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Tea with Culture

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


Giorgio Moroder's First-Ever DJ Set


I heard about Giorgio Moroder doing his first ever DJ set (aged 73) at Deep Space, a Red Bull Music Academy Special at the Output club in New York recently and today I found out his set from the night can be heard online

I listened to it several times, it is Moroder-tastic and had to share it with you. It includes some cracking electro and disco tunes, including several Donna Summer classics. You even get to hear from the man himself. Hang a large discoball from the ceiling, turn down the lights and dance to this.


Full tracklist can be found here.


One of the true greats of disco and electronic music, Giorgio Moroder brought a very European aesthetic to black American dance grooves. Although Italian by upbringing, Moroder did most of his work in Munich and the influence of Düsseldorf’s Kraftwerk can be heard in his work for Donna Summer, which includes two of the ultimate disco anthems, I Feel Love and Love To Love You Baby. This was motorik music: spacious, trippy, ever-lasting, far removed from the relentless bounce of most disco.

Giorgio Moroder is also a supreme composer of soundtracks, scoring an unlikely success with The Chase, the theme from Midnight Express, and his footprints are all over British synth-pop, from Pet Shop Boys to New Order to Human League. It was with the latter’s Phil Oakey that he got his biggest self-credited hit in 1984, Together In Electric Dreams. (via RBMA Radio)



Bonus Giorgio Moroder love, listen to this one hour long Dazed Digital Mix: The Giorgio Moroder Masterclass mixed by Wriggly Scott to celebrate Dazed's Daft Punk vs Giorgio Moroder cover feature,



[image via]


Random Stars - Emirati All-Girl Rock Band


Over a week ago, The National featured a story about Random Stars, "the first Emirati all-girl rock band". The papers here like to sensationalise anything done by an Emirati that is otherwise deemed quite ordinary in any other country. There's also a tendency by many Emiratis to claim they're the first to do anything (in this country), which again if it happened anywhere else, no one would bat an eyelid (e.g. first Emirati metro driver, first Emirati taxi driver).

But I must confess, even I found this story about Random Stars quite charming. Not sure about the accuracy of them being the first Emirati all-girl rock band (I'd like to think there are/have been other Emirati girls jamming in a majlis somehere in this country) - but it was great to see these young girls pursuing music, something that isn't necessarily encouraged in this part of the world.


About Random Stars:

The young women are all students at the Higher Colleges of Technology at Al Ain, and were brought together by English teacher Jackie Small from the UK. Remarkably, given the standard of their performance during an art exhibition at the college yesterday, only one of them had played an instrument before the band formed last year.

"I've always started bands wherever I've gone. I used to do that in the UK," said Ms Small. "When I started teaching here there were clubs so I thought I'd start a music club, but there was already one.

"So I decided to do a guitar club and there were a few people interested. I had in my mind a band so I got a drum kit and taught someone to play the drums, and I got a bass and taught them to play that.

"So we had the basis of a band, and last year they really got together and played a few songs."

Initially Ms Small was the driving force behind the project, but she was determined from the start to hand it over to the members.

"My idea was to let them own it, I had to step back so that they could take over so it's their band. They get together, they organise rehearsals, they do the hard work."

Initially the musicians, who all live in Al Ain, adapted classics such as Smoke on the Water and less rocky material such as the Jack Jones' 60s classic Baby, I'm Yours. However Ms Small added: "When they come back in September they're going to work on their own songs." (via The National)


So far, Random Stars which consists of Bushra Hassan Al Hashimi (rhythm guitar), Hamda Al Ghaithi (lead guitarist), Aysha Salem Al Kaabi (bass player), Aysha Abdullah Al Maskari (drummer), Almayasa Al Kaabi (keyboard player) have been performing college events, but hope they get a chance to play to a wider audience.


I'd like to dedicate this song, "Girls Who Plays Guitars' by Maximo Park to Random Stars. Hats off to them, hope we get to see (and hear) more of them in the near future. And here's to girls everywhere that follow their dreams.





[image via The National]



Daft Punk vs Soul Train


Yesterday, I posted a Daft Punk vs 2001: A Space Odyssey clip and today I discovered another mashup using Daft Punk's music. 

