Tea with Culture

A podcast about the cultural happenings in the United Arab Emirates presented by Hind Mezaina (The Culturist) and Wael Hattar.


Cinema Akil - Here Comes the Sun film screenings in July 

The series showcases stories and narratives that grapple with concepts relating to sunlight, sunshine and the sun in its many manifestations, featuring films from around the world that span a universe of cinematic styles, directors and genres, including romance, sci-fi, drama and comedy.  

Presented at a time when The Sun takes full command over the city, Here Comes The Sun invites audiences to escape the heat and tuck themselves away into the Alserkal Avenue A4 screening room, a shelter of sorts for a cinematic confrontation with The Sun, our chosen protagonist for the summer.

Here's the line up for July (you can see the entire programme here): 
El Sol Del Membrillo / The Quince Tree Sun (1992) on 1st, 2nd, 3rd July at 9.00pm 
Director: Victor Erica | 133 min| Spanish | Spain | Art, Drama

Little Miss Sunshine (2006) on 8th, 9th, 10th July at 9.00pm
Director: Jonathan Dayton & Valerie Faris | 101 min | English | USA | Comedy, Adventure, Drama  

Sunset Boulevard (1950) on 15th and 16th July at 9.00pm
Director: Billy Wilder  | 110 min | English | USA | Film Noir, Romance 

Utomlyonnye solntsem / Burnt by the Sun (1994) on 22nd, 23rd, 24th July at 7.00pm 
Director: Nikita Mikhalkov | 135 min | Russian | Russia | Drama, History, War 

La prise de pouvoir par Louis XIV  / The Rise of Louis XIV (1966) on 29th, 30th, 31st July | 7pm 
Director: Roberto Rossellini | 90 min | French, Latin | France | Drama, History

The screenings are free to attend. Schedules are subject to change, please check Cinema Akil or Alserkal Avenue's or website or the event page on Facebook for updates. 



Jaws 40th Anniversary Tribute by Robert Jones 

Steven Spielberg's Jaws was released 40 years ago in June 1975. The film that made me, and I'm certain almost everyone else that that watched it, not want to go swimming after watching it. 

Here's a tribute video by Robert Jones retelling the story in three minutes. 



Robert Jones on Vimeo 


Dawn by Rose McGowan 


Rose McGowan's short film Dawn was first screened at the Sundance Film Festival this January. It is now available online and you should watch it. If you have a daughter or a sister, you should make them watch it too. 

McGowan recently discussed  "institutional stupidity and institutional infantilization of actresses" in this interview after she posted this on Twitter: 



High five to Rose McGowan, we need more female voices like her. And from now on, I will only refer to Adam Sandler as Madam Panhandler.  


The following is a post on YouTube by McGowan about her short film, Dawn:

Dear viewer,

Dawn is a cautionary tale. We hurt girls with casual negligence. We change the course of lives with a stereotypical view shared thoughtlessly. We shape the minds of the innocent. Let's think different and be better.

My inspirations were varied - I wanted the color palette of The Parent Trap (1961) the loneliness of an Edward Hopper painting, the driving tension of Night of the Hunter mixed with Hemingway's unsparing style of editing. These greats are my teachers. I layered a lot into Dawn and feel it's best watched twice.

Please enjoy for free and pass it on. THOUGHT+ART = FREEDOM




"Women and the way they look at each other and feel about themselves are at the core of my work. The 1960s were a turbulent time for women, and I wanted to study that and express it through Dawn." Rose McGowan  


Exhibition: Newsha Tavakolian's Blank Pages of an Iranian Photo Album at East Wing

© Newsha Tavakolian - Blank Pages of an Iranian Photo Album

Newsha Tavakolian's series "Blank Pages of an Iranian Photo Album" will be exhibited at East Wing
from 2nd July till 3rd September 2015. The exhibition will include photos and videos, and on 27th August, the artist will be present to launch her book and talk about the exhibition.

Personally, I'm really looking forward to the exhibition and hearing Newsha Tavakolian talk about her work in August. 
The family photo album is the showcase for my generation. The yellowed albums and pictures of smiling children dressed up in their best clothes are testament to our hopes and dreams, but they end in blank pages and the moment when our parents stopped taking our pictures (…)

For me Iran is the country where I was born, I went to school here, started my career, and never left. As a photographer I have always struggled with how to perceive my society, with all its complexities and mis-understandings.

