Art Jameel and the V&A Museum Announce Artists Shortlisted for Jameel Prize 5

The Victoria & Albert Museum (V&A), in partnership with Art Jameel, has announced the shortlist for the Jameel Prize 5, the international prize for contemporary artists and designers.

Eight finalists have been shortlisted for the £25,000 (AED 128,000) prize, inspired by Islamic tradition, which is awarded every two years. They are: Kamrooz Aram, Hayv Kahraman, Hala Kaiksow, Mehdi Moutashar, naqsh collective, Younes Rahmoun, Wardha Shabbir and Marina Tabassum.

The winner will be announced on 27 June 2018, at the V&A, London.

The fifth edition of the Jameel Prize will debut at the V&A, London, where the winner will be announced on 27 June 2018. The accompanying exhibition, showcasing the work of the eight shortlisted artists and designers, will run from 28 June until 25 November 2018. The exhibition will then tour to museums globally, including to the Jameel Arts Centre, in Dubai, in 2019.

The shortlist is diverse and for the first time features an architect. Other practices represented in the shortlist include painting andfashion design, while sources of inspiration range from embroidered shawls to Arabic calligraphy. Multi-media installations evoke the symbolism of light and challenge Western approaches to art history. This great variety reflects the richness of Islamic tradition as a source for contemporary creativity, highlighting the influence of our shared cultural past on contemporary artistic views of the world.

The panel of judges, chaired by V&A Director, Tristram Hunt, selected the shortlist. He said: “The Jameel Prize  continues to gain momentum. This – the fifth edition of the Prize – has attracted nearly 400 nominations from around the world, and for the first time, the shortlist features work from Bangladesh, Bahrain and Jordan. This year’s outstanding shortlist displays real diversity; the judges found beauty, spirituality, complexity, humour and
humanity.

The V&A is delighted to continue its partnership with Art Jameel in recognition of the extraordinary contemporary artists and designers inspired by Islamic tradition.”

One of the judges, Salah Hassan, Professor and Director, Institute for Comparative Modernities at Cornell University, New York, and a regular contributor to Sharjah Art Foundation’s exhibition programme, commented: “The shortlisted artists for Jameel Prize 5 represent an array of amazing talents, who are engaged in diverse practices in art and design, that are conceptually-oriented and in sync with latest discourse of contemporary art, yet rooted in discrete ways to their own cultures and multiple identities. Jameel Prize 5 expands our horizons of what modernity and contemporaneity truly mean, and enriches our understanding of a truly globalised art world beyond its current confines.”

The judging panel also includes the independent design historian Tanya Harrod; November Paynter, who is Director of Programs at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Toronto; and the artist Ghulam Mohammad, who was the winner of Jameel Prize 4.

Atlantida Boutique Hotel the luxxrs Review

Atlantida

This luxury Atlantida Boutique hotel takes its name from the mythological island of Atlantis, which was famous for its supposed advanced civilisations and culture. In the mythical city of Atlantis they were well aware of the fragility of the human body, so one of the first dedicated spaces was intended for healing. In their treatments and wellness, they used healing plants, herbs, crystals, aromatherapy and massage. An important part was played in this by water, whose properties cleanse the spirit and body.

Atlantida

Here in the wonderful, natural environment of Rogaska Slatina in Slovenia which is famous for its mineral waters, it has re-emerged as a modern island boasting new experiences from the mythical Atlantis. The Wellness and Spa centre is aimed at bringing you back to basics where you can re-establish the balance of mind, body and spirit.  A heated indoor pool, whirlpool, areas for rest and an outside terrace in a natural setting are just some of the pampering on offer.

Atlantida

A few minutes’ walk from the hotel is the Rogaška Medical Health Centre and offers several preventive and other health programmes: gastroenterology, cardiology, internal medicine, dermatology, urology, orthopaedics, physical and rehabilitation medicine, aesthetic plastic surgery, vascular surgery, nutrition, physiotherapy.

Atlantida

Being the only luxury hotel of its kind in this area, its aim is to fully satisfy its guests with its exceptional accommodation and service in the hotel and its surrounding. The hotel is intended for those wishing to withdraw from everyday stress and those inspired by outstanding hotel architecture with the highest level of prestige and guaranteeing complete privacy

Atlantida

This quiet town is just over an hour’s drive from the Slovenian capital Ljubljana (and its airport), and a few hours’ drive from Vienna, Salzburg, Budapest, Trieste, Venice, Zagreb, Belgrade and other European cities, allowing for day trips.

Get more info and Details here: atlantida-rogaska.si

Review: Gernot Mueller

In search of argan oil in Morocco

I’m perched on a low stool, legs splayed unceremoniously apart to accommodate a squat stone grinder which I’ve been turning for a good five minutes. My initial enthusiasm is rapidly fading – the treacly argan oil paste I’m pressing may as well be molasses at the excruciatingly slow rate it drips into a waiting jar. My only consolation is that I’ve proved somewhat entertaining for the row of Berber grandmothers now openly chuckling at my exertions. “Ffffhoooff,” one exclaims, sympathetically miming the wiping of sweat from her brow as she urges me to surrender and cease my labours.

