Birthday Wishes Pour In As Model Mona Tougaard Turns 21 - Arab News » Viral Ants USA (2023)
DUBAI: Danish model Mona Tougaard turned 21 this week and the fashion industry turned out in force to celebrate the rising star by showcasing her runway career highlights on Instagram.
The model — who is of Turkish, Somali and Ethiopian descent — reposted several birthday wishes from her friends and colleagues in the industry on social media.
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British Moroccan model Nora Attal took to Instagram Stories to share a photo of the duo in which Tougaard can be seen carrying Attal in her arms. Attal captioned the Story, “Happy birthdaysister.”
French Algerian model Loli Bahia posted a cheeky video of an asleep Tougaard, captioning the birthday post, “Happy birthdaysleeping beauty.”
Pieter Mulier, the creative director of fashion house Alaia, posted a behind-the-scenes video of Tougaard from a runway show, and simply wrote, “Happy Bday.”
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For his part, fashion editor, stylist and creative consultant Carlos Nazario shared a photo from a British Vogue shoot and wrote, “Happy Birthdayyoung legend @mona_tougaard . Magnificent Mona for @britishvogue by @alasdairmclellan and me,” adding a black heart emoji.
Tougaard also took to Instagram to post a carousel of images from her relaxed birthday celebrations, featuring fellow Danish models Rebecca Midjord Eriksen and Nina Marker.
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Tougaard most recently featured in a high-profile campaign for the LV Archlight 2.0 collection from Louis Vuitton, which starred US rapper Jaden Smith, US actress Chloe Grace Moretz and Chinese footballer Sam Li Sirong.
A sculptured sneaker that was originally designed by Nicolas Ghesquière for the house’s Spring/Summer 2018 runway show has now proved inspiration for Vuitton‘s next chapter, giving a sporty take on the classic loafer.
Earlier this year, Tougaard — who was scouted at the age of 12 and has been modelling since she was 15 — also walked for high-end French label Mugler. The model posted a video from the runway show, captioning the post, “@mugleroffical this was truly incredible and so special. You guys embrace diversity and women in so many ways I’m extremely honored to be a part of this.”
Tougaard was also the face of fashion house Alberta Ferretti’s Spring/Summer 2023 collection.
In a 2020 interview with The Wall Street Journal, Tougaard opened up about being a multiracial model in the fashion industry. The modeling industry, she said, has yet to adequately represent multiracial faces like hers. “We’re going in the direction, but we’re still not there at all,” she said at the time.
DUBAI: UAE-based chef Hattem Mattar has never been busier. The Arab world’s barbecue king has been making waves in the Middle East dining scene for a while. And while overseeing the recent opening of his brand new live-fire-cooking restaurant concept — FIYA Dubai — and planning his upcoming expansion into Saudi Arabia, he was invited to showcase his unique style of live fire-cooking in the Maldives at Soneva Fush in the Baa Atoll and at Soneva Jani in the Noonu Atoll in late April, as part of their Soneva Stars program — a year-round roster of acclaimed visiting experts and one-of-a-kind activities.
Mattar is the first person from the GCC to be invited to the program. “I feel a great responsibility to put my best foot forward,” he told Arab News in early April. “I feel very honored obviously. There is a very big GCC community that stays at Soneva. I hope there are guests that can relate to what we’re doing, that know who we are. And I hope they can come back home and be like, ‘I spent time with the Mattar family at Suneva and we had dinner together in the middle of nowhere.’ I think that would be a really cool story to tell.” 
Mattar, who had the chance to showcase his skills in Saudi Arabia in December last year, is also excited about his upcoming plans to set up shop in the Kingdom.  
“We went right before Christmas to cook at the King Abdullah Financial District, where I had a supper club at Level 23. There’s been a lot of Saudi interest from people who know it from Dubai. We are setting up in the Bujairi district in Diriyah with the biggest names in the city. And we’re really excited to get to make our food for the Saudi crowd,” said Mattar. 
Here, the renowned chef discusses the challenges of barbecue cooking, courage in the kitchen, and keyboard warriors.  
When you started out as a professional, what was the most common mistake you made? 
The trick with barbecue is that it’s not something you can replicate. The fire is different. The wind is different. The piece of wood is different. The meat is different. It’s not digital. The biggest mistake I made was trying to adjust more than one variable at a time. I wouldn’t know what it was that I did that made that right. And if there was something wrong, I couldn’t tell if it was the thing that I adjusted that made it wrong. I was trying to do too many things at once. And I realized I had to just decide. Do I want to fix texture? Do I want to fix flavor? Do I want to fix crust? And it was just brisket. It was the one thing that I was trying to perfect. That’s the beauty and the challenge of barbecue. It’s the last analogue food experience, I think.  
What is your top tip for amateur chefs? 
My top tip is a philosophical one. It has nothing to do with your equipment. It has to do with your courage and your belief in the dish you’re making. Unless you’re feeding other people, there’s no such thing as making a mistake in the kitchen. So, if you want to put mustard with peach and put that on a chicken sandwich with buffalo sauce and a really soft potato bun, man, do it. Give it a go. Don’t be afraid of what comes out. Because you’re going to eat it. And if it’s good, you’re like, ‘Maybe I should invite my friends.’ And, before you know it, you’ve got a real dish on your hands. But if you don’t have the courage to try, you’ll never get a chance to see how much you’re capable of doing. 
What one ingredient can instantly improve any dish?  
It’s such a weird combo of ingredients but tomato, parsley and onion work on virtually anything — rice, eggs, sandwiches, meat, fish, pasta… anything. 
What’s your favorite cuisine when you go out to eat? 
I’m very partial to Thai. And Indian. I’m also very partial to the Arabic kitchen but not the standard ones. I love Iraqi cuisine. I love Syrian cuisine. Anything home-cooked. So, the cuisines that have spice; I’m not going out for steak. I’m going out to try things that have more spices in it than people have in their cabinets. 