Here is Daft Punk vs Soul Train, the title on YouTube says "How to dance to Get Lucky". (Anyone knows the original song they're dancing to?)



Is mashing up Daft Punk's music to random clips the new trendy thing on the Internet?




[hat tip Gavin Cassidy]


Holland. The Original Cool.


Holland has declared itself the "Original Cool" with this new campaign in partnership with KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, Schiphol Airport, and Amsterdam Marketing.

Looks like this is the first of several campaigns promoting the cities in Holland. The first one focuses on Amsterdam.

Greetings, gallant traveler! Tell us, what do you know about Holland? Picturesque canals? Windmills? Master paintings from the Golden Age? Yes, we have it all!

But let us show you what's really cool about Holland and we'll start with Amsterdam.

In 2013 the city is celebrating a host of incredible milestones, so there's never been a better time to book a trip. You call it a travel day, we call it the first day of vacation!


I like it. 



THIS is how you promote a city or a country. Show its people and how they live.  And in case you don't know the difference between Holland and The Netherlands, have a look at this post from a few months ago



[hat tip Ricardo Verboom, my half Dutch friend]


Daft Punk's Contact vs Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey


Made. My. Day.

Daft Punk's Contact synched up against a scene from 2001: A Space Odyssey

On a whim, I tried playing Contact against the end segment of 2001 and it synced up flawlessly. The film and song aren't edited in any way, they both play out in full duration. It's incredible how well they match.


Watch it now.





[hat tip Dorian Lynskey]


Ludlites Love Music - The world through a plastic lens v.8 


The Ludlites Lo-fi Photography Collective aims to raise the profile of plastic lens and plastic camera photography in Australia. The collective includes high profile and established photographers, plus amateur photographers who work in alternative creative fields.

They all share a love of analogue, film based lo-tech photography and delight in the imperfections of plastic camera photography, as a response to the perfection of digital photography.

I met one of the "Luddies", Steven Godbee in London in 2007 at the Lomography World Congress and since then I've been followng his work and the exhibitons organised by the collective. 

The theme for this year's Ludites exhibition is "Ludites Love Music", which will exhibit photos inspired by song lyrics. There was a call for submission to take part in this exhibition and I'm glad to say my work was selected, (I guess you may call me a long distance Luddie). The exhibition will take place in Sydney, at the Bondi Pavilion Gallery from 15th May-23rd June, part of the prestigious Head On Photo Festival and Vivid Sydney.


It’s been said that ‘a picture paints a thousand words’. Sydney’s photographic collective, the Ludlites, has turned that idea on its head and created an exhibition of photographs where the words come first and become inspiration for the pictures – in this case not painted, but created in the old-school fashion, using film cameras.

In Ludlites Love Music, the group presents over 50 works that have been inspired by song lyrics.


On 18th May, the exhibition will be launched by Toby Creswell, music journalist, producer of the documentaries Great Australian Albums and Paul Kelly: Stories of Me, former editor of Rolling Stone and founding editor of Juice magazine. 

I wish I could be in Sydney for this. If you are in Sydney, please do go and check out this exhibition and say hello to the Ludlites.


Here's a selection of photos taking part in the exhibition, including links to the songs that inspired these photos. 

Candy Flu by Jessica Bee
Camera: Holga 135 with Colour Negative 800 ISO film
Lyric Inspiration: Candy Flu by The Walking Who

© Jessica Bee


I Love My Dog by Steven Godbee 
Camera: Holga 
Lyric Inspiration: I Love My Dog by Cat Stevens

© Steven Godbee 


I Would Walk 500 Miles by Riaan Cilliers 
Camera: Holga 120 with Kodak Pro160    
Lyric Inspiration: I Would Walk 500 Miles by The Proclaimers

© Riaan Cilliers  


Love Letter to Japan by Alana Dimou 
Camera: Holga with Kodak Ektachrome film 
Lyric Inspiration: Love Letter To Japan by The Bird and The Bee 