I’m probably one in a long line of foreign visitors who’ve tried (and failed at) extracting argan oil the traditional way at Co-operative Feminine Tilila in Essaouira, one of over 12,000 women-run co-operatives dotted throughout southwest Morocco. In a large stone room, which remains cool and airy despite the scorching heat outside, a row of women line the walls, engaged in different stages of the oil extraction process.

This begins with baskets of wrinkled, purplish-brown dried argan fruit, which fall naturally from trees in late summer. The rind and pulp are removed, revealing an extremely hard nut, which has to be manually cracked open by hand, typically by knocking it against a rock. This in turn yields one to three precious light-brown kernels, which are then pressed in specially designed machines to yield oil for cosmetic use, or roasted for culinary purposes. Nothing is wasted. The leaves and pulp are fed to livestock, husks are burned for fuel. It is – as I learned – tiring, repetitive work: It takes 30kg of fruit and 15 hours of labour to make 1 litre of oil. According to UNESCO (which in 1998 named the country’s argan forest a UNESCO biosphere reserve), argan oil retails for up to US$300 (S$410) per litre, making it the world’s most expensive edible oil.

The stratospheric price tags of the oil are a relatively recent phenomenon, thanks to a surge in popularity. “When we started (the co- operatives), it was only US$3 per litre,” says Zoubida Charrouf, a lecturer at Mohammed V University in Rabat and argan tree expert who’s widely credited for introducing the co-operative system.

Argan nut husks

Edible oil pressed from the nuts commands high prices – the world’s highest for an edible oil. Photo credit: Alamy

Like most “miracle discoveries” in modern beauty, the unique benefits of argan oil have been known to locals for centuries. A powerhouse loaded with antioxidants, essential fatty acids and vitamin E, argan oil has been used by Moroccans to stave off and treat a wide encyclopedia of maladies, from the trifling to the serious, ranging from wrinkles and acne to joint pain and even heart disease.

“One of my earliest childhood memories involves argan oil,” says Habiba Raffa, the Singapore-based Moroccan founder of Ayelli, a hair and skincare brand based on pure argan oil. Raffa remembers going to Agadir when she was three to visit her grandmother, who showed her exasperated mother how to use pure argan oil “to maintain the tightness, define the curls and tame the frizz” of her daughter’s unruly hair. Like most other Moroccan families, Raffa also recalls using the oil on a daily basis, in food and for “overall repair”.

“We used it to heal acne and chickenpox scars, after-sun exposure and for many other problems, long before it was clinically proven to reduce hyperpigmentation and to regulate sebum production,” she adds.

Argan oil is also used in that most quintessential of Moroccan wellness rituals, the hammam. “There, argan oil is even more special – it gives you the power to slow down, connect and pamper yourself,” says Raffa.

Today, argan oil can be found in shampoos, moisturisers, serums and body scrubs. Its gourmet cousin, oil made from roasted kernels, has become highly sought after by some of the world’s top restaurants. Golden-hued, distinctively nutty and remarkably aromatic, it enjoys star turns in Pierre Gagnaire in Paris, the Ivy in London and at Restaurant Zen in Singapore (where it tops a disc of shiso-flower bedecked caviar). For simpler pleasures, however, I think it’s best enjoyed in the form of amlou, or what Moroccans call “Berber nutella” – pulverised roasted almonds spun into a fragrant, velvety paste with the addition of argan oil and honey.

All this richness and flavour, ironically, are born from spectacularly harsh terrain. boom, an estimated 600 hectares were lost each year in the 1970s and 1980s, due to overgrazing and deforestation. Post-boom, farmers are planting, rather than felling trees, and the Moroccan government has pledged to plant another 200,000 hectares of argan forest by 2020. An unlikely player in the oil’s fates is the humble goat, which you’ll see actually up in argan trees during the two-and-a-half-hour drive from Marrakesh to Essaouira. The animals routinely clamber up On the label Ingredients should list 100 percent pure argania spinosa. USDA, Ecocert, and Agriculture Biologique certifications mean the oil was grown and produced without synthetic ingredients or pesticides. The best argan oil comes from Morocco. packaging The oil should come in dark bottles made of premium quality glass. Light breaks down the natural properties of argan oil. Choose cold-pressed Premium cold-pressed argan oil lasts 18 to 24 months. Pressing by hand is an old technique that doesn’t conform to international quality control standards and is considered by many to be unhygienic. Argan trees (argania spinosa) are gnarled, spreading plants of about 8 to 10m, with tiny leaves and intimidatingly thorny branches. They can live for up to 200 years and take 50 years to bear fruit. They’re tough yet pernickety, growing mainly in a swath stretching from Essaouira to Taroudant. “It’s special here,” says Co-operative Feminine Tilila’s manager Abdullah Essakhi, citing the area’s unique terroir of calcareous soils and oceanic breezes. “Some Israelis tried to grow argan trees in Israel – the trees grew, but there was no fruit.”

