Shahida Ahmed is an artist, art educator, art activist and sculptor. The Pakistan-origin British national sees art as a “universal dialogue.” With her diverse background, education and multicultural experiences, Shahida believes that there is a lot of potential in the Doha art scene for “internationalisation.” Shahida calls herself ‘She, the artist.’ She insists that she should be referred to as an artist without being specified that she is a British, or a Pakistani or a Muslim or a female. She does not like to be stereotyped. Community recently caught up with the dynamic all-round artist. Shahida, who chose not speak about her private life much, has a very diverse family background. She said: “My father’s family migrated to Pakistan from Jalandhar, a city in Indian Punjab. My mother’s family comes from Iraq. My maternal grandfather used to work for railways in Lahore. “For me, I am an artist. In 2016, during an interview, I made a statement that I am not a race, a culture, and I am not a religion. I am just she, the artist. My art is not about what I am. It is purely about me.” Shahida got professional education in art. “My university degree is basically in visual arts. I got scholarship for Royal College of Art London in 1996. I was also given licentiateship of Society of Designer Craftsmen. Then, I went into teaching. I specialised in educational leadership and management. I also have qualifications in community leadership. I have been very much involved in building links through art and dialogue using art in communities whether it is political or educational cause.” Shahida got attracted to creative arts when she was doing her A Levels. “One day, I accidently ended up in a pottery class. When I first touched clay, I remembered my mother saying to me when I was very young that God made me from clay. As a material, I was fascinated how you manipulate and change a lump of clay into an object. As a result of that, I got a connection with clay. I thought it was a spiritual connection. “I travelled to different Muslim countries with my mother. (When) I saw the Islamic architecture I thought why am I not representing all this in my work in the west. So as a subject, Islamic art became a theme in my clay work and later on in my paintings.” As an artist, she can create and copy different objects. Her creativity however, is not in copying. “My creativity is when I express something that is coming from me. Recently, I have been doing a series of paintings showing children being in light bulbs. My heart connects with children. These are the children I have met. I see children are still in the streets begging and not going to schools. Actually, they are the light of the future so I put them in light bulbs. The trigger really is something that connects within me. It got to be a personal journey. Behind every theme or idea, there is a lot of sketching and a lot of research. “For me, it is not work. It is a passion. I do not restrict myself. People ask me about my bubble series — that why I paint bubbles. Continued from Page 5 For me, life is a bubble. My sculpture work is all influenced by Islamic architecture and calligraphy.” Shahida has been holding exhibitions in different countries. She has recently held an exhibition in Lahore, the cultural capital of Pakistan, where she received well deserved recognition. The artist also got many awards for her creative work. “I got Alhamra Arts Award. I am acknowledged as the first female Muslim ceramic artist in UK coming from South Asian background. My works have travelled to museums in Australia, Sharjah, Doha, Pakistan, Lebanon, and UK. “As an artist, I think it is really about showing a dialogue and having an opportunity to exhibit in prestigious galleries.” Shahida has been in the field of education for a long time. She has been giving part time lectures on observational drawing and critical analysis at Virginia Commonwealth University. “I have been working with the Ministry of Education in Qatar, looking at their creative development for new policies in art and design in secondary schools for the last couple of years. I have been in Doha since 2012. “I am an educator. I believe education is important to change the lives of young people. I am fascinated to see how art and design development has taken place in this part of the world, matching international level. I have done a case study and I have shown the ministries how we have raised the bar for engagement of art and design. For me, there is a wealth of opportunity here. As an international educationalist, I feel I’ve got the expertise to bring that here and develop that.” For Shahida, art is her lifeline. She thinks that all people have artistic abilities. “Everything around us is art. For me, art is seen through a certain lens and that lens comes from my soul. It is an interpretation of the soul. But you have to have creativity within you. It is a way of releasing your creativity. “Art is an unconditional love. You can just do it for no reason. It is a sense of inner satisfaction. As far as achievement is concerned, as a female artist, I think there is a huge chasm in the market where female art is still not as successful as male art is. The male artists are dominating the world. However, women have come far. In this century, it is important that we encourage female artists to establish themselves. We are the window for the future. For me, art is a struggle and a journey.” Shahida wants to celebrate her creativity by showcasing her two decade-long journey. “I want to showcase because I want to encourage other people. I like to tell them that there is always an opportunity out there.” The established artist advises the young female artists to have a back-up plan. “Art does not fetch a regular income. In my case, the back-up is my education. I have my regular job. Secondly, do not ever give up on your passion. Carry on and be persistent and it will pay off.” Shahida feels fortunate to be in Doha. She praises the city for having world class exhibitions. “I think still there is a huge scope for a lot of internationalism. We need to bring more and more Muslim female artists into the mainstream. In my case, I have got good recognition in the UK. I have been invited to Downing Street to present my art. I did a solo exhibition for Prince Charles in 2010. It is our cultural responsibility to acknowledge and promote Muslim female artists. “Art is a universal dialogue. It is for everyone. I think we need to look inwards (to ascertain) how we can promote and bring art together outside the cultural barriers. It brings communities together. I think we need to develop a lot more internationalism. It is important for the youth of this country.”
The hostile weather and challenging conditions could not dampen the buoyant spirit of sand artists as they recently attended a five-day-long art competition near Sealine Beach Resort. The first of its kind sand art competition, organised by Visual Arts Center, was won by a Filipino artist, who is an interior designer by profession. As many as 20 artistes from different nationalities – including visiting artists from Oman and Kuwait – took part in the competition that saw first four prizes going to the sand sculptures and the fifth and other prizes going to contestants in the drawings. According to the organisers, the art event turned the shores of Qatar into an open museum. On the sidelines of the competition, there were art workshops attended by talented children and their families. The competition turned into a kind of sand art festival for visitors. The sand competitions are a rarity in Arab countries. There are, however, different individual artists who show their dexterities on the shores of different Middle Eastern countries. Qatar is considered the first country in the region to organise such a kind of competition. The organisers intend to plan a bigger competition on an international scale from next year after witnessing the success and popularity of the contest. In a sanguine prize distributing ceremony, Hamad al-Zekaiba, Director of the Culture and Arts Department of the Ministry of Culture and Sports, honoured the winners of the competition with medals and cash rewards. He expressed his immense pleasure over the success of the art competition. Michael Conjusta, Filipino artist, won the first prize for his sculptor showing traditional and modern architectures of Doha. He was rewarded with QR25,000 While a group of artists namely, Seyyedeh Somayeh Hosseini, from Iran, Israa Abouchanab and Alissar Abouchanab, from Lebanon, earned second place. The amount for the second prize was QR15, 000. The third place went to the Indian artist Kotteeswari Mahesh. The artist received QR10, 000. Qatari artist Mubarak al-Malik stood fourth. Another Qatari artist Jaber Hamad al-Hanzab stood fifth. Each of them received QR5, 000. Speaking on the occasion, Salman al-Malik, Director of the Center for Visual Arts, described the turnout as “remarkable,” as it achieved great interaction from the artists and the talents, who participated in the accompanying workshops. Al-Malik thanked all the participating artists. “This response reflects the firm desire to practise in such arts, drawings on the beach, or preparing sculptures on it. We made sure to have the motto – art for all. We also ensured the spreading of visual excitement in the community and making the shores of Qatar an open museum.” He continued: “The effort has effectively achieved the vision of the Ministry of Culture and Sports – working towards a community conscious and genuine love for arts. It has sought to achieve the strategic objectives of the Center to support artists and nurture and embrace the companions.” About the awards jury, he said: “We relied on the composition of the artists and experts, ensuring the awards go to those who deserve them. It has enhanced the objectivity of the competition that accompanied the cash awards.” On one hand, the winners were very pleased to participate in the event, the first of its kind in Qatar. They also appreciated the vision of the centre for introducing a new competition in Qatar. Michael, who has been living in Qatar for 21 years, considered himself very fortunate to take part in the competition and to win the first prize. “At one point of time, I became hopeless. I was not able to complete my sculptor named ‘Traditional and Modern Doha.’ The weather was very unfriendly for me to create the sand sculptor. There was intermittent rain and strong winds creating hurdles for me. I worked from 10am to 5pm for two days piling up sand and making it wet with water. Third day I started making my sculptor. On fourth day, there were rains and strong winds that destroyed my unfinished work. On the fifth day, I told the organisers that I could not complete as still there was rain. However, on the insistence of the organisers and some of my friends, I reached at the site at 3pm and resumed my work. They gave two extra hours to complete my work and I got first prize for that. “First of all I am thankful to MAPS International, a group of artists, for letting me know about the competition. Secondly, I appreciate the Center for giving the artists an opportunity to win some prizes. I was in need of money and I won it.” Rashmi Agarwal, Chairperson of MAPS International, said: “I am very happy that two of our group members got good prizes. Kotteeswari Mahesh is also a member of MAPS. Such competitions are definitely encouraging for the artist communities in Qatar. The ministry owes an appreciation.”
