all times in Pakistan – goes unnoticed at the awards just because the voice of a few in charge is louder than many millions,” said Ahsan Rahim.

ARTISTIC: Self portrait of Sheikh Hassan al-Thani in ink.
Larger than life artworks capturing time and memories

Taking on the subject of going down the memory lane and showcasing personal art collection is sometimes daunting but Sheikh Hassan bin Mohammed al-Thani, Vice Chairperson of Qatar Museums Authority, Advisor for Cultural Affairs at Qatar Foundation, Founder of Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art, a Qatari artist, collector, researcher, and educator in the field of modern art from the Arab world, India, and Asia, is fearless. Sticking with contemporary work always helps.  Just when you think you know everything there is to know about Sheikh Hassan bin Mohammed al-Thani, regarding his artistic vision and legendary artwork, including Motherland, that is making a statement at newly opened Qatar National Museum, he turns around and surprises you, and for a good reason.  His primary-colour techniques grab your attention as you enter his current show, ‘For the Sake of Art’ featuring three other prominent artists alongside, including Yousef Ahmad, Nazar Yahya and Dia al-Azzawi at Qatar Art Centre. The exhibition features art pieces that have been created within the walls of the Qatar Art Centre for over two decades. The exhibition offers a rare glimpse of the memories, friendships, stories, exploration and processes these artists have shared and experienced over the past two decades. The timeline is diverse and so are the works on display. When Hassan is using his signature grid pattern and the same self-portrait in his painting, there’s a no-holds-barred freedom that makes them completely alive, nearly abstract, and full of the kind of energy and it’s rare and exciting to see an artist of this vintage going deeper and looser – having and giving viewers so much fun. The aesthetic and philosophical treatment of the themes of past, present and future have been explored by artists over the ages and across cultures. On the one hand, the transience of good days, beauty and life is something that unifies us all, but on the other, the treatment of moving along with time, its implication and visual representation has evolved over time and differs dramatically across cultures, these four artists pays an ode to the every changing time and accepts future like anything with splash of colours and gold.  Sheikh Hassan bin Mohammed al-Thani, Founder of Qatar Art Centre, said, “Qatar Art Centre is a hub which offers space, providing differing and creative talents with an opportunity to engage, be supported and promote their own production. It can be perceived as an ‘artists’ residency. The artwork here goes beyond the time in which it is completed – it communicates with modern day audiences and inspires Qatar’s communities, provoking different thoughts and perspectives.” Speaking about the role of the students, he said, “The curators of the exhibition are responsible for creating a narrative from the artwork, by constantly utilising the exhibition space to portray a theme or message. This is reflected with the UCL Qatar student project – the Center offered them a space to display their curation and bring to light their artistic vision. UCL Qatar students have become part of the artistic scene in Qatar, and the academic institution itself has become a partner in the artistic processes and developments here.” UCL Qatar Masters students on the Museum and Gallery Programme have partnered with Qatar Art Center to curate this exhibition exploring the process of making art. It’s rare when you witness an art show featuring paintings of teacher and student side-by-side, but when you do, it’s special. You can just realise it with the strokes of the brush and draw parallel how they inspire each other.  Yousef Ahmad was Sheikh Hassan’s Fine Arts teacher at Qatar University back in 1990s. They formed a strong bond due to a mutual passion for art that evolved from a teacher-student relationship to a close-lasting friendship – influencing each others work.  Yousef’s work on display highlighted the specific period in Qatari history, evoking feelings of nostalgia of a simpler and more grounded past. It’s astounding to see his pieces, all created from his memories rather than any archival photographs amidst the hazy hues of Qatar.   “It entices me in old neighbourhoods how the light reflects and shadows shape. That captivates me. Life in Qatar is very very simple and Qatari architecture reflects that. A wall, a door, some windows and a Sidra tree. These are the main elements of an old Qatari house and that is what I tried to document.” From the mangroves to the desert, such a trip inspired Nazar Yahya, Iraqi artists, some of the works on the display. Whilst the paintings are not a typical representation of Al Khor with its flowers, reeds and birds, Nazar presents his emotions and reflections of the day on canvas and uses yellow tinges, as a representation of Cusranche Tubulosa.  From grey to black, series of four paintings on display defined the timeline of a day. From the dawn till dusk, even featuring the red, reflecting the setting of the sun and how the reddish hues spread over the land and the water reflects a different aspect of experience of the day.  Nazar Yahya was invited by Hassan to come to Qatar at a time of unrest in Iraq that enabled him to continue working on his art, free from any limitations and restrictions. The exhibition also features a particular piece by Yahya which pays a tribute to Sheikh Hassan’s love for cheetahs, sitting calmly next to King Faisal I of Iraq, a mesh of Iraq and Qatar at its best. “I used colours that reflect the truth, but I added my personal taste,” said Yahya.  “A true artist knows beforehand that he will lose a part of his soul because it goes towards the artwork. When one accepts this world, he needs to know that there is a destructive energy to art, as if it’s a sickness that mocks him. You live your life accepting this disease like a person who is born with diabetes. There must be honesty between an artist and his canvas.” Look at the pieces on display at the exhibition and most of them definitely have his reflection, even the ones created by Sheikh Hassan. The pioneer of modern Arab Art, Dia al-Azzawi, is also responsible for the façade of the building. The friendship between Dia and Sheikh Hassan dates back to the 1990s, when the Arab Centre was only the villa of Sheikh Hassan with Cheetahs roaming around the centre, as a muse to the artist’s creations and mood. Both, Dia and Hassan used to often sketch and draw together and despite working independently elements of collaboration between the two sometimes glimpsed in Sheikh Hassan’s work. The main attraction of Dia’s work on display was the 4 metre tall sculpture he had created over the period of six years, inspired by his archaeological studies of the Babylonian and Assyrian empires as well as his studies of ancient Egyptian art. The eyes of the sculpture are pronounced, even protruding like almond shaped, taking inspiration from Egyptian heritage. “Having more that one artists working at the same place creates a level of internal dialogue. Artists do not necessarily influence each other, although that is possible in the long ter. Humans by nature seek to know each other closely and artists are the same,” said Dia.