Argan oil Argan tree goats

The curious sight of goats all over an argan tree. The animals love nibbling on the fruits and leaves of the trees. Photo credit: Alamy

According to Charrouf, argan trees play a vital role in the region’s ecosystem, serving as “a green curtain”, or “the last wall before the desert starts,” with roots that thrust deep underground, bringing precious water up to surrounding plants and protecting the soil from erosion and desertification.

Argania spinosa’s fortunes rise and fall in tandem with commercial ones – pre-argan boom, an estimated 600 hectares were lost each year in the 1970s and 1980s, due to overgrazing and deforestation. Post-boom, farmers are planting, rather than felling trees, and the Moroccan government has pledged to plant another 200,000 hectares of argan forest by 2020. An unlikely player in the oil’s fates is the humble goat, which you’ll see actually up in argan trees during the two-and-a-half-hour drive from Marrakesh to Essaouira. The animals routinely clamber up the trees to nibble on their fruits and leaves, and previously locals would harvest argan nuts from the goats’ droppings, similar to how kopi luwak involves coffee cherries retrieved from civet cat waste. Luckily, this practice has fallen out of favour, with goats now considered a threat as they damage trees, a problem exacerbated by newly-wealthy argan farmers buying even more goats.

More critically, argan oil has transformed the fortunes of Moroccan women here, a traditionally marginalised group disadvantaged by patriarchy’s hegemony. When Charrouf started work on the co-operatives, 95 percent of the women in the area were illiterate and marginalised.

“Berber women typically don’t go outside the house. But we’ve organised them as producers into co-operatives – training them to use new technology, run the co-operatives in terms of administration, management, marketing, all aspects,” Charrouf shared at a 2014 innovation conference.

Apart from increasing literacy, the co-operatives have given local women agency, fair wages and business skills, with a fortunate few travelling abroad to meet big beauty brands like L’Oreal. According to Essakhi, the women at Co-operative Feminine Tilila earn on average 2,550 Moroccan dirhams ($354) per month, with additional bonuses paid out at each year’s end. Unlike in the past, most families now send their daughters to school. Much more can be done to positively impact the next generation, says Raffa, who observes men still occupy top roles as managers and co-operative presidents.

“My wish is to see more local women working beyond the manual process, to see them in managerial positions, in charge of argan production, international export relationships and innovative sustainability practices,” says Raffa. “When women benefit, children benefit.

Art Dubai Announces the Full Programme for the 12th Edition of the Global Art Forum

Art Dubai has announced the full programme for the 12th edition of the Global Art Forum, taking place in two sessions in February and March this year. Entitled ‘I Am Not A Robot’, the current edition of the Forum will explore the highly topical theme of automation – as well as the opportunities and trepidations brought along with it.

Part of Art Dubai’s extensive cultural programming, the Global Art Forum is an annual arts conference – the largest in the Middle East, North Africa and South Asia – and unique in that it examines culture from a variety of disciplines as well as in bringing together leading minds from a variety of fields to discuss a specific topic. Both sessions of the Global Art Forum are open to the public and free to attend.

The opening session of the Global Art Forum 2018 will take place on Wednesday, February 14, 2018 at Dubai Design District, introducing some of the key themes of ‘I Am Not A Robot’, in a series of talks, presentations and discussions with Shumon Basar, Noah Raford, Marlies Wirth and acclaimed artist/writer James Bridle, who Buzzfeed ranked 3rd in its list of “11 Tech Heroes of 2017 who aren’t CEOs”.

The Forum will continue at Art Dubai from Wednesday, March 21 – Friday, March 23, 2018 for its acclaimed three-day marathon, exploring the impacts of automation, Artificial Intelligence and machine learning in work, creativity, design, economics, politics and art. Some of the pressing questions posed are: “Is there a Non-Western model of AI?”, “Will the blockchain build a new Internet?”, “What makes us human in an increasingly non-human world?”, and “What are machines saying about us behind our backs?” In addition to lectures, conversations and discussions, there will be performances and a rich cinema-screening programme by Cinema Akil.

The 2018 iteration of the Global Art Forum is organized by Commissioner Shumon Basar, with with Chief Operating Officer and Futurist-in-Chief of the Dubai Future Foundation Noah Raford, and Curator of Digital Culture & Design Collection at the MAK, Vienna, Marlies Wirth, as Co-Directors.

Art Dubai’s Global Art Forum is presented by the Dubai Culture and Arts Authority (Dubai Culture) and supported by Dubai Design District (d3).

GLOBAL ART FORUM 12: FULL PROGRAMME

Wednesday 14 February | Dubai Design District, between Building 8 and 9

6:30-6:40pm | WELCOME AND INTRODUCTION

By Global Art Forum Commissioner Shumon Basar and Co-Directors Noah Raford and Marlies Wirth

6:40-6:50pm | I AM SHE: SOME FEMALE AUTOMATA FROM CINEMA PRESENTATION

Shumon Basar

Cinema — that 20th century mass art form — provides one of the most fertile settings for history’s enduring experiments with man-made women. Shumon Basar outlines a brief genealogy and draws upon examples from the films Metropolis, Alphaville, Blade Runner (and its recent sequel Blade Runner 2049), Ex Machina and a few Scarlett Johansson-led titles. What are the cultural and psychological values invested in cinema’s female robots? And why are men so scared?