© Alana Dimou  


Never Let Me Go by Yvette Worboys
Camera: Holga with Ektachrome 200 expired film 
Lyric Inspiration: Never Let Me Go by Florence and the Machine  

© Yvette Worboys  


New York State of Mind by Alicia Mack 
Camera: Holga with 120 (B&W) film 
Lyric Inspiration: New York State of Mind by Billy Joel

© Alicia Mack   


The Anchor Song by Hind Mezaina 
Camera: Diana Mini
Lyric Inspiration: The Anchor Song by Bjork 

© Hind Mezaina



Wheels by Vanessa Zoe Power  
Camera: SuperSampler with Colour Neg 100ISO 35mm film 
Lyric Inspiration: Wheels by Flying Burrito Brothers

© Vanessa Zoe Power



The Ludlites: Patrick Boland, Heleana Genaus, Tim Gibbs, Steven Godbee, Tim Hixson, Peter Lang, Anika Luzemann, Wayne Maranda and Anthony McGovern

Guest photographers: Alana Dimou, Alex Craig, Alicia Mack, Bethany Schneiders, Brad Bennett, Bradley Shaw, Cameron Martin, Carolinna Lee, Craig Proudford, Daniel Grant, Elizabeth Wong, Elliot Swanson, Emma Vincent, Emma Young, Fi Tunnicliff, Gareth Jolly, Hind Mezaina, Hykie Kwong, Jessica Bee, Lisa Marshall, Lucas Brown, Melissa Dixon, Neda Vancovac, Rachael Willis, Riaan Cilliers, Simon Harrington, Stephen Crowfoot, Vanessa Power and Yvette Worboys. 

The Ludlites Love Music exhibiton includes photos inpired by music by artists including:
Sigur Rós, Tom Waits, Boy & Bear, Frank Sinatra, Röyksopp, Don McLean, You Am I, Cat Stevens, Iggy Pop, Björk, Radiohead, The Walking Who, David McComb, Jay-Z, Jes Hudak, Vicki Anderson, Velvet Underground, Alicia Keys, Jack Johnson, Ian Moss, Madonna, Billy Joel, Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds, The Cure, Xavier Rudd, Incubus, Split Enz, The Proclaimers and Flying Burrito Brothers.



Event Details 
Dates: 15th May - 23rd June 2013, 10.00am-5.00pm 
Venue: Bondi Pavilion Gallery, Queen Elizabeth Drive, Bondi Beach, Sydney




STAR TOO - Are You There

is an experimental theatre project based in Dubai. I've been missing their shows over the past few years, but I hope I don't miss their sixth and latest production, Are You There, taking place at The Fridge on 17th and 18th May.
Jules Verne’s lost novel is alive and well in Dubai with the STAR TOO Experimental Theatre troupe breathing life into the book entitled Paris in the 20th Century in an original creation called ARE YOU THERE.
This May 17th and 18th at The Fridge, Al Serkal Avenue, performers in both Dubai and Paris will give a live and interactive rendition of this true-to-life sci-fi novel. 
The evening is set to be an underground, animated lecture in a classroom setting, hosted by a cast of artists struggling to preserve the humanities that do not serve “the age’s industrial aims” of a not-so-distant future society.

According to the STAR TOO's blog, Are You There is not a play a traditional play, but a series of themes presented by fictional characters inspired by Jules Verne’s book, blurring the lines between a performance and a presentation.
The playing space becomes a platform for learning, sharing ideas, and reconnecting with other human beings. The cast has several surprises in store including live feeds, audience interaction, and a possibly different ending to this gathering depending on spectator vote.
The idea is that performers are characters holding a covert meeting with the audience, maybe the last of its kind. And it might not be far from the truth. Ironically, much like what Verne predicted, and proving that even the classics can disappear, his novel must not have sold enough and, after consulting the Societé Jules Verne in France, it is now out of print.

Are You There trailer

Here's a look at the past STAR TOO shows. 