Gulf Times
It’s lawn season

The wait is almost over! The teasers for fabric for Summer collections 2019 are out as are the billboards. And this time it doesn’t just say lawn, it says silk and chiffon too. Also there’s nothing controversial about any of the campaigns taking over Pakistan this year, unlike previous few years where even a brand like Sana Safinaz was under scrutiny for Muzlin collection, featuring African people in the background. There are people starving and then there are people buying designer lawn. The prices have definitely gone higher but are they worth it? There are six seasons in Pakistan, including Spring, Summer, Winter, Autumn, Shaadi and Lawn season. Here’s to the big guns of lawn, making sophisticated moves as they tap the vast market. Despite the umpteen designers who’ve signed up with umpteen textile mills with vast resources at their disposal, the event of the year remains the lawn of these three designers. With their campaign on the hook and their collection almost in the market, we can see that no one has really put in the kind of effort, they have into their fabric or campaigns. The loyalists keep coming back for the quality; and these designers ensure pure silk and pure chiffon, not synthetic material and the lawn itself wears well and lasts. Brace yourself and head to their stores, you’ll need some water on hand, because there’s going to be traffic jams and never before witnessed stampedes. Bisou Bisou! Zara Shahjahan The very summery ‘Jahan’ from Zara Shahjahan’s upcoming lawn line takes inspiration from the hues of Marrakesh. Its featuring timeless florals fashioned into a layered design and making a statement with its Moroccan colour palette. Zara’s trademark motifs can be seen meshed with local flowers like Persian rose. Subtle hues, pastels, every flowing chiffon dupattas and flared trousers – all too summery for a day-out! Elan Elan has taken its signature aesthetic a step further and brought fashion back into lawn. Attention to detail in prints with western cuts featuring gowns rather than conventional shalwar kameez is a statement. Redefining the purveyor of subtleness ‘in-between’ going creative and experimenting with looks has won millennials over the period of time. Psychedelic taffeta prints in saturated colours, blending together the finest cuts and western craftmaship of Elan and the extravagant touch of animalier. The looks are perfect for formal evening shenanigans. Bold colours on the exaggerated print turn more flamboyant with golden buttons on the front panels of the long shirt dress. The most interesting detail belt with jewel toned floral motif. Zainab Chottani Zainab’s luxe lawn range encapsulates the cheerfulness of spring with a vibrant colour palette and bold prints along with a few subtle shades to keep up with the heat of Pakistani summer. The campaign for the collection has been shot at the breathtaking landscape of Cameron Highlands in Malaysia. Be it giving the shades of resort collection or sequin drenched silhoettes, Zainab is all about details, and for her the saturated colours is a resounding yes! Looking at the designs, Zainab Chottani has celebrated the wonders of nature by depicting blooming flora and fauna with earthy tones and warm hues. Produced on the finest of lawn fabrics and woven jacquards, the designer has played with her exquisite signature style to create a premium capsule collection of exquisite 20 designs. Mixing and matching and bursting with colours!