6:50-7:00pm | I AM AI DIPLOMAT: ALIEN PROTOCOLS AND INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS OF THE MIND POLEMIC

Noah Raford

According to some, we are within a decade of the arrival of artificial general intelligence; machines so powerful that they can do anything a human being can, but faster, better, and more accurately. How will we handle the arrival of such a phenomena? How might this impact our world and what ways should we be thinking about possible responses? This whimsical talk explores serious issues through the lens of aliens, international relations, and medieval diplomacy to help us better understand the landscape we may face in the future.

7:00-7:15pm | ARE WE ARTIFICIAL: TWO RECENT EXHIBITION LECTURE

Marlies Wirth

Hello Robot and Artificial Tears were two recent exhibitions in Vienna, which dealt with the complex issues around automatization. Hello Robot looked at how design shapes our relationship with technology and with each other. Artificial Tears took a science-fiction position: asking what makes us “human” in this day and age, or if we are “artificial” after all. Co-curator Marlies Wirth talks us through both shows, and how these kinds of technologies are increasingly entering museum space in unexpected ways.

7:15-8:00pm | I AM A HUMAN ARTIST PRESENTATION AND DISCUSSION

Artist and Writer James Bridle, hosted by Shumon Basar, Noah Raford and Marlies Wirth

How are artists engaging with technologies of automation, as well as the ever increasing automation of the world? With a background in linguistics and Artificial Intelligence, the artist James Bridle has dealt with predictive big data, drones, and the ethical problems posed by YouTube. Here, he discusses his ideas and work, and the social and political concerns facing the current moment.

Wednesday 21 March | Art Dubai, Madinat Jumeirah, Fort Island

2:00-2:15pm | WELCOME AND INTRODUCTION

Shumon Basar with Noah Raford and Marlies Wirth

2:15-2:45pm | I AM AI LECTURE

Media Theorist Paul Feigelfeld

What are the apocryphal histories of computing, and artificial/machine intelligence? Its obscure layers and lairs? The cryptic and alien languages it speaks? And the images it imagines but we cannot see? In this lecture, we’ll look for the Cloud at the bottom of the oceans and for platforms in the skies. We’ll travel the land of the blind and go mind jogging in China.    

2:45-3:45pm | I AM NOT WESTERN AI: ANIMALS, ALIENS, AND ALTERNATE PHILOSOPHIES OF MIN DISCUSSION

Assistant Professor, Academy of Media Arts Cologne Mi You, National Technology Officer Microsoft China Ltd. Qing Wei, Professor, Department of Philosophy, Autonomous University of Barcelona Jordi Vallverdú, hosted by Noah Raford

How do intelligence, cognition, and concepts of the self vary across cultures (and species)? How might this influence the development of AI? From robot monks in Japan that hold perpetual prayers, to octopus consciousness and multi-bodied minds, the creation of perceiving machines will reflect deeply on our sense of self, and indeed, life itself.

3:45-4:15pm | AM I STILL EMPLOYED: JOBS, JOYS, AND WHAT DO YOU DO

LECTURE AND CONVERSATION

Writer Mishaal Al Gergawi with Head of Research, Dubai Future Foundation Jessica Bland

Work titles are our insignia, our shared points of societal reference. How will the “unnecessary rest” begin to define themselves if the rich eventually fund basic income? Communism tried to eliminate economic hierarchy only to replace it with a power-based hierarchy. What will artificial intelligence replace the social order of work with? VR-for-life may not be enough. Do Gulf States have a head start?

4:30-5:00pm | I AM AWESOME, ANNOYING AND AWFUL: AI IN EVERYDAY LIFE, 2050 CONVERSATION

Product and Interaction Designer Simone Rebaudengo with Noah Raford

AI will take many forms in the future, from self-selling disposable goods to terrifying, continent-wide minds that shape entire industries. How will these minds interact with our everyday goods and experiences? Will it be awesome, annoying, or awful? A pantheon of negotiation, a paradise of domination, or a compound of complication?

5:00-5:30pm | I AM A HYPERSTITION LECTURE

Artist, Writer and Trend Forecaster Emily Segal

“Hyperstition” was a term coined in the 1990s to describe fictions that make themselves true – a form of automation in their own right. This lecture presents new research from the think-tank Nemesis that recasts the concept of Hyperstition in the contemporary moment, mapping the architecture of hype and its vectors of development.

5:30-6:30pm | I AM A HUMAN ARTIST: PART 1 DISCUSSION

Artists Rokni, Ramin Haerizadeh & Hesam Rahmanian, Yuri Pattison and Ania Soliman, hosted by Writer Melissa Gronlund

How are artists engaging with technologies of automation, as well as the ever increasing automation of the world? What new kinds of aesthetics, experiences and knowledge emerge? From interactive puppetry to robot choreography via the unconscious intent of algorithms, these artists discuss their ideas and work, and the complex concerns facing the current moment.