For this project, I have decided to continue producing the photo albums of my generation. To add the pictures that were never taken of the way that life is for them now, as adults. I followed people who, in a sense, define this generation. They are interchangeable, thus representing many.

This photo album is theirs; it is my vision of life in Iran now, unromantic and confined. Those who feature on the pages are interchangeable, placed randomly in the natural situation of what is or could be their daily lives.     
© Newsha Tavakolian - Blank Pages of an Iranian Photo Album
© Newsha Tavakolian - Blank Pages of an Iranian Photo Album
© Newsha Tavakolian - Blank Pages of an Iranian Photo Album
© Newsha Tavakolian - Blank Pages of an Iranian Photo Album 

Exhibition details

Date: Opening, Thursday, 2nd July at 7pm. Exhibition will run till 3rd September 2015

Venue: East Wing,  Limestone House # 12, Dubai International Financial Centre, Ritz Carlton Annex (location map

Gallery Hours: Saturday through Thursday 10:00 am – 3:00 pm and 5:00 pm - 8:00 pm  

RIP James Horner

RIP James Horner, 14th August 1953 – 22nd June 2015



Making sense of Dubai Design District (d3) 


The following was written for Dubai Design District and was posted on the d3 website on 6th April 2015.  

Making sense of d3

For the past couple of years, Dubai Design District (d3) has been a bit of an abstract concept. I’d drive by it almost daily, seeing it rise, but not sure who will move in, what will be the added value of this "district" to the city and its people.

In a city of full of mini cities (Internet City, Media City, Studio City, Dubai Industrial City, Dubai Academic City), the choice to call it Dubai Design District is worth paying attention to.

A "district" is more of a neighbourhood, a community – much smaller than a "city".  And that turns out is a clue of what to expect from d3.

Meet d3 was a three day event that aimed to introduce the district and engage with the Dubai community. To make its mark on the map and in people’s consciousness by saying "we’re open and ready for business".

I attended all three days, the programme was extensive which included music, fashion, art and family friendly activities – featuring local, regional and international names and brands. I personally treated it as a mini music festival, but I also walked around and spoke to people, asking them what they thought of the event and the place.

It felt like a new chapter in Dubai was unraveling before our eyes. It felt like a new space for the creative community. The programming and curation of Meet d3 reflected an eclectic taste that suits Dubai and its people. There was something for everyone, which you don’t see or feel at a lot of events in this city. There was an energy that I had not felt in a long time and I hope it will carry on after the event.

I am looking forward to seeing how Dubai Design District takes shape once its occupants move in. We’re expecting a wide range of companies and brands moving in, which will include designers, architects, retail and F&B.

We’re seeing a new district taking shape right before our eyes and Dubai’s creative community can’t wait to see what it has to offer.



Introducing d3


[top image is a screenshot from this d3 timelapse video]


Andy Wahloo Tent at Meet d3


In my previous post, I said I'd write more about the Andy Wahloo tent that was set up during the three days of the Meet d3 event. 

The tent was a Dubai version of the Andy Wahloo bar-restaurant in Paris, a collaboration between artist Hassan Hajjaj and award-winning restaurateur Mourad 'MoMo' Mazouz.  It was decked out with Hajjaj’s trademark style of recycled North African objects and pop-culture references, and the food was from Almaz by Momo

It was in this tent, I referred to it as Disco Tent, where I spent most of my time and had the most fun all three days. It felt like I was attending a mini music festival. There was an eclectic line up of bands and DJs and a great vibe amongst the crowd which I personally don't feel on many nights out in Dubai.  

What I think made the Disco Tent special is it reflected what a night out in Dubai should feel like - a good mix of music enjoyed by all nationalities without any restrictions imposed at most licensed venues in Dubai. 

There were no bouncers telling you where to sit/stand, no snobby guest list, no "no national dress" code you see in most licensed venues in Dubai. The place was open to everyone and no one felt uncomfortable or like they didn't belong. I also liked there was no-smoking allowed, a rule I think that is much needed here at all music venues.

This is how it should be in Dubai, but sadly, it is not something that is often experienced here. But during those three days, all the music heads I know and met were having the time of their lives and we kept wondering why we don't have more places like this in Dubai. 