Numerous Doha-based expatriate artists have time and again accentuated Qatar’s landscape and culture through their creative skills. There have been so many foreign eyes that reflected on the native culture and scenery of this country. A recent illustration that brought Qatari culture into light was the photography exhibition ‘Glimpses of Qatari Culture’ held at the lobby of Marsa Malaz Kempinski, The Pearl-Doha on Saturday evening. The week-long exhibition showcases 12 creative photographs by Maria Ovsyannikova, Russian expatriate and fine art photographer. The photographs depict her craze for Arabian horses, Qatari culture and desert life. For the photographs, she has worked with different models to get the desired results in her artwork. Art enthusiasts, photographers and members of Russian and other expatriate communities thronged the Kempinski lobby to relish the creative work and appreciate the artistry of Maria on the opening day. The ambience of the lobby was made melodious with live music by a talented pianist. Hailing from Moscow, Maria has been living in Qatar for seven year and working as a professional photographer. She does architectural, landscape, product and food photography. Besides that, she has a passion for fine art, local culture and heritage. Inspired by Arabian culture, her photography artworks are based mostly around it. Her images come out as a result of a fascination with the tradition of Qatar. She is trying to take viewers on her own visual journey; Qatari deserts, clear waters of the north, modern cities, and old villages. For Maria, it is not always a representation of reality, but it is more a fantasy or a dream of the past. Her message is: ‘There is a hidden beauty in this particular region and through my pictures I would like to encourage people to learn more and go explore.” Talking to Community, Maria said: “I am happy to have my work displayed at Kempinski because it is a very art-friendly hotel. I have already done 10 exhibitions. In the collection on display here, I have mainly highlighted desert, sea and some glimpses of animals of Qatar like Oryx, camel or horse. I am very much in love with horses and you can see that in the images showcasing the understanding of the connection between a horse and a person. “These photos are staged. It is like a full production work. We organised models, animals, crops, environment and everything.” Maria does photography on a daily basis and enjoys it a lot in Qatar. “I think Qatar supports aspiring photographers a lot. I will continue doing that as much as I can. The minimalistic landscape of Qatar actually makes your brain work so much that you find angles and ways to shoot beautifully. Basically, it is challenging and I accept this challenge. I have been successful so far. Maria believes in enjoying photography. “First of all, you should do it [photography] from your heart. Secondly, you have to shoot as much as you can and explore as much as you can. You have to feel the beauty. Only then you will get amazing images.” She has been planning to collaborate with different artists like writers, poets and painters. “Right now, I am working on a book which will be related to beautiful, sacred and undying relationship between horses and humans. When I show a good photo to my audience, I feel very complete. The photo goes into masses and spreads the message. I observe the reaction and love my work.” Faisal al-Hajri is a Qatari artist. He is an art director of Unesco club in Athens. He said: “It is a great opportunity to meet the photographer – Maria. I see so much passion and love in her photographs. It got my attention that she is very much a global artist and has been capturing the local Qatari subjects. There are very beautiful emotions in her photos on display today. I feel very proud to see Doha is a home for everyone.” Natalie Wherlock is a British expatriate and works as a copy-writer in Qatar. She said: “I really love Maria’s work. It is not just a kind of still piece. You can always see a story behind her work. It leaves quite a lot to your own imagination, which I like in any art form. “There is a kind of beauty in Qatar that not all people will see. It takes a lot of creativity to create that. I see that she has really fallen in love with Qatar. As a wordsmith, I can imagine the poetry in her photos.”
The struggles in life become sweet if we have a purpose. Accomplishing small goals while keeping your eyes set on a bigger purpose makes the struggles of life sweet and steady. The life-long struggle of 42-year-old Abdul Nassar has been marked with exemplary accomplishments. It is a story about a journey from abject poverty, through desolate orphanage to educational excellence, an enviable career path and inspirational achievements. Nassar, an Indian expatriate and a chartered accountant by profession, is going to surmount the highest peak of the world – Mount Everest. He believes that he is going to be the first Indian living in Qatar and first ever chartered accountant attempting to ascent the mount. An ardent athlete, Nassar is also a marathon runner, writer, and a motivational speaker. Son of a prayer leader in Kerala, he has been working in the oil and gas sector in Qatar since 2007. While talking to Community, before leaving for Nepal, he said that he was going to take the attempt as the next challenge in his life. He has already taken part in Ironman Race in Malaysia and different marathons around the world including Qatar. He has also written an inspirational book motivating people to try and materialise their dreams. “I am also an advocate for girls’ education. I am taking up the challenge only to make my three daughters proud. I want to show them that with dedication and hard work, everything can be achieved,” said Nassar, who will land in Nepal on April 16 after a short visit to India. About the expedition, he said: “I had tasted a little bit of the mountain experience when I summited 12,763 feet high Kuwari Pass, Himalaya, from Utharaknad, India in 2015. A guide aptly said that there are two types of people he has come across. There are people who never come back after their first experience and those who keep coming back, falling in love with mountains on their first visit. Then I realised that I belong to the second group.” He returned to the mountains for the second time on April 19, 2018, trekking to Everest Base Camp (17,600 feet). “I sighted Everest closely from Kaala Pathar Mountain Peak (18,519 feet) at sunrise. I decided to return and conquer the majestic mountain.” Explaining the expedition itinerary, the mountaineer said: “I will leave Doha for India April 12 (today). I will land in Nepal on April 16 to join the expedition team Seven Summit Treks PLTD, comprising of 26 international climbers, hailing from India, Spain, Italy, USA, Australia and UK. “The duration of the expedition will be 60 days. The maximum altitude is 8,848 metre or 29,029 feet. We will be walking for five to seven hours every day. We will depart from Kathmandu on April 18.” Nassar will take the southern route to the summit. “This trip suits those who have previous experiences of few 7,000m peaks or even more. The real trek apparently starts from the base camp and to reach the base camp takes you around seven days on foot. Then we will move on to the camp I (6,065m) where we will see Khumbu Glacier. From Khumbu Glacier, we will cover around 450m on a gradual slope to reach Camp II (6,750m) and then will cover around 610m to be at Camp III (7,100m). Camp III is located at the head of Lhotse. From this point onwards, we will need oxygen cylinders. We will reach the Camp IV (7,910m) after crossing 8,000m elevations. This point is also known as the Death Zone. “Mount Everest expedition is undoubtedly a lifetime opportunity. Nevertheless, these expeditions encounter many hindrances such as high altitude, severe weather conditions and avalanches. One must be well trained before actually trying it. You need to get your body ready for the 8,848m climb to the Everest’s summit. Depending on your current level of fitness, you need to train for several months before you start your ascent. A climber must build his/her cardiovascular strength along with muscular strength. Oxygen level drops by 60-70 percent from sea level. Also make sure you can carry big bag packs to top as you will be carrying cylinder of oxygen and large bag packs along with you. One must acclimatise with weather conditions and be prepared for rock falls, avalanches. Learning rescue techniques would be added advantages.”