Thursday, March 22 | Art Dubai, Madinat Jumeirah, Fort Island

2:00-2:15pm | WELCOME AND INTRODUCTION

Shumon Basar with Noah Raford and Marlies Wirth

2:15-3:15pm | I AM A HUMAN ARTIST: PART 2 DISCUSSION

Artist and ‘Private Ear’ Lawrence Abu Hamdan with Artists Katja Novitskova and Pamela Rosenkranz, hosted by CTO Serpentine Galleries London and Initiator unMonastery Ben Vickers

How are artists engaging with technologies of automation, as well as the ever increasing automation of the world? What new kinds of aesthetics, experiences and knowledge emerge? From aural surveillance to neuropharmacology via the sculptural qualities of Internet images, these artists discuss their ideas and work, and the accelerated textures of the present moment.

3:15-3:45pm | IS IT DJINN: GHOSTS, MACHINES, MUSIC CONVERSATION

Music Producer and Artist Fatima Al Qadiri and Shumon Basar

Long before Artificial Intelligence arrived, technology has often been framed as a supernatural force. There are maybe more “ghosts in the machine” now than there are human beings in the world. Fatima Al Qadiri’s work, too, is haunted by many things. A Kuwaiti childhood during the first Gulf War shaped a sonic sensibility, which in turn has produced music redolent of war video games and a spirit world. She discusses the links between sound and memory, djinn and the digital.

3:45-4:45pm | I AM HUMAN: CAN YOU PROVE IT? DISCUSSION

Artist and Architect Alessandro Bava with Designer Simone Niquille and Artist and Writer Patricia Reed, hosted by Marlies Wirth

Supranational structures (Google, Amazon, Alibaba) preside over our knowledge and technology. They cunningly manipulate the masses with the use of self-learning algorithms and streamlined filter bubbles. But should our major societal decisions be given over to what Hito Steyerl has described as “Artificial Stupidity”? As we increasingly inhabit responsive environments that attempt to predict our wishes and desires before we even have them, this discussion identifies the shifts in personal and political dynamics, and the role of human agency in a non-human world.

4:45-5:00pm | REPORT FROM THE SERPENTINE MARATHON 2017 PRESENTATION

Artistic Director Serpentine Galleries London Hans Ulrich Obrist and Ben Vickers

The 2017 Marathon, entitled “Guest, Ghost, Host: Machine!,” brought together artists, scientists, activists, engineers, poets, sociologists, philosophers, filmmakers, writers, anthropologists, theologians and musicians to consider the advent of “artificial intelligence,” consciousness, interspecies cooperation, trans-humanism and non-linear time. The Marathon sought to illuminate the ways in which these fields of exploration leave unrecognizable traces and unknowable apparitions in the present.

5:00-6:00pm | I AM DISTRIBUTED: AT THE FRONTEIRS OF THE BLOCKCHAIN DISCUSSION

Theorist Jaya Klara Brekke with Architect and Musician Martti Kalliala, hosted by Hans Ulrich Obrist and Ben Vickers

The blockchain is a database validated by a global community and backed by code/math, rather than a central authority. Many claims are made for it: from introducing a new, better Internet to disempowering centralized banks. But what does the geography of the blockchain look like? What are its politics? And what is a “Decentralized Autonomous Rave Scene?” This discussion explores the still-emerging philosophy and technology of the blockchain and the kind of world it might bring about.

6:00-6:30pm | I AM/NOT A ROBOT PERFORMANCE

Artist and Dancer Isabel Lewis and Artist Asad Raza

A playful encounter between crafters of live experience Isabel Lewis and Asad Raza using voice, text, electronic music and vocal processing. Following their open workshop earlier in the day, Raza and Lewis will address the particular agency we could and do have in our current condition as real cyborgs.

Friday 23 March | Art Dubai, Madinat Jumeirah, Fort Island

2:00-2:05pm | WELCOME AND INTRODUCTION

Shumon Basar with Noah Raford and Marlies Wirth

2:05-2:45pm | AM I A SAD ROBOT: THE CLINIC OF AI LECTURE

Philosopher and Writer Aaron Schuster

Why are AI’s typically portrayed in popular culture as murderous/psychotic, bent on wiping out the human race? Wouldn’t intelligent machines run the full range of human psychopathologies? Think of Marvin, the melancholic robot from The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. Isn’t it more likely that a hyper intelligent AI would become depressed, not aggressive? Perhaps in the future, the main role of human beings will be to minister therapeutically to depressed AIs, whose melancholic bouts threaten civilization with digital malaise and total breakdown. In this lecture, Schuster explores the “clinic of AI:” the psychopathologies of our machine intelligent future.