Event details

Date and timings: Friday, 17th at 8.30pm and Saturday, 18th May at 5.30pm and 8.30pm
Venue: The Fridge Dubai, Al Serkal Avenue, Al Quoz (location map)
Tickets: AED 75 


Slidefest X - 15th May 2013


The tenth edition of Slidefest organised by Gulf Photo Plus is on this Wednesday, 15th May at 7pm in the Knowledge Village Auditorium. Slidefest started in 2009 and it's so great to see that it will celebrate 10 editions this week. Over the past few years, Slidefest has been a showcase of some very good photography projects, most of it from the region.

If you are new to Slidefest, it's an event organised by Gulf Photo Plus where photographers present their personal projects, from documentary projects to fine art, still-life and landscape images. The event also aims to bring photographers (amateurs and pros) and people from the photography community together where people can network, connect and share stories.

Here's the line up for this edition: 


Christopher Pike

© Christopher Pike

Majlis al Jinn: Gathering Place of Spirits is a series chronicling the escapades of the Middle East Caving and Expeditionary Team (MECET), who in their first year of existence, took on a quite serious cave system, (which includes the ninth largest cave chamber in the world), on the Selma Plateau 100km south-east of Muscat in the Sultanate of Oman.

The system has seen few visitors with less then half a dozen known teams having ever entered the far reaches of the caves. All but one member are new to caving and at an average of -200 meters underground any mistake can be very serious if not deadly, luckily though the group has survived thus far and has learnt from food/water shortages, hyperthermia, flooding caves among many other valuable lessons.

The series looks at the beauty of darkness as well as what it takes to survive deep underground in Oman. 



Edwin Koo

© Edwin Koo

Swat Valley, nestled in the northwest of Pakistan, was once known as the “Switzerland of the East”. Renowned for its natural beauty, hospitable people and surreal tranquillity, men and women from all over the world flocked to its folds, in search of paradise on earth.

Today, nobody goes to Swat. The valley was first scourged by the terror of the Taliban, then by Pakistan’s worst flood in history. Very little of “paradise” remain. The conflict and subsequent hardship endured by the people of Swat had robbed them of their paradise. Innocence, once lost, could never again be found. 



Melina Mitri


The #webuiltthiscity initiative is first and foremost dedicated to the founding fathers of the UAE and the current rulers who continue their legacy.  Inspired by National Day, participants uploaded images of places, people and moments captured through out the UAE.

Uploading them to Instagram with the hashtag #webuiltthiscity the initative resulted is a variety of unique perspectives of the UAE, a selection of which are being shared at Slidefest. 



Nicolas Dumont

© Nicolas Dumont

Nicolas has worked as a professional photographer for more than 21 years, and has based himself in the United Arab Emirates since 1991. Specializing in photography for the hospitality sector, his portrait series is a break from his professional subject matter.

In a unique approach to portraits, Nicolas convinced his subjects to allow him to drench them in water for an unusual and striking series of portraits.



Imran Ahmed

© Imran Ahmed

Having grown up in the UAE in the 70's Imran remembers Dubai as a different city then what stands today.  Presenting a collection of images capturing the Kushti wrestling that occurs on Fridays in Deira, Imran aims to share the nostalgia that the events bring to him, of childhood days gone by, playing in wide open dusty playgrounds.



Sami Al Tokhais 

© Sami Al Tokhais

The last week in Sami’s month-long stay in Guatemala was Semana Santa or Holy Week.  During Holy Week, thousands of people participate in processions, which are inspired by Biblical passages.

These processions include people walking in a formal and ceremonial manner carrying lifelike wooden sculptures that represent events from the “Passion of Christ.” Sami covered Holy Thursday in the town of Antigua, and Good Friday in the capital, Guatemala City.



Sebastian Opitz

© Sebastian Opitz

Originally from Hamburg, Germany, it was here in Dubai that Sebastian discovered his interest in architectural photography, which became the focus of his interest now and for the last three years.  

After working on a number of architectural photography assignments throughout the region, Sebastian interest has turned to timelapse photography.  Capturing stunning time lapses of the city, Sebastian has focused on the city of Dubai for his 2013 personal project.  

In a nutshell, he intends to present Dubai as a futuristic city on a planet in a distant galaxy.