Set on the coastline at Katara – near St. Regis Hotel — the ongoing Palestine Cultural Festival continues to attract visitors from different communities living in Doha. The festival – a yearly feature – started on April 4 and will continue until April 13. Organised by the Embassy of Palestine in Qatar in collaboration with Katara—the Cultural Village Foundation, the festival has been offering a host of activities and cultural shows, highlighting the Palestinian heritage. The festival was opened by Katara general manager Dr Khalid bin Ibrahim al-Sulaiti, along with several dignitaries and diplomats. The festival includes daily shows at a big stage set up in the arena showcasing various cultural aspects. These include Zajal, which is a type of Palestinian poetry, as well as the folkloric Palestinian dance, Dabke, and coral operetta. The event also features a traditional Palestinian market displaying various types of handicrafts and food from Palestine. It has also introduced some young Palestinian talented artistes such as Mohamed Basyouni, who has been brought from Gaza to perform traditional Palestinian songs at the festival. Further, a puppet show for children explaining the Palestinian cause and to raise awareness about the struggle of the Palestinian people has also been a crowd puller. The final day of the festival will be themed ‘Jerusalem Day’ and witness the hosting of renowned Palestinian musician Bassem al-Ashqar. Talking to Community, Ammar Anbtawi, representative of Final Vision Event Management and chairman of the organising committee, said: “Our mission is to bring Palestine to Qatar. The festival is generally divided into three main parts. First phase is the traditional Palestinian market where we have brought different kinds of stuff such as food, handicrafts, recycled jewellery, foot wares and other items directly from Palestine. “We also have numerous participants – coming from Palestine —showing their skills in embroidery, making designs on olive wood, ceramics, and gypsum etc. the other phase is related artistic performances. We have some artistes coming straight from Palestine to carry out live performances for the visitors every evening in the pleasant weather. A Palestinian artist has also exhibited her paintings at the festival. The artistes have been presenting different songs, traditional dances, and folk dances such as Zajal. We have a young singer — nine-year-old Mohamed Basyouni – who has been performing daily. Honestly speaking, the boy suffered while trying to come to Qatar because of the border situation. It took him one week to get the chance to reach here. He was supposed to attend the opening ceremony but he could not.” The organiser further explained: “In the festival, we have 42 shops. We have two restaurants with two small pushcarts selling traditional Palestinian sweets. We have around 56 people coming from Palestine for the festival. We started setting up the festival in 2016 and now it has become an annual feature. However, we could not organise it last year. We have an understanding with Katara that it will be held every year at the same venue.” Ammar expressed his happiness over the response of his community and other people to the festival. “The response has been more than what we have expected. We have the visitors all the day — even the weather is little hot in the day time. The market area is open at the day time. The cultural and musical activities start in the evening. We have visitors from all backgrounds and from all communities.” The organiser thanked Katara for providing the logistic supports and Ooredoo, the official sponsor. “We are eight people in the organising committee for the festival. There are about 30, 000 Palestinians living in Qatar.” Sana Jaffery has a small shop selling silver and aluminium jewellery. She said: “I recycle silver jewellery to make new designs. I also use aluminium to make jewellery designs. I live in Ramallah. I have been to Qatar for the fourth time. I like to be here. The people here are very kind. We feel that we are in our home. “My special items are recycled silver jewellery. We are five women and work together to recycle and design silver jewellery.” Amjad Zaghal, a young Palestinian man, has brought different foot wares from his country. He said: “I come from Hebron city. I work as a shoe seller for a shoe company. We have our own factory in the city. It is great opportunity for us Palestinians to sell our products and introduce our famous items outside Palestine. This is my first time in Qatar and people here are very lovely and friendly.”
If you want to check out the melting pot that is Qatar in all its glorious diversity, then, there are few places that match the buzz of MIA Park bazaar, spreading cheer every Friday and Saturday come winter. With summer readying to sizzle, the latest edition is coming to a close. The bazaar brings together people from a range of nationalities and walks of life, but most of all affords those who can do with making some welcome extra cash to make their lives just that wee bit easier to sell wares without having to spend on the sales point, which the local authorities are happy to provide. The defining feature of this place is that it is full of life without being overly noisy. With an evident joie de vivre, you’re ever so likely to bump into interesting people, things and of course, cultural vistas. If your only purpose coming here was to shop for souvenirs, for instance, it is unlikely you would leave feeling unfulfilled. On account of personal interest, there’s art and aesthetics in artifacts that bring unmitigated joy. Again, there’s such multiplicity in store. The only tinge of sadness, if you have an artist’s heart, is when you consider many of these fine artists are selling works of brilliance, not to say passion, toil and sweat for a song. You wonder if they had had a better draw, they’d be making a killing, in another place and another time, perhaps. Food is another unmissable palate. The variety on offer — though it would unlikely compare favourably with say, the spice and sizzle of high-end dining — still ticks the ‘will-do’ mark. Again, on second thoughts, there’s always the possibility of snacking that all can enjoy. All in all, it’s always a joy returning to these lazy winter afternoon rendezvous. — Text and photos by Kamran Rehmat
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.
Music is a great instrument for peace and equality in the world and this is one message an upcoming, young musician is trying to let his audience know through his concept, ‘Music for Universal Peace and Friendship.’ A renowned violinist, who has performed on various high profile concerts and events, in and outside India, Faiz Mohamed is embarking on an ambitious project of travelling to various countries and performing with musicians from nearly 100 countries around the world. “My dream is to perform with as many people as possible from around the world. This is my humble message to the entire world that music can be a great platform to come out of the differences and usher in global peace and friendship,” said, Faiz. Faiz was in Qatar to take part in the country-wide launch of an Indian movie, Lucifer where he performed in the presence of a number of leading superstars of the Indian film industry. “I plan to travel to as many countries as possible and meet and interact with musicians there. I have already started the preparations for the same. Later, I plan on performing with these musicians at a live programme on a large platform. If any of them cannot come for a live performance, I will record my performance with them,” he explained. “My plan is to bring musicians from these countries and perform together. So there will be a minimum of 100 musicians playing on stage with me. The fusion programme from various genres of music will be a great feast for the music lovers. I am planning for a concert that lasts for more than two hours,” continued Faiz. Faiz has already performed with musicians from 44 countries at a concert which was highly appreciated by some of the best musicians in the Indian film and music industry. He thinks that Qatar is an ideal spot for a bigger performance as the country is pushing ahead in promoting music and culture in a big way. Moreover, he feels that there is a large global population here as the Qatar community has representation from most countries in the world and there will be enough representation from each country to enjoy the concert in its true sense. “This is a humble attempt to connect the world through music. I plan to send out a message that music brings everyone together and brings equality among people and nations.” “My intention is to encourage the nations to forget their differences with others and bring them on the table for dialogue and harmony,” he added.
Jaleyah Collier had just said goodbye to Kevin Cleveland outside a doughnut shop a few blocks from Hawkins High School on a spring afternoon in 2017. Get home safe, she told him before walking way. Minutes later someone drove into an alley nearby, got out of the car and asked Kevin, 17, and two others about their gang affiliation. The gunman then sprayed them with at least 10 rounds, killing Kevin and wounding the others. Jaleyah, 17, then a high school sophomore, barely had time to grieve when a month later, her best friend, Alex Lomeli, 18, was shot and killed when someone tried to rob a market about a mile from the same high school. In the early hours of May 13, 2018, two other teenagers Jaleyah was close to, Monyae Jackson and La’marrion Upchurch, were walking home with friends when they were shot to death near Dymally High School. Each of Jaleyah’s friends was killed within walking distance of public high schools in Los Angeles. “You don’t know when it’s going to be a person’s last day,” said Jaleyah, a senior at the Community Health Advocates School, one of three small schools on the Hawkins campus. Kevin “woke up not knowing.” While much of the recent national conversation on campus violence has focused on mass shootings, schools also deal with other physical and psychological harms that thousands of students experience directly or indirectly near campuses. In Los Angeles County, at least one homicide occurred within a mile of 89 percent of public high school campuses, according to a Times analysis of data from 2014 through 2018. There were at least 50 homicides within a mile of 15 campuses during those years. The effects of that violence can be devastating and costly. Campuses have begun incorporating the inevitability of trauma into their curricula, addressing stress reduction and how to settle differences without resorting to violence. Students have symptoms resembling post-traumatic stress disorder, and psychiatric social workers are a staple on many campuses. Because there is too little mental health funding to meet the need, teachers and staff are often on the front lines in identifying the warning signs of emotionally needy students. One concern is practical: getting safely to and from school, avoiding not just bullets, but also flashpoints, street harassment, hit-and-runs and muggings. With limited district busing, some students use public transportation or other options. On their journeys, they sometimes pass candle- and flower-filled memorials to fallen friends. Carl Hull, 16, a sophomore at Dymally High School, starts his walk to school each morning by turning into an alley to avoid gang members who live on his street. Once, when he was wearing a gray sweatshirt with the blue Dodgers logo, they stopped him and asked about his affiliation — he’s not involved in gangs, he told them. Another