3:00-6:00pm | CINEMA AKIL PRESENTS “CONSIDER THE ROBOT & ‘OTHER’ STATES OF FUTURENESS” SCREENINGS AND Q&A

Cinema Akil presents a filmic framework of intersectional imagination. Sci-fi short mockumentary Last Days of the Man of Tomorrow (2017) takes a look at Lebanon’s history through the life and legend of Manivelle, an automaton gifted to the nation in 1945, making it the country’s first AI citizen. In Wanuri Kahui’s sci-fi drama Pumzi (2009), a post-apocalyptic future East Africa is visited, 35 years after World War III. Together, the two sci-fi shorts will unthink Eurocentric depictions of imminent automation. A conversation between Pumzi Director Wanuri Kahui and writer/curator Özge Calafato explores these themes deeper.

Cinema Akil at GAF12 will close with the Middle East premiere of the documentary Free Lunch Society (2017).

Jaguar introduces F-Pace SVR with 550 horsepower and 176mph top speed

At the Geneva Motor Show last month, Jaguar’s focus was on electric cars as the British automaker launched its very first all-electric, zero emissions car I-Pace. However, it seems the marque hasn’t given up on its petrolhead fans just yet. At the New York Auto Show, Jaguar has launched the high-performance version of its F-Pace SUV, which according to the claimed performance figures is one of the fastest SUVs in the world. Called the F-Pace SVR, the sporty SUV is the work of the carmaker’s Special Vehicle Operations (SVO) department, which has worked its magic on the brand’s best selling vehicle to turn it into an absolute monster.

Powering the Jaguar F-Pace is a 5.0-liter supercharged V8 engine that churns out 550 horses and 502 lb-ft of torque. Jaguar claims that the performance-oriented SUV can go from 0-60mph in just 4.1 seconds and hit a top speed of 176mph. to support the added power, SVO has made quite a few changes to the F-Pace that include an ungraded chassis, progressive springs that are 30-percent stiffer at the front and 10-percent at the back, new anti-roll system – that Jaguar says cuts body-roll by 5-percent, and new lightweight forced 21- and 22-inch alloy wheels. Jaguar has also added Variable Valve Active Exhaust System inspired by the F-TYPE, which should make it sound great, as well.

On the inside, the cabin features slimline performance front seats with SVR logos on the headrest and a SVR branded steering wheel with paddle shifters. Four color schemes will be on offer: Red with Jet, Light Oyster with Jet, Siena Tan with Jet, and Jet with Light Oyster stitching. The high-performance variant of the F-Pace will arrive in US dealerships in the summer of 2018, with a mouth-watering starting price of $79,990.

By: Gigi Morelli

Four Seasons Hotel Megève launches Helicopter Ski Safaris to give guests the ultimate luxury skiing experience

Have you ever visited a ski resort and wished you could see some of the other nearby slopes while you’re there? After all, if you go to the trouble of packing your attire and assembling your gear, it only makes sense that you make the most of your mountaintop experience.

Until recently, this idealistic concept was simply a pipe dream. Now, France’s Four Seasons Hotel Megève is changing the game.

Starting December 15, 2018, guests can take part in luxurious Helicopter Ski Safaris that allow them access not only to the gorgeous slopes that frame the new resort, but also to nearby ones at the Chamonix, Courchevel and Val d’Isère resorts among others.

The result? An all-inclusive tour of the Alps from the vantage point of a soaring eagle high above the summits.

While this is an incredible package deal, it’s far from standardized. Rather, staff at the Megève’s Ski Concierge will tailor the trip every day according to the weather and snow conditions, so guests are always guaranteed a safe, exciting and rewarding skiing experience.

As you glide above Mont Blanc and its neighboring pikes, be sure to bring your camera along. The views are nothing short of breathtaking, even if you’re more comfortable on the bunny slope than a black diamond.

Rates for the Ski Safari begin at EUR 1,310 per night, which equates to around $1,500 USD, for two guests staying in a Megève Deluxe Room. If you book a weeklong trip, you’ll get the privilege of going on three helicopter excursions. Five nights gets you two trips, and three-night visitors are treated to one.

Flying not your thing? No problem.

You can convert the value of the helicopter journey into an equally invigorating adventure on the ground. From dog-sled rides to snowshoeing, you’ll have your pick from multiple exhilarating treks, all of which allow you to see the same terrain as your thrill-seeking buddies high above you. As a sweet trade-off, you’ll even get to enjoy a picnic lunch in a top-scale mountain refuge to refuel before you hit the slopes.

So what are you waiting for? Book your package today and set forth on one of the most luxurious skiing adventures in the world.

You can choose from the Mont Blanc Ski Safari, which centers on 15-minute rides to Chamonix, Flaine or Courmayeur resorts; or the slightly longer Alpine Ski Safari flight, which takes visitors on a 30-minute trip to Val d’Isère, Courchevel, Méribel or Val Thorens.

Available until April 15, 2019, there’s not much time left to pack in this trip of a lifetime. Make your reservation today and take your love of skiing to new heights!

We Take a Look at the Excellent English Wines from Danebury Vineyard

Valentine’s Day may be over, but there are 364 other days’ worth celebrating with Danebury Vineyard’s quality English wines.