Stephan Geyer 

© Stephan Geyer

Born in Barcelona, Stephan Geyer immigrated to Latin America with his family at an early age and grew up living in 3 continents. Stephan began photographing at a very young age with a Minolta film camera his father gave him.

Largely self-taught, travel and photography were two passions that began at a young age for Geyer. Traveling recently to Nepal, Geyer will share images of the stunning landscapes encountered along his journey through Island Peak. 





Event details:
Date: Wednesday, 15th May, doors open at 7pm, Slidefest begins at 7.30pm.
Location: Knowledge Village Auditorium, Dubai (location map)
Free entry




British Council - The Documentary Series in Abu Dhabi


The British Council is hosting a documentary series at Vox Cinemas in Abu Dhabi and the line up looks great. Oh, how I wish this could also come to Dubai.

The theme of the documentary series is Perspectives and Retrospectives and includes a series of award winning regional and international documentaries.


Thursday, 9th May 2013 at 7.00 pm - Opening night, films from the Gul

  • Works of early Bahraini documentary filmmaker Khalifa Shaheen
  • Between two banks by Nujoom Alghanem
  • The falcon and stage of hope by Khalid Siddiq

The opening night will include a panel discussion on History of Cinema in the Gulf and Documentary Film Production in the Region, with Khalifa Shaheen, Khalid Siddiq and Khalid Al-Budour, moderated by Nezar Andari. 

Friday, 10th May 2013

7.00 pm - The Omar Amiralay tribute 
The Chickens (42 mins)
A Plate of Sardines (17 mins) 

9.00 pm - I am Breathing by Emma Davie and Morag McKinnon (72 mins)


I am Breathing will be followed by Q&A with Professor Noé Mendelle from the Scottish Documentary Institute, moderated by Ozge Calafato.
The discussion will focus on Neil Platt's battle with the Motor Neurone Disease and Noe's observations on the effects of his deteriorating condition on his family, the challenges the filmmaker faced when shooting the film and the global awareness campaign they started around it.



Saturday, 11th May 2013

7.00pm - Divorce Irania Style by Kim Longinotto and Zibar Mir-Hosseini (80 mins) 

9.00 pm - Retrospective on early Palestinian documentaries  

  • Scenes from under occupation in Gaza by Moustafa Abu Ali (13 min)   
  • They don’t exist by Moustafa Abu Ali (24 min)
  • Palestine in the eye by Moustafa Abu Ali (25 min)
  • Children nevertheless by Khadijeh Habashneh (23 min)

Retrospective on Early Palestinian programme is followed by Q&A with Khadijeh Habashneh, moderated by Prof. Alia Yunis. The discussion will explore the historical, artistic and political significance of the early works by revolutionary Palestinian filmmakers. Khadija Habashneh, late Moustafa Abu Ali's wife, will elaborate on the starting points for these filmmakers, their challenges and their achievements




Sunday, 12th May 2013

7.00 pm - In the Shadow of a Man by Hanan Abdulla (65 min)


9.00 pm - Town of Runners by Jerry Rothwell (86 min) 



Monday, 13th May 2013

7.00 pm - How Much Does Your Building Weigh, Mr Foster? by Carlos Carcas (78 min)  



9.00 pm - Layali Bala Noom (Sleepless Nights) by Elaine Raheb (128 min) 



Tuesday, 14th May 2013 at 7.00 pm - Closing Night 

Official release of the trailer of Champ of the Camp by Mahmoud Kaabour 

Champ of the Camp is a feature-length documentary on the contestants of an X Factor-like singing competition that takes place in the UAE’s labor camps. The film follows talented and charismatic laborer-crooners from the Asian subcontinent as they hone their vocal skills at labor accommodations and on work sites, and entertain dreams of stardom over the course of the competition. 

Champ of the Camp - Photo by Siddarth Siva


Searching for Sugar Man by Malik Bendjelloul (86 min)





Event details
Dates: 09-14th May, 7pm and 9pm
Venue: Vox Cinemas, Marina Mall in Abu Dhabi 


April is over, April is over



I have not been very active here during the month of April. But don't worry, normal programming will resume shortly.  





[Quote and image via The Futurist!]