morning, a few days after hearing gunfire near his house, he found a 9mm bullet shell. Each day, he said, is “like a guessing game.” Decades of research suggest that the effects of exposure to violence on teenagers are wide-ranging and can result in anxiety, depression, anger, absences and an inability to concentrate in class. Even if students didn’t know the victims, they see reminders on social media, memorial posts and the T-shirts that friends and family wear in trying to raise money for funerals. Jaleyah woke up May 13 to find her Instagram feed filled with posts about the shooting of Monyae and La’marrion, she said. Children in high-crime areas are “losing more people in their youth than most of us have lost when we get to 30 or 40,” said Ferroll Robins, executive director of the nonprofit organisation Loved Ones Victims Services, which counsels victims of violence and their families. “I do worry about what is going to happen to them emotionally, mentally. How bad are they really being scarred?” Robins said. “And how much of those scars are going to play into their life later?” Jason Powell knows he can’t begin teaching his English and music classes at Dymally until the kids can address the latest violence in their lives. Over the past five years, 105 people have been killed within a mile of the campus, the highest number surrounding any public high school in the county. Ten of the victims were 18 or younger. Last year alone, 20 people were killed within a mile — about one every 2 1/2 weeks. Sometimes they are current or former students, including Monyae. After the deaths of La’marrion and Monyae, Powell gathered his ninth-graders into circles during class and asked them how they deal with pain. The exercise was intended to develop positive coping and conflict resolution skills. One by one, the students took turns telling stories of loss. Similar scenes played out at several area schools where students had known the boys who were killed. When a friend dies, “they come in welled up with emotion, they’re crying and there’s no way they can concentrate on the lesson at hand, so whatever’s on the board as far as the lesson plan, that means nothing,” Powell said. “They need more immediate help.” Jaleyah said that seeing the therapist on campus didn’t help her, but that participating in similar community circles at Hawkins taught her how to voice her anger and channel it into action. “They give us a chance to speak and feel free [in] what we have to say, without being afraid,” Jaleyah said. Sometimes the loss is unrelenting. As Dymally was preparing for graduation just weeks after former student Monyae’s death, there was more bad news: Campus aide James Lamont Taylor was killed at 8:30am, walking on the street about a mile from the school. The journey their children take just getting to school is a source of stress for their parents, too. Carl’s mother worries about him getting robbed or shot on the way to Dymally, or hit by a car while crossing the street. Her older son, Brian Hull, was killed in 2016 crossing the street near her home. She and Carl have grown used to hearing gunshots from their apartment in Broadway-Manchester, less than a mile from the high school. She’s afraid that when he walks down the alley behind their home to get to school, he’ll get hurt. “I have real bad, heavy anxiety,” Latanya Hull said. One afternoon in September, she began to worry when Carl didn’t get home at the usual time. His phone was broken, so she couldn’t reach him. She called the school. Carl was there, they said, in after-school tutoring. A member of Dymally’s school site council, Hull said she wants to see staff pay more attention to the climate on campus and try to understand the root of students’ problems rather than suspending or arresting them. For example, she praised the school’s assistant principal, Deon Brady, because he gets to know students on campus, welcoming them in the mornings and mingling at lunch. He takes parents’ concerns seriously, Hull said. Though more and more schools are adding full-time mental health workers, some still deploy them only in emergencies — such as when a student or staff member is killed. At Fremont High in the Florence neighbourhood, seven academic counsellors have been trained to look for signs that a student may be in mental distress, Principal Luis Montoya said. The watch commanders at the local police station have Montoya’s number, so they can alert him when something has happened that might affect his students. “We work in this community. Your job cannot be an academic counsellor only,” Montoya said. By his junior year at Fremont, Juan Mercado said, he had witnessed a double homicide at a park in East LA, a shooting near his home, and had been robbed at gunpoint while skateboarding outside the school. He felt depressed and anxious, always looking over his shoulder, ditching classes and dropping extracurricular activities. His mentality became: “I’m trying super hard in school, trying to get good grades and everything, for some random dude [to] just like, take that from me and then all of that work will be gone,” he said. Juan got the nerve one day in senior year to ask his academic counsellor for help. She called a campus-based therapist, who began counselling Juan once a week at school. It was the push he needed to get his grades back on track. He graduated on time and is enrolled at L.A. Trade Tech, with aspirations to transfer to UCLA. “If she would have told me OK, like, ‘Come back tomorrow or we’ll talk to him tomorrow’ and stuff, I just probably never would have gone,” Juan said. —Los Angeles Times/TNS
There are few people who simply follow their dreams and desires in life. Monetary motivation and eagerness to excel in a certain profession are the trails that the majority follows. Mohammad Salman Abedini, who goes by the adopted moniker Romeo, has the grit to follow his dreams. The 28-year-old Iranian is gifted with a creative mind and is a versatile artist, fast making his name in painting, poetry, music and filmmaking. Born and brought up in Qatar, Romeo’s father is from Iran and his mother from India. He is at home in Persian, Hindi/Urdu, and English. His creative works speak volumes of his philosophy of life — Sufism. Recently Community caught up with Romeo to get to know more about the man and his art. Romeo is the name he was given by his class fellows when he was in a college in India. “They used to call me Romeo, maybe, because of my temperament and interest in creative activities. I used to take interest in subjects related to art more than other subjects like pure sciences.” His father works with a government organisation in Qatar. He has one older brother and two younger sisters. “All my other siblings are in the medical field. I am the only one who took after art, poetry and music. I studied in India and did my bachelors in English Literature.” It was not in his college that he got attracted to creative arts. He started getting fascinated by poetry and Sufism when he was only 12. “In my home, I saw a poetry book of Khwaja Shams-ud-Din Muhammad Hafez-e-Shirazi, known by his pen name Hafez. It is a classic book with heavy vocabulary. It made me curious about Sufism — the way humankind loves God. This also led me to read other Persian poetry books. I also started writing romantic poetry. This is how I started writing poetry.” Romeo sometimes finds it difficult to express his feelings and emotions through poetry. His feelings then find an expression in painting. “When I felt short of words to express my inner emotions, I would start painting. I would use colours instead of words to say whatever I wanted. This all was happening in my teens.” The young artist did not stop with painting and writing. The creative traits in him also led him to music. “When I was 16 or 17, I and my brother bought our first guitar. It was a time when everybody used to carry a guitar even they did not use to play. It was a kind of fashion. I used to follow Gypsy Kings and other pop music groups. I used to play well-known pop songs. “I actually started playing guitar for my mom. She really loved Bollywood and classical Hindi songs. When I went to India for studies, I started attending my music and guitar classes there. Since then, I have been creating my own themes and playing guitar. The artist continues to follow his creative urge. “Art is my field and I knew it from the beginning. I could never understand subjects like mathematics, chemistry and physics. I was interested in sketching and painting and my teachers used to encourage me. Painting has become a kind of medication for me — connecting with God. As far my paintings go, I have taken part in two group exhibitions in India and one in Iran. I am now planning to have a solo exhibition in Qatar. “For me, art is the simplest way to explain the philosophy of life. I try to paint philosophy. My art work is symbolic and abstract. I mostly use acrylic colours.” As far as his poetry in Persian goes, Romeo has published a book and is working on two more books simultaneously. Malodi-e-Baran (Music of Rain) is the name of his first book. It is an anthology of modern Persian poetry. “People in Iran really like poetry as a genre. They prefer poetry over short stories or novels. My book was published in my native area of Bandar Abbas in Iran in 2017. It was quite an amazing experience for me when I saw how much love my book received from the readers. In the book, I have expressed my own thoughts about Sufism. It is about just being honest to oneself and being in love with God. The book also reflects my experiences of living away from my country.” The young poet finds it amazing how human beings use complicated language to express their feelings. “I do not know it is our weakness or strength. We make simple things complicated and vice versa. I observe our society. I pen down my observations in poetry. I see that in today’s world, we have lost our innocence — the child in us. We are following materialistic desires. May be, we have killed the child inside.” The musical side of this creative individual is no less shiny. He learnt the fundamentals of music in India. “Practice is necessary. Many people think that singing is only about voice but it is not. The voice should be controlled. Singing is like controlling a wild horse. You have to control your voice to find a rhythm. “I write my lyrics and compose my own music with my guitar. I have taken part in some competitions in Qatar. I sing in all three languages — Persian, Hindi and English. There was a music competition in connection with the maiden concert by (Pakistani maestro) Rahat Fateh Ali Khan in Qatar in 2016. The organisers had the competition as a promotion. I won the first prize.” He is also adept at writing movie scripts, directing and acting in films. “I have also made a short movie in Qatar. It is a symbolic movie with a lot of philosophy in it. “Let me tell you truth it is not easy to carry along all these creative strains. However, I think and plan to make my name in the field of movie making because it can include all my creative talents. I plan to have a theatre play in Qatar bringing people of all nationalities together.” Romeo believes the real value of living in Qatar is realised only when one visits some other countries. “You feel how blessed you are to be in Qatar and have all kinds of basic facilities. There is peace, security and good environment. It is safe for women and kids. “As an artist, I see Qatar as a perfect place to be. The country has all required facilities. You have to work hard. You need to have the passion to move forward. There are opportunities for all art genres.”