Limited production with exceptional quality, that’s the focus of family-owned boutique vineyard Danebury Vineyard. Based near Stockbridge in Hampshire, the highly regarded vineyard estate covers some seven acres – land that was once a successful racehorse yard. The racing heritage is now reflected in the company’s wine labels. And it named its sparkling white wine after Cossack, a racehorse trained at Danebury that won The Derby in 1847.


Vine growing at Danebury Vineyard in Hampshire

Danebury has been producing quality English sparkling and still wines since 1988 and follows organic principles in its wine-making. The UK’s long summer days allow for maximum ripening of its cool climate grapes, ensuring strong fruit flavours. While the chalk and flint soil lends the wine its mineralogy.
Danebury produces two varietal white wines: Schönburger and Madeline Angevine, and a Reserve Wine that’s a blend of the four varieties grown at Danebury. The vineyard’s sparkling offering is the premium vintage Cossack – an award-winning white wine made from Auxerrois Blanc and Ruländer grape varieties that will be released in Spring this year.


Grapes grown at Danebury Vineyard in Hampshire

Danebury’s expert winemaker, Vince Gower has been producing quality English wine for over 20 years and has won dozens of national and international awards. His careful approach entails minimal intervention, with the pressing, fermentation, transferring and filtering process carried out with the utmost care, ensuring the delicate nature of the juice is preserved and the character ‘terroir’ of Danebury Vineyard is fully expressed in the finished wine.


Danebury Wine Collection

Danebury Madeleine Angevine 2014 – Still Dry White Wine

Medals – Bronze: Decanter Magazine, UK Wine Awards. Commended: International Wine Challenge, Sommelier Wine Awards.

Madeleine Angevine is a white wine grape from the Loire Valley – a popular choice for UK winegrowers. It has the advantage of being early ripening and grows well in cooler climates. Madeleine Angevine makes an attractive fruity, yet dry wine with a flowery nose similar to Alsatian Pinot Blanc and refreshing finish. It’s the perfect aperitif and pairs well with chicken, seafood such as scallops and crayfish or charcuterie and pâtés.
Alcohol: 11.5% Suitable for vegetarians

Danebury Schönburger 2014 — Still Dry White Wine

Medals 2017 – Bronze: Sommelier Wine Awards

Schönburger is a relatively unknown German grape variety with a slightly red skin when it ripens, a hybrid of Pinot Noir, Chasselas and Muscat Hamburg, popularly grown in England. It is quickly pressed with no skin contact to produce a silky, aromatic, dry white wine. It has a rich, full soft palate exhibiting a refreshing, clean finish, making it an excellent accompaniment to fish, chicken and vegetable sauce-based dishes.
Alc %. 10.0. Suitable for vegetarians

Danebury Reserve 2015 – Still Dry White Wine

Medals 2017 – Silver: Sommelier Wine Awards, Bronze: Decanter, IWSC

A full dry white wine, which is a skilful blend of all our grape varieties (Schönburger, Madeleine Angevine, Auxerrois Blanc and Ruländer [Pinot Gris]). Displaying a complex combination of the fruitiness of Madeleine Angevine, the crisp acidity of Schönburger, structure of the Auxerrois, complemented by the subtle in influence of Ruländer, and delivering plenty of mineralogy on the finish. It works well with a variety of dishes due to its complex flavour and crisp acidity: a taste of Hampshire in a glass.
Alcohol: 12%. Suitable for vegetarians

Danebury “Cossack” 2014 — English Sparkling Wine

Made from a blend of 95% Auxerrois Blanc (a cross between Gouais Blanc and Pinot Noir sharing the ancestry of Chardonnay) and 5% Ruländer grapes (a German synonym for Pinot Gris). Cossack is crafted using the traditional bottle fermentation method and aged for approximately four years on its lees. A classically structured wine that lasts on the palate, Cossack is equally delightful to drink either on its own or with food.

To be released in Spring 2018


Grape vines growing at Danebury Vineyard in Hampshire

Danebury Vineyards — Where and How
Danebury House, Stockbridge, Hants, 8020 6JX
Tel: +44 1264 781851
Email: info@danebury.com

danebury.com

Visit and Text: Gigi Morelli

AIGNER Announces its First Regional Collaboration with Ascia Al Faraj

AIGNER is pleased to announce its first collaboration in the Middle East with the famous American-Kuwaiti influencer, Ascia Al Faraj who is designing a Limited Edition AIGNER bag together with Creative Director Christian Alexander Beck aptly titled, the Ascia Bag.

The international blogger has brought her own personal style to the collection – choosing the colour, style and pattern. The new bag will be based on the classic Genoveva design from AIGNER’s main collection, which has proven to be a very successful design in the region. A vintage clip lock-shaped bag, which represents the AIGNER logo, the Genoveva is synonymous with the brand and its craftsmanship.

The eye-catching #Asciabag truly represents Ascia’s unique character, which is both chic and statement-making, the #Asciabag will feature a marble print effect on smooth grain leather. Gracing a metal handle with AIGNER statement bolts, this versatile bag will come with an extra pendant with bolts and cabochons. The rear side of the pendant and inside of the bag will be embossed with “Ascia exclusively for AIGNER” inscribed in rosé-gold.