Deep down we all wished the Disco Tent would stay after Meet d3 ended, but alas, it was dismantled. I do hope something with the same spirit can crop up somewhere in this city.


Here's are some images from the three days I was there:


Interiors designed by Hassan Hajjaj 


Gnawa music 

Simo Lagnawi, Marouane El Fathi and Mohammed El Gasmi brought us Gnawa music, a long tradition of trance music which travelled through Morocco from the Sahara. Since his arrival in the U.K in 2008, Simo has been a relentless pushing new boundaries fusing Gnawa with music from countries such as Gambia, Burkina faso, Senegal, Guinea, Mali, India, Japan, Venezuela, and the Caribbean.

For Meet d3 he was being joined by two traditional Gnawa performers from Marrakech for his performance at the Andy Wahloo tent. 



Mehdi Haddab and Speed Caravan

Mehdi Haddab is an Algerian-French musician, and a pioneer of the electric oud (lute). Over the years, he’s played a major role in developing and adapting the instrument to different music genres.

Haddab is known in the West as “Jimi Hendrix of the electric oud” for his masterful performances. He has founded several band including Ikova, DuOud and Speed Caravan and has collaborated with prominent musicians including Led Zeppelin bassist John Paul Jones.

Haddab performed a killer version of Galvanize by The Chemical Brothers (I found a video of the track you can watch and listen to below).



Luke Howard from Horse Meat Disco 

Luke Howard is one quarter of Horse Meat Disco, the four man DJ club collective that has continued to lead the way in the disco field with packed residencies at their HQ, Eagle London in London’s inner city Vauxhall, Cielo and various venues in New York, Prince Charles in Berlin and Silencio/Wanderlust in Paris.

Now approaching their tenth year of existence and inspired by the music and inclusive ethos of New York’s heady club scene in the 1970s-80s, the collective has garnered a unique reputation for throwing amazing parties with unmatchable sets. 


Everyone was dancing to Luke Howard's set, he was on for two of the three nights and some great tunes. 



Jannis (Jakarta Records)  

Jannis' set included Middle Eastern dance classics from the 1960s-70s. You can hear some of his mixes on his Soundcloud account Habibi Funk



DJ Lafriq from Arfoud Brothers band


James Locksmith 

Dubai based DJ James Locksmith was the last DJ on the last night and at one point during his set, there was a guy drumming along to his set. At that point, almost everyone was on stage dancing the last dance. 



Here's a short video to give you a glimpse inside the tent. 




Photo review of Meet d3



Photo Review of Meet d3 


A couple of months ago, Dubai Design District (d3) hosted a three day event from 2nd - 4th April 2015 called Meed d3 which was open to the public and free to attend. It was the first time d3 was open to the public, the aim was to introduce the district to the public, to get a sense of the space and what's to come. 

The schedule for the three days included a mix of local, regional and international designers, artists, musicians, concept retailers and unique dining experiences - many of which will be moving into Dubai Design District in the next few months.  

Here's an overview of what I saw:

Room Service by S*auce 

A fully shoppable mobile bedroom installation which featured functional design pieces by multidisciplinary Emirati artist Latifa Saeed, Lebanese pop-artist Corinne Martin, as well as fashion and lifestyle items by a host of regional and international designers.

Evolution of Emirati Dress  - exhibition and talk

"Evolution of Emirati Dress" was an exhibition showcasing the different forms of dress worn by women in the UAE from 1960 to 2011, with an emphasis on the traditional Emirati "thawb" and "kandurah" throughout this period. 

The exhibition was based on the book "Sultani—Traditions Renewed" by Dr. Reem El Mutwalli, whichtraces the impact of oil wealth, urbanization, access to the world market, and the pressures of globalization on dress and a conservative Arab-Islamic society.


'Dragon Skin' ceiling installation by Wanders Wagner Architects   

This colour changing light ceiling installation was probably the most photographed during Meet d3, designed by Wanders Wagner Arhitects.  

Tahir Sultan

Kuwaiti fashion designer, Tahir Sultan created a region-centric project that dealt with culture, history, identity and popular modern culture. A state-of-the-art blue Bedouin tent created by over 750 artisans, conveyed both form and function and added a modern element to what is both historical and traditional. The use of a tent, a common regional symbol for safety, refuge and shelter, was intended to act as a metaphor for great and captivating cities today. These are images from inside the tent.