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!
Two years after the terrorist attacks on 9/11, Sarah Ansari launched Artizara, a San Diego-based modest Muslim fashion line designed to showcase the positivity and diversity of Muslim immigrants like herself who have made America their home. Recently, the Pakistan-born designer passed her message on through a new generation of immigrant girls who arrived in San Diego from refugee camps in Africa, Asia and the Middle East over the past six years. In a fashion show for about 150 guests at Ansari’s oceanfront home in Leucadia, the outdoor catwalk was shared by 11 professional models sporting Artizara’s spring 2019 fashion line and 10 local immigrant girls wearing the colourful cultural costumes of their home countries. Kicking off the show with a brief speech was 18-year-old Habon Hassan, whose Somali family spent six years in a Kenyan refugee camp before arriving in San Diego in 2014. Now a senior at Crawford High School, she will start college next fall with the goal of becoming an obstetrician-gynaecologist (OB-GYN). Hassan said that in 2018, just 1,200 international refugees arrived in San Diego, a city with a population of more than 1.4 million. As a result, most San Diegans may never encounter a new refugee so Hassan said locals don’t have a “reference point” for relating to the newcomers. “Refugees are coming from all over the world,” she said. “They wear different clothes, they come from different backgrounds and they eat different foods … but all of them have the same goal — to contribute to society.” Hassan is one of 19 young women enrolled in the International Rescue Committee’s Refugee Girls Academy in San Diego, which was the beneficiary of all ticket sales last Sunday. Founded three years ago in City Heights, it’s an after-school programme that provides empowerment, social, emotional, financial and career training to recently arrived refugee girls. Most of the academy members arrived in San Diego within the past two years from Ethiopia, Syria, Uganda, Tanzania, Thailand, Kenya, Somalia, and Congo. The yearlong programme is offered at Crawford and Hoover high schools in San Diego and at El Cajon Valley High School. It’s also offered for youth who are not in school, ages 16 to 24, at the El Cajon office of the International Rescue Committee. Refugee Girls Academy Coordinator Allison Ware said the programme was developed to provide these young women with the tools they’ll need to survive, thrive and compete equitably in their newly adopted home country. The girls learn skills like goal-setting, perseverance, career and college preparation, boundary-setting and social justice, as well as how to have healthy relationships with peers, family members and romantic partners. Academy member Halimo Yero, 16, immigrated to San Diego from Ethiopia in 2013. The Crawford High student said the biggest challenge she faced when she arrived was learning English and overcoming her shyness. “The programme has really helped me to become more outgoing and confident,” said Yero, who volunteered as a greeter at the fashion show. Ansari invited the academy students to take part in Sunday’s fashion show after being invited last fall to speak to the girls about careers in fashion. In a follow-up discussion between the girls and Artizara employees, Ansari said they came to a shared conclusion about what fashion means to them. “The clothes we wear are so much more than fashion,” Ansari said. “They are like a second skin. They are a powerful symbol of who we are. They speak about us before we ever open our mouths. They represent not only our personal sense of style but also our mood, culture, values and identity.” Ansari grew up in Pakistan where math, not fashion, was her passion. After earning her MBA, she and her husband, cardiologist Athar Ansari, moved to the US in 1990. They settled in Los Angeles, where she worked in banking and finance before they moved to San Diego in 1999. They now split their time between homes in Alpine and Leucadia. In 2003, she launched Artizara with a fellow Muslim woman friend who was an engineer at Qualcomm. Both had been frustrated over the difficulty of finding attractive modest professional attire. Ansari doesn’t wear a hijab or headscarf, but she also doesn’t wear short skirts or short-sleeved tops. Thanks to write-ups in the Washington Post and New York Times, Artizara took off. Ansari bought out her partner and gradually developed and positioned the brand to become one of the top emerging modesty fashion and lifestyle brands in the world. The company’s extensive product line includes floor-length kaftan-style dresses, long-sleeved tunics and pants, turbans, head and neck scarves, men’s and children’s wear, purses, jewellery, throw pillows and wall art. Artizara’s designs are based on classical Islamic art and poetry. The spring 2019 line was inspired by the words of Rumi, a 13th-century Sufi poet. “His poetry focuses on love and the opening of one’s heart to the universe around us,” Ansari said. “I think our collaboration with our inspiring volunteers did just that.” — The San Diego Union-Tribune/TNS — Sarah Ansari, designerz
The Sana Safinaz omnibus is on the road and it’s going to be one frisky, high fashion ride. The designer duo has stretched their business beyond their huge market for luxury pret, downright status of designer lawn queens since years now and not to mention their thriving bridals. 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. The fashion is never going to be the same again in Pakistan and trailblazing through it alongside Sana Hashwani and Safinaz Muneer is designer Mohsin Ali Tawasuli and a crew of vibrant, young designers that made the magic happen. It’s a move that Sana and Safinaz had been talking about for a long time and it’s culminated into a gorgeous, voluminous, utterly delectable bridal wear solo showcase that the brand had put up on the first day of Fashion Pakistan Week 2019 in Karachi. Everything, from the runway to the décor was exquisite. This designer duo knows how to work the market and how to work it right and perfect. The collection was called a ‘Message From the East’ and there were so many messages that it delivered on the glossy black catwalk: of Sana Safinaz’s ability to pull in the punches and expressing the brilliance and the glamour of women with a perfect mesh of ethnic and contemporary bridal wears. Sana Safinaz definitely gives the couture narrative a touch of flamboyance – in this collection, extravagance and lightness made a winning combination. Pairing contrasting hues with a dash of finesse, the embroideries ran in swirls and floral patterns and chalked Mughal scenes on to exaggerated sleeves, pants, coats and tunics. Sana Safinaz bridals are immediately recognisable and they does it with flair. Aiming to let the colours do the talking, the collection featured cuts and silhouettes with contemporary touches on tulle, cotton net, tissue trials and brocade tailoring cholli and lehngas. Naqshi handwork and dabka on tissue and net designed soft metallic drapes, gown, shararas and short shirts with shimmery hues dominated the runway. There was also some very heavy layering: dupattas overlapping multiple tiered skirts, trails, ribbon sashes and a mix of textured fabric. What also caught the eye was the styling: the girls wore sunshades and their long hair swung loose from printed bandannas, paired with ethnic angrakhas. With details including heavy embellishment of rhinestones and delicate silk floss thread work, the collection was woven in blush, deep reds, whilst subtle pastels were juxtaposed with renditions of flora and fauna in modern cuts and silhouettes. Block white lehngas with intricate kamdani work paired with futuristic exaggerated digital printed blouses in a water colour effect, embellished with nothing too extravagant – caterwauled highstreet international appeal, an element of edginess, practicality and above everything else, a great business brain. It won’t be erroneous to say that few pieces that trailed on the runway during the end of the showcase drew inspiration from the old-embroidery techniques and showed Sana Safinaz complete dominance on textures and prints. The separate Pakistani wardrobe, they are staples and embellished for bridal wear, they become heirloom pieces you can hold onto as you mix and match season after shaadi season. Also scattered amongst the panoply of womenswear were a few menswear options: elegantly tailored waistcoats and sherwanis, set off by a stoles and shawls in Oriental prints. Occasionally, the silhouette wavered towards trendier cuts – exaggerated blouses, off-shoulders, capes and boleros. This was sexy, high fashion designer wear! The silk pants were spot on, sexy backs fitted the contours of the body properly and dresses flowed as they should. The game for bridal wear and couture has been upped baby! Bisou Bisou!