One of the region’s most popular fashion bloggers, with over 2 million followers on Instagram, the turban wearing style icon pioneered the personal style blog wave in the region and has since garnered a reputation for being one of the most influential fashion voices in the region. With a candid style that resonates with AIGNER & Christian Beck’s creative spirit, Ascia is the perfect fit for this collaboration.

For almost 50 years, the luxury brand has been focussing on handmade craftsmanship, attention to detail and sophisticated design. AIGNER workmanship is a statement of classic artistry, which also proves that change and tradition are not mutually exclusive. Each bag creation tells the story of its origin and unifies contrasts into one cohesive design: modern technology and styles are combined with tried and tested expertise.

The Limited Edition #Asciabag will be available from mid-January 2018 across all AIGNER Shops in UAE for AED 3425.

French chocolate is the Food of Love All Year Round – Not Just at Valentine’s Day

February 14th is here – and for most lovers of all things chocolate – a gift of ‘the best chocolate in the world’ is the only gift worth giving this Valentine’s Day.

Or indeed, for any special occasion. Based in Forcalquier in the Haute Provence region of France, zChocolat once again demonstrates why the French reign supreme on matters of the heart. Featuring a divine assortment of 10 specially crafted chocolates, the 2018 Valentine’s Day Collections includes the most requested recipes from Master Chocolatier Pascal Caffet with special love-inspired extras.

This year’s special edition packaging features either an ornate key design or an embellished heart design. The collection has also incorporated a dramatic nod to love’s foremost flower. Delicate rose petals are hidden beneath the lid of each box add instant romance and drama to each delivery. Like every zChocolat product, items from the Valentine’s Collection can be additionally customised with a personalised message, the recipient’s name engraved on the package, or even a heart-shaped padlock with an individually selected combination.

Of course, it’s the chocolates that steal the show. All-natural ingredients, exotic single-origin cocoas, and an absence of preservatives ensure premium flavours, while zChocolat’s innovative recipes make each product an unforgettable melt-in-your-mouth experience.

Particularly noteworthy are standout gifts such as lavish gold-covered chocolates, an impressive half-pound heart-shaped hazelnut praline, and elegantly coloured chocolate hearts, including a recently re-imagined ginger praline heart covered in smooth white chocolate.

This Valentine’s Day, give your beloved our special limited-edition Valentine’s Day box: the “Jet’aime” zBox 12. The words Je t’aime are engraved on the lid that will arrive beautifully wrapped. Inside are four distinct flavours, including irresistible white chocolate hearts filled with dark chocolate ganache, hazelnut pralines in smooth milk chocolate, luscious caramels coated in rich dark chocolate, and a recently re-imagined ginger praline in seductively silky white chocolate. A particularly elegant way to invite romance this month – and at any time of the year. As the pre-eminent source for fine quality French chocolate, the zChocolat brand has epitomised the expression chic à la française since its inception in 1999. The 2018 Valentine’s Day Collection, along with a wide range of other distinguished chocolate gifts, are available online exclusively at their website at www.zchocolat.com. Happy Valentine’s Day to all chocolate lovers!

 

New in the Sauternes Wine Region: Lalique to Open Second French Hotel

Lalique, the renowned French crystal brand, made headlines when opening a five-star hotel in Alsace a few years ago. Called Villa René Lalique, this Relais & Châteaux hotel is home to a gourmet restaurant with two Michelin stars. Now Lalique is expanding its hospitality imprint with a new project in the prized Sauternes wine region, situated south of Bordeaux and world famous for its sweet wines.

The Château Lafaurie-Peyraguey, whose wines are classified as Premiers Crus Classés, was purchased in 2014 by Silvio Denz, Chairman and CEO of Lalique and owner of five vineyards in the Bordeaux region, including Château Faugères, Saint-Emilion Grand Cru Classé.

With vineyards abutting the legendary Château d’Yquem, the Château Lafaurie-Peyraguey has a long history: Its building is a recognized historic monument dating to the 13th century. Now this chateau will get a new lease on life as a boutique luxury hotel and gourmet restaurant. Slated to open on June 23, 2018 to coincide with the 400th anniversary of Château Lafaurie-Peyraguey, the hotel was decorated by interior designers Lady Tina Green and Pietro Mingarelli, also behind the Lalique Maison collection and the Villa René Lalique project. The style is “country chic,” inspired by the surrounding Sauternes landscapes. Bien sur, there are Lalique crystals in the decor.

The Chateau will have 10 rooms and three suites, a wine cellar stocked with 350,000 bottles and a gastronomic restaurant overseen by Chef Jérôme Schilling, the former executive chef at Villa René Lalique. A native of Alsace, Schilling honed his skills in the kitchens of some of France’s best chefs (Joël Robuchon, Roger Verger, Thierry Marx). The hotel is managed by Christophe Noulibos.

Review: Edward Collins

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