Wink Space 

Wink Space is conceived and constructed by architects Masakazu Shirane and Saya Miyazaki. It utilizes the world’s first zipper architecture. Flat, hard, mirrored panels of varying sizes and triangular in shape are connected by zipper, and through the use of small suspension cables, it is shaped by the architects through an origami-like process of folding and distributing tension. 

Any single triangular panel may be removed by simply unzipping it from its surrounding panels, thus creating a window at any point along the space, allowing the inside and outside worlds to “wink” at one another.

Mourad Mazouz and Hassan Hajjaj presenting Andy Wahloo and Almaz 

Moroccan-born pop artist Hassan Hajjaj and award-winning restaurateur Mourad 'MoMo' Mazouz have worked together for years creating food-art experiences (perhaps their most famous is the Andy Wahloo bar-restaurant in Paris).

For Meet d3 they brought us a culinary and musical feast in a tent that was called Andy Wahloo, or as I'd like to refer to it as the "Disco Tent". It was where I spent most of my time during the three days and had the most fun (will write more about it in a separate post). The tent was decked out with Hajjaj’s trademark style of recycled North African objects and pop-culture references.

Lasvit, founded in 2007 by Leon Jakimic, is a manufacturer of unique works of glass, including bespoke light fittings, glass art installations and award-winning collections. 

With an outdoor glassworks furnace installed specifically at Meet d3, visitors had a unique opportunity to glimpse a magical world of hand-molded blown glass manufacture. Visitors were invited to not only witness but also participate in the process of transforming raw glass into original objects with the help of professional Czech glass makers.

OBEY mural 

The iconic OBEY face is probably the most recognized street art image today, seen in many cities since 1990. During Meet d3, members of the OBEY were in Dubai for the first time to live-paste a massive 30 meter x 8 meter installation made up of 4 huge square graphics from their music collection. 

Sonic Portrait

A Model Studio was created as part of the exhibition "Systems for a Score" by Fari Bradley and Chris Weaver during their 2014-2015 residency at Tashkeel in Dubai. The bespoke recording studio created by the artists, that was central to their exhibition in which UAE-based musicians, artists and local school children interpreted traditional Emirati weave (Al Sadu) as graphic scores. 

For Meet d3, the studio was repurposed and opened to the public. Using visual and written language-based prompts (in both Arabic and English), members of the public were invited to enter the space and relay an aspect of their own personal story in response to visual and written prompts.

Cinema Akil x Gazette 

Cinema Akil x Gazette screened “Life Eraser” and “Hot Dollar” starring Tilda Swinton from the Simulacrum & Hyperbole series by British artist Katerina Jebb

Both films challenge Jebb's feminine icons in unexpected and intimate scenarios, unraveling seemingly improvised rants that in fact point to a carefully crafted monologue of epic proportions. Jebb’s sardonic tale of women questions art, commerce and the complex battle between ego and id. 


threeASFOUR is an avant garde trio of designers made up of Gabi Asfour, Angela Donhauser and Adi Gil. Their experimental designs have been worn by Bjork and Yoko Ono and displayed in Metropolitan Museum of Art. 

At Meet d3, threeASFOUR transitioned from the world of fashion to design and technology and created an immersive multimedia presentation of their latest collection.


MashrouLeila and Zahed Sultan on the Mainstage

The mainstage hosted several concerts every night, but I only attended two, Mashrou' Leila and Zahed Sultan.



If you still want to see more, here are video highlights from all three days of Meet d3:





All images © Hind Mezaina



Ramadan Kareem 2015



[image via Al Ahram


RIP Christopher Lee 


RIP Christopher Lee, 27 May 1922 – 7 June 2015. 

Christopher Lee was the definitive working actor. His career was long, and he appeared in more films than any major performer in the English-speaking world — over 250. What distinguishes him, though, and should make him a role model for anyone seeking a life on stage or screen, is not that he worked so much but that he worked so well.

He took that work seriously as both job and art, even in the lightest or most ridiculous roles, and he gave far better, more committed performances than many, if not most, of his films deserved. 


Video and text via Press Play