Qatar Tourism Authority is thinking ‘export’ for Qatari fashion but there is a long road ahead yet. So what better way to promote the fashion savvy than with an eight-day long fashion festival, with the country’s razzmatazz gliding along the runway, international designers standing side besides to the local fashion creators and a space to explore what Qatari fashion and its heritage have to offer. Two skilled, exciting and international designers meshed in with a motley crew of local fashion labels made for a resounding start to eight days of ‘fashion forward’ activities of Shop Qatar’s Design District, it was a day of few lows and many highs. Bridal wear is desi fashion’s high point; it is to the sub-continent what couture is to the West – the most elaborate fantasy inspiring designers to go all out and it’s glorious to see them do just that. Traditional or modern? Long or short? Baroque embellishment or chic minimalism? Lace, jacquard or chiffon? The wed-worthy options can be as dazzling as they are overwhelming, but they are also romantic and exciting and on a whole new level of exquisite attention akin to that of couture. Where Abed Mahfouz featured his couture wedding gowns – flowing like a fluid with volume that could take over the world, Tarun Tahiliani was all about desi bridal wears with traditional cuts and silhouettes taking the centre stage. Abed Mahfouz Abed offered a plentitude of options for brides-to-be in a tightly edited and pretty sublime collection made in all subtle tones – mostly white and nude pink that made a wonderful transition into black couture pieces. Although the structure and tailoring for the black silhouettes was all over the place but the white strapless, backless gowns were the right balance between sleek and dramatic with veils, and metallic threads for subtle shimmer. White net veils with subtle glitterati embellishments right on the borders were elegant, even if paired with any other tone of gown. Nothing too extravagant – except few pieces that were too gold, even for a party! Two of the most striking looks from Abed’s showcase were the most minimal: one a rich olive green number with a dramatic neckline and pants – more of a jump suit, the other a beige net silhouette, tailored to perfection with magnificent fullness and traditional embroidering making flower patterns. Well he did it right – he opened the show with this piece. Each line had its own high points: Abed Mahfouz’s crepe gowns with lace were unquestionably pretty, as were the taffeta ball gowns with bodices covered in flowers. The only thing that concerned everybody was every model tripping in all those voluminous couture pieces. Imagine opening the show and the model trips – and then trips every other model before here. Ridiculous right? Either the trails were too long or the dresses were too heavy! But you can’t blame the designer really, if it’s wedding couture wear it is supposed to be this grand. Tarun Tahiliani Traditional cuts, heavily embellished dupattas, saris, pant saris and lehnga cholli - you name it and Tarun showcased. Apart from exquisitely crafted bridal womenswear pieces, Tarun also featured some menswear creations that caterwauled Maharaja and royal feels to it. Tarun brought traditional styles and contemporary cuts to his collection based on the regality of the Mughal era; worked in kora, dapka and lace work like a peek-a-boo for finishing – the bridal wear displayed a representation of the current bridal trend in terms of embellishment but in keeping with the needs of a more traditional bride. All those jasmine and crossandra garlands adorned with the tight hair buns was a vision, taking us back to the South Asian routes. The semi-formal clothes that came in was a more unique display and use of thread work with big, black motifs placed down the front of the kameezez provided linearity to the silhouettes. The ensemble was rich in culture Tarun was displaying as he offered modernity with sexy backless blouses, strapless heavily embellished gowns and sultry necklines. If you see Tarun’s pieces on a runway you’ll think how heavy they’ll be – in terms of weight - but they’re not. They are very light with fluid flowing silhoettes. Well that’s true for most of his pieces, except the last two – that featured traditional embroidery techniques with real craftsmanship, net dupattas and an inspiration drawing out from the Victorian era. Oh that royal pageantry. Verdict: Both Abed and Tarun have a winning formula for perfect couture, silhouettes, simple, stylish, high end concept, easy to buy and gorgeous to wear. Never expect something minimalism or simple – when these two designers are the lineup.
Diversity and pushing boundaries have never been hotter in the fashion industry and this isn’t just a trend, it’s a reality. Seeing some British models sashaying down the runway in London in the fluid silhouettes, signature drapes and haute couture pieces of Pakistani fashion designers – is pure joy. This December, 14th edition of Pakistan Fashion Week London, PR by Aamir Mazhar, took everyone in London on a whirlwind—and impossibly stylish — tour to intricate details of Pakistani couture lines and bridal wears. This odyssey is all thanks to the globally minded designers who simply refuse to see the borders. PFW London has undoubtedly conceived to allow Pakistani fashion to gain a foothold in the global fashion scene – an affair to display the Pakistan fashion trends to an international audience. If one were to chalk up the most defining qualities of the millennial Pakistani bride, attributes like individualistic, risk-taker, bold and unconventional would play the game to the most. And PFW London was a clear retort that caterwauled, that today’s bride wants her sartorial repertoire to be a narrative of her personality and sensibility; she wants her ensembles to be as high on comfort as they are on style. Lehengas, saris, kurtas – bright pink, sea of ivories or darker hues; which designer actually meshed the right traditional silhouette with modernity for millennial bride? Here’s a run-down to the top designer showcases. Aneesa Kiyani Effortless elegance combines with strong detailing and experimental styles. Classics with a twist and dash of colours where flowers met embroideries – a rich shade of green and interesting panels of sequins work, predictable yet sparkling collection by Aneesa. With beautiful colour combinations the silhouettes were mostly modern, running the gamut from harem shalwars to anarkali, angrakhas, off shoulder blouses, full length trailing gowns and the inevitable lehngas. The rich layering to raise motifs, dabka and gota-work particularly stood out. Attire by Bushra Wahid Making a strong case for pastel, Bushra’s collection featured festive wears – everything one can effortlessly pull off for an evening. It featured nothing too extra or bling – subtle line of work, with traditional cuts and lines – staying true to Pakistani fashion with all the lace work, fabric and gotta work. Sexy cigarette pants were tailored to perfection! There was no innovation in silhouette, craft and palette, but hey this was a retail collection – that could easily be sold out for contemporary wearers. Safe collection to play with Bushra! Aisha Ibrahim Maroon, nudes and corals; Dabbka, gotta and zarri work making a heavy case for Bridals in Aisha’s case. Glittering with sequins, blending colours, merging the embellished shirt with the embellished lehnga and layering it up with the embellished dupatta; If you haven’t realised it already, embellishment was the most noticeable feature in this collection. Too much banarsi wear but its traditional and if you can pull it off – why not! The designs followed ethnic silhouettes and embellishment techniques, playing with plenty of silk, chiffon dupattas and embroideries running in a mish-mash of colour that merged well, well sometimes. Purple with maroon was block yet pleasing for some, at least for us. Aisha Imran On a predominantly shimmery palette of maroons and tangerine with occasional pops of colour, Aisha’s collection featured traditional bridal silhouettes: ghararas, lehnga cholis and knee light heavily embroidered shirts. Silhouettes stayed safe, though, not really bothering to set new trends. One model was on the ramp wearing black stocking under a lehnga that popped out of her heels. Wait? What? Invest your time in every detail, such things ruin the entire look. Shirin Hassan Popping with colours, the entire collection was a visual treat to contemporary silhouettes. Some sexy backlines, prints and minimalism took over the runway. The colour range ran wide, from ivory to pastels, fuschia and bright pink, this collection marked Shirin’s definitive run for the limelight. Designs were well-constructed and neat, embellished with a pleasing mix of shimmer and embroidery. The collection was very put out featuring ensembles for every wedding festive one requires – from yellow opulence to black and maroon elegance. Setting up the beat for Pakistani fashion in London.
Sheraton Grand Doha Resort & Convention Hotel announces the appointment of Yazan Latif as the new hotel manager. He will be responsible for overseeing the entire hotel operations at Sheraton Grand Doha. Prior to his current appointment, he was the Director of Rooms at Yas Viceroy Hotel in another Gulf country. Latif brings over 18 years of commercial and operational experience in the hospitality industry, and has an impressive record of leadership and commitment to quality and service, which will enable Sheraton Grand Doha to identify new opportunities and ensure enhanced and memorable experiences for guests. Commenting on his new appointment, Latif said, “I am proud and excited to join the leading team of Sheraton Grand Doha Resort & Convention Hotel. I trust that with the support of the talented and professional leaders of Sheraton Grand Doha, we will continue to successfully lead this property as one of the top desirable hotels in Qatar.” A hospitality veteran, he started his career in 1999 in the world cultural capital of United Kingdom for a few years before he came back to his motherland where he took on a role as a hotel assistant manager. From 2004 until 2008, he served in operations during his time in Whistler, Canada. Moving out from Whistler in 2008, he then continued his journey over to Mauritius and Mumbai where he opened two spectacular properties before landing a Director of Rooms position in Jakarta. In 2015, he then assumed a task force hotel manager role among Istanbul, Maldives and a Gulf country in neighbour of Qatar. Latif grew up in Jordan where he studied Business Administration & Economics and holds a Master’s Degree in International Hotel & Tourism Management from Oxford Brookes University. Set by the West Bay and the sparkling blue waters of the Arabian Gulf, Sheraton Grand Doha Resort & Convention Hotel has earned its place through time as an iconic destination and established a long-lasting relationship with several generations of Qatar. Emerging from a complete renovation, the cultural symbol returns to its former glory, featuring extraordinary 1980s architecture highlighting the region’s exquisite designs, while catering to the needs of the modern social travellers.
An eclectic mix from both Karachi and Lahore in a three-day event can only be a feast. Lahore has so far played the smartest fashion week game with a consistency that remains unparalleled. This has resulted in fashion weeks springing up in Lahore with the most organised, predictable and contained structure whilst Karachi is still finding its way to shoot up through the stratosphere. Long or short hemlines? The pliable poise structured or streamlined chic? The power shoulder suiting or the gossamered evening wear? Block colour or Digital Prints? These are the questions that torment Pakistan Fashion Industry every season, but HUM Showcase 2018 gave us an answer that everything goes this season. Fashion is no longer an industry catering to the tyranny of haute monde, it has been democratised and head banging rock n’ rollers are as much a part of the mix as the genteel. There’s a lot more happening. It’s all moving so fast now, that there’s no room to shape up or ship out, so don’t pick a personality just now, you can easily play Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde. Community lists the top 7 collections that made an impact on the runway this season. Zaheer Abbas An ode to the Victorian odyssey that literally took us down the lane with frill, multi-tiered ruffled skirts, bows and fitted jackets. Edgy blocks of colour cut perfectly into coat dresses, a palette of all that is all white for Zaheer, there’s a timelessness to these pieces, especially the long coats with intricate embroidery, paired with exquisite romanticism of pastel shirts in salmon pink that are created for one simple reason to make women look like a million dollars. His collection was very wicked for the red carpet — certainly, many celebrities would be seen sporting down except few short skirts, practically unwearable off the ramp. But, as they say, the woman should wear the dress, the dress shouldn’t wear the woman. Zaheer’s play with feminine appeal to cuts and collection was the sexy opening to a fashion week one always looks forward to. Mahgul Mahgul’s debut in Karachi is one of the most impressive yet, she re-imagined the silhouettes as separates for the 21st century. To this young designer, saris, oversised tied down shirts and prints can work together well. However, that doesn’t stop her from being irreverent enough to send down a green printed sari with knotted top — and she made it work! How can one miss Mahira Khan wearing and sporting the same piece later at an event? Her collection was young and fresh and didn’t look laboured at all even though a lot of work had gone into it. It won’t be erroneous to say that Mahgul is quick witted enough with resources to come into the fashion market the big way. She knows how to play it and take it and that’s exactly what she did in Karachi this time! Rizwan Beyg A seasoned hand between style, fashion, branding and crafting platforms, Rizwan Beyg hit the nail on the head. These disciplines are about having fun with it and Day Two belonged to this designer and pioneer of Pakistan Fashion, who put a truly stunning collection with cohesive thought process, a distinctive sensibility and a fashion forwardness of his take on denim and giving it a complete revamp. His cuts and quality fabric of couture line was all about luxe! Be it a denim sari, shirts, flared pants, skirt or a waistcoat — not a stitching out place — not a whisper but a shout to Baby that’s how it’s done! Rizwan’s ensemble was something you cannot miss, having fun with fashion and fabric while keeping his collection cohesive. Munib Nawaz There are very few menswear designers in Pakistan fashion industry who truly know their craft and Munib is indeed one of them; promised and made us believe in his craft every season and showcase, one after another. Suits and short jackets by Munib have now become synonymous with clean cuts, well structured, fitted and not a stitch out of place for us and that’s only because he pays a huge amount of time in bringing about the details in every garment he produces that should sell well enough. There is no sleep for the wicked and that’s what Munib’s clothes in uniform like neutrals seems to keep in mind. Kuki Concepts Shirts, coats, printed jackets with butterflies and flowers whilst going basic in structures and cuts — a daring collection for men to wear casually with the grunge outlook mixed with luxe. Zahid Khan of Kuki Concepts has made a visible move in the brand’s approach from dolling up only Bridal wears to the chic and brash casual men lending the professional and distinctive look with the little sparkle in the right places. Although his decision to showcase was nearly last minute but he constructed the collection well. Black and Charcoal Grey with Pink T-Shirts taking over the showcase on Day-2. HSY HSY definitely leads when it comes to formal wear, but this collection was out of his comfort style. No embellishments, no complicated silhouettes and no tiredness in the structures — Musafir was a sleek, chic high street collection HSY seems to go retail with, stored and available at all his stores and online as well. Shero’s philosophy of that translates to ‘Keep it Simple for Modern Woman’ was evident in this line of feminising decidedly, masculine apparel like the muscle tee, wooden beaded neck pieces, light weight cotton wraps and belted kurtas — creating sporty looks that are quintessential feminine. A fleeting dash of ethereal punctuated otherwise jaunty solid set: creating an otherworldly vision unlike other collections that went on the ramp. Umer Sayeed Believe me they were! Umer Sayeed stayed true to his authentic, traditional craft with a mesh of contemporary and modern silhouettes in Bridals and Formal wear. His opening was all about Bridals with structure that don’t have the same run of the mill predictability of heavy gallas and worked dupattas — his intricate embroideries and punch foils. We loved the blazer! Wispy chic, utterly exotic and done with all his heart and soul is the only way to describe his collection. His glimmer gold statement sari, crop tops and maxis are now officially famous with that painstaking intricate detailing in sequins, jewels tones and timeless wedding wears. Mahira Khan’s presence for him as the showstopper was a like a cherry on top and his intricate detailed pieces an icing on a multi-layered cake!
Trade Development Authority of Pakistan (TDAP) has been burning the midnight oil to significantly increase the share of Pakistani textiles in the global market. Although the industry in Pakistan generally operates on a small and medium scale, it’s the prowess of the fashion industry as a whole — thanks to their presence at International Fashion Weeks, including Paris, London and New York, to showcase the quality fashion and apparel the country is capable of — that is contributing significantly to the overall growth. Fashion weeks are a strenuous business for anyone involved enough to be working full time. As a platform to introduce new designers and showcase the quality textile and apparel, the Trade Development Authority of Pakistan collaborated with Fashion Pakistan Karachi to host Made in Pakistan Fashion Week, featuring authentic Pakistani textiles recently. It was a showcase of many highs and lows. Community lists down the top 7 designer collections that went on the ramp representing the myriad fashion aesthetics. Deepak Perwani All that tangerine, red and yellow dominated the runway featuring short kurtis, jackets, maxis and quintessential palazzo pants — a touch too tribal. And since he believes in creating entire looks, Deepak complimented the clothes with his characteristic earrings. Although he made models sport few pieces from his previous collections but that’s the D Philosophy — a feminine exquisitely finished, retail friendly collection. Hassan Riaz He was bold and fearless on ramp — way too reckless than he usually is. Spiralled cocoons and slacks for men and knitted woolen dresses, the cutting-edge designs all in a power combination of red and black built way too well to turn the heads. Hassan is very clear about what he’s doing and it’s all about putting yourself out there and the results are always a strange mix. The Pink Tree Company Mohsin Sayeed gave a wild touch to the sophisticated Pink Tree Company this time, making it difficult to slot the collection into any one popular style. A dash of the unexpected was added to every conventional style; pleated skirts, mix of prints on the base of very fresh colours — the plum, the tangerine — a revolution of what’s allowed on the street. Amna Aqeel Amna defined the Made in Pakistan show, weaving the ethnic traditional embroideries and embellishments with modern cuts featuring vibrant mirror work on blouse, capes and cigarette pants. Her white on white collection woven in white cotton denim was chic with international appeal, an interplay of vivid colour and designs. Adnan Pardesy Adnan gave fashion what they have come to love about the designer. His collection featured sexy pieces with funky casuals built in denim and all the hues of black. Tops paired with floral tights and skirts and you’re off for a day or night. This proves that Adnan does clothes for everyone to make a statement everywhere. His draping and silhouettes were a win! Gulabo Gulabo presented a predictable line of sumptuous prints that is Maheen’s signature. It was a soldered collection channelling the prints, cuts and styles — an electrifying trailer into the variety that is available at their stores. The jump suits, pants, crop tops and jackets obtruding in the hues of green and red — her colourful set dresses spoke loudly about the ability of Gulabo and Maheen Khan to bring the best at the ramp effortlessly. From models sporting the fierce look to the bursts of flowers and prints, a collection very well defined! Maheen’s a maestro! Zainab Khalid This young girl from Pakistan Institute of Fashion and Design is going to go places; she showcased a standout collection with interesting structures featuring pants, jackets and overcoats in the hues of white, yellow and blue — full of fun! She won big time with her superb showing at the finale of Made in Pakistan – a day of millennial fashion.
Muhammad Asad Ullah was at hand to see the grand celebration of the Pakistani fashion industry at the Hum Style Awards 2017 An awards show is always the best place to view a wide range of entertainment, and the HUM Style Awards 2017 hosted by the trio of Saba Qamar, Farhan Saeed and Ali Kazmi in cosmopolitan Karachi was no exception. The Awards are here to stay thanks to the dominance of the corporate giants and Pakistan entertainment industry carving a scintillating style and fashion niche. The best of Karachi and Lahore, Pakistan’s fashion power centres, were pitched at the same platform, and the atmosphere was electric. Where the perceptive Khadija Rehman of Generation (Best Retail) takes the brand to a level of sophistication personified and top-notch quality that makes her designs worth it, it is the indomitable craftsmanship of Zaheer Abbass (Designer of the Year Demi Couture) that enables him to impose himself in the interminable list of designers existing nationwide. Fashion trends and power packed performances swarm international award shows, including Bollywood, but the Pakistan fare now has its own signature allure. One witnessed drama, spot on choreography and sizzling performances — choreographed by Ilona Bekier. The script did falter at times featuring tasteless jokes; but in hindsight, it was much calmer and level headed compared to the fare previously. It’s always the opening and closing acts that drive the endurance for an entire show ending post-midnight and Saba Qamar opened the night with a performance putting forward her brutally honest account of how to be a star in Pakistan. This she did by putting on different masks with a recap of the past year following an Urdu version of Nancy Sinatra’s classic Bang Bang. It’s commendable for Saba, who recently stole the show in her Bollywood debut Hindi Medium, to have such a handle on what she wants to do — she always creates a parallel world on-screen and an award show is always made brighter by it. Syra Yusuf and Asim Azhar shaking a leg together on Punjabi beat, and then, Ahsan Khan’s conquest of the dance floor was a lot of fun; he always knows what he’s doing and does it well. With item songs trending in the Pakistan film industry lately, Sadaf Kanwal has already made headlines with Kaif o Saroor in Na Maloom Afraad 2 and earning Most Stylish Female Model Award was a cinch. This girl can pull off anything effortlessly; she paired a plain sexy off shoulder saree with a sleek bun for the red carpet and raised the bar of red carpet looks. Where Sadaf was game for the prize, we may just have to hand the award for Most Stylish Model Male to Hasnain Lehri for all the campaigns and appearances he has been giving lately. Having said that, Salman Riaz winning the award in the male category did raise eyebrows. Meanwhile the Pakistani lawn industry is booming more than ever and every other designer coming up with a special luxe lawn collection is evidence, but Sana Safinaz has taken the lead. No-one puts an effort like the duo does in their quality, fabrics or their campaigns. Although they gave up on lawn exhibitions a while ago after traffic jams and never before witnessed stampedes at venues around Pakistan, but still long queues at their flagship stores nationwide reveals the power of the brand. There’s a sharp crescent of change in men’s wear with florid bursts of colour without compromising on one thing that menswear is truly about: cuts. Where Republic by Omer Farooq (last year’s winner) has established itself as the go-to designer for everyday and formal wear, it’s Ismail Farid that has quite a good hand for suits, doing tremendously well for the quirky elements and seeing him walk away with the trophy wasn’t surprising at all. Best Emerging Talent is the most fun category, looking out for the younger crowd and encouraging them to set a milestone, spicing up the fashion industry. This was bagged by Saheefa Jabbar, breakout star of the year – the boy cut model, who, set the ramp and billboards on fire with her sexy appeal and looks. Her bridals have been weaving their usual magic spell, not because they’re sharp but her excellent fabric. Her painstakingly intricate detailing in crystals, pearls and sequins, her lehengas have been a good bet to win. And yes, Shehla Chatoor. Bagging the award for Designer of the Year – Bridal is no surprise. The Outstanding Achievement Brand Development Award was presented to Shamoon Sultan for Khaadi. The most stylish film actor male and female awards were bagged by Osman Khalid Butt and Sanam Saeed, respectively. Ayesha Omer grabbed the statuette for the Most Stylish Actor Female – Television; Feroze Khan for the Male category; and pop star Atif Aslam the coveted Style Icon 2017. Another episode of acknowledging the fashion and entertainment industry ended on a high note with celebrities in attendance appearing on the stage together for a performance. But Mahira Khan was much missed.
On commercial airlines today, travelling in economy is a pain, while the wealthy are well looked after in first class. But for the ultrawealthy, there’s a whole other level available. For China’s “Golden Week” holiday at the beginning of October, a group of rich Asians will take off from Hong Kong on a lavishly appointed Boeing 777 for a nine-day tour with stops at luxury hotels in Nairobi, Kenya and Tahiti. The cost is $45,000 per person. On Tuesday, that 777 was handed over to Crystal Air Cruises in a ceremony at Boeing Field. It features a large cocktail-bar area, with seating for 24 guests to mix socially. To pass the time on a long flight, the tabletops in the bar can be inverted to offer video games or gaming. A typical 777-200LR airliner like this one normally carries slightly more than 300 passengers, but aft of the bar on this jet is a passenger cabin with just 88 first-class, lie-flat seats. After it was built in Boeing’s Everett factory, the plane spent two years at Moses Lake, where the customised interior – mostly white, with stone veneer and marble accents – designed by Greenpoint Technologies of Kirkland was installed under contract by a team from Aviation Technical Services, the Everett-based airplane maintenance company. Accepting delivery of the jet was Edie Rodriguez, the chief executive at Crystal Cruises. Now owned by Chinese cruise and resort holding company Genting Hong Kong, Crystal’s high-end travel offerings include ocean cruises, river cruises, yacht expeditions and now air charters. Rodriguez touted the jet as “the most luxuriously appointed aircraft in the private aircraft industry.” Guests are cosseted by a crew of 20, including a dozen mostly young women whom Rodriguez insisted on calling butlers – “not flight attendants.” Rodriguez took every opportunity to promote the Crystal name and its connotation of wealth and luxury. “It’s my great Crystal pleasure,” she declared in a brief speech accepting the airplane. She said the 777 augments Crystal’s exceptional “lifestyle and hospitality brand portfolio.” Explaining the business model behind the purchase of the luxury jet, Rodriguez said that initially Crystal intended to treat it like a cruise ship in the air, planning high-end itineraries and selling seats individually. But the company discovered that though their target market, “the top 2 percent of the world’s wealthiest,” could afford such air cruises, they are too time-strapped to slot easily into a preset schedule. So Crystal switched gears to offer the jet instead as a private charter. Rodriguez said one couple have just chartered the 777 for their anniversary, along with “one of our floating assets.” A yacht? A river-cruise boat? She declined to elaborate further, saying her clients insist upon privacy. She disclosed only that the couple’s plan is “to take their guests on a custom-curated experience around the world.” It’s also possible to just charter the plane on a private flight from city to city. Rodriguez said such a one-way flight from New York to Paris would cost $375,000, or just about $4,300 per person with all 88 seats filled. Next month, the Vancouver Canucks National Hockey League team has chartered the plane for its trip to China, where the team plays the L.A. Kings in a couple of preseason exhibition games in Shanghai and Beijing. “The world is getting wealthier by the minute,” Rodriguez said, citing data that China has “more than a million millionaires and more than 400 billionaires.” And, boosting the private charter model, “a lot of the wealthy like to travel with, in quotes, people like them,” she said. Crystal Air bought a 787 Dreamliner as well as the 777. But it decided that the smaller plane doesn’t suit its needs and is trying to sell it. So what’s the likelihood of further Boeing orders later, perhaps a second 777? Rodriguez said demand is already strong for Crystal Air. “I’m a bullish, betting woman,” said Rodriguez. “I’d say, most likely yes.” The plane will be operated for Crystal by Comlux, a private air-charter company with operating certificates from Malta, Aruba and Kazakhstan. The 777 will be based in Victorville, Calif., when in North America; in Malta when it’s in Europe; and in various bases in Asia. The crew has been gathered mostly from the world’s high-end airlines. One Austrian pilot previously flew 777s for Emirates. The South African executive chef was poached from Etihad. But at least one flight attendant – or butler – has seriously elevated her career. American Priscilla Martinez came to Crystal from Spirit Airlines, the Florida-based ultra-low-cost carrier that offers absolutely no frills and provides the most frugal flying experience in North America. Martinez said she loves flying and appreciated her start at Spirit but is happy now to add a “customer service” dimension to her job. Crystal’s operation is customer service at a level Spirit passengers may barely imagine. – TNS