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What behavior by customers most annoys you? 
I detest customers that are brave when they get home to their keyboard but don’t have the courage to say something about their meal, warranted or not, to your face. I always appreciate when someone’s like, “Hey man, this is not what I ordered,” or “You guys missed this” or “This is too spicy.” Then I’ll go out of my way to make sure that that guest is not only well looked after, but is made to feel compensated — over-compensated, actually. I try and make a point of visiting most of the tables. And when I see someone writing online, “Our waiter brought the food incorrectly and by the time it was sent back, it was cold” then I’m, like, “Man, I was at your table. Why not tell me?” But digital life has made people braver than they would be in real life, because digital life has no consequences. 
What’s the most difficult dish for you to get right? 
Getting the skin of the cod crispy. Fish in general is tricky, but on the barbecue, it’s even more tricky. 

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As a head chef what are you like in the kitchen with your crew?  
My management style is like our cuisine: It’s barbecue, it’s laidback. I give everybody room to grow and to make mistakes. But after a certain point, if you’ve been on the team long enough, I expect excellence. I expect it out of myself first. And then I hope I demonstrate it. And I hope they follow suit.  
LONDON: At $200 billion a year, the games industry is worth over four times that of the film industry. However, like the film industry, video games manufacturers do like a franchise, and few can compare with the long list of Capcom’s “Resident Evil” games that can be traced all the way back to 1996.
Since then, 138 million units have been sold and the series has inspired nine films that have grossed over $1.2 billion.
Now, “Resident Evil 4,” first released in 2005, has been remade this year for the powerful PlayStation 5 platform.

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“Experience the nightmare” warns the game that sees you reprise the role of Leon S. Kennedy, a former policeman turned super-secret agent.
The storyline is almost incidental for a game that focuses on gameplay over character depth, but for what it is worth you’re thrown in at the deep end exploring a Spanish rural cult nightmare as part of the search for “Baby Eagle” — the kidnapped US president’s daughter.
Players do not need previous experience with the franchise to get to grips with the atmospheric settings filled with villagers with red eyes cursing in Spanish before attacking you with chainsaws, axes, pitchforks and the like. The settings are polished, detailed and claustrophobic, with the haptic feedback through the controller generating suspense and getting the players heart rate racing.

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“Resident Evil 4” is very much a linear survival horror story with some arenas allowing for players to choose an approach of stealth or all out violence. The game has a steady learning curve that allows players to become familiar with more weapons and harder enemies.
One of its best features is the combat engine. You view Leon from over his shoulder; and aiming, reloading and changing weapons or going into melee mode is simple and smooth. Rarely does the player lose perspective of what’s going on around them. Weapons can be upgraded in terms of power and capacity as you progress via a bizarre English-accented merchant who pops up in all sorts of places.
The difficulty level feels just about right, with no abundance of ammunition but always a helpful grenade hidden in a random cupboard when you need it. The game features some of the “Resident Evil” staples, such as saving via a typewriter and combining different types of herbs to recover health.
The PS5 controller acts as a walkie talkie with Leon’s headquarters which is a nice touch. Not so smart is the introduction of mini-missions, such as collecting snakes, which dilute the momentum of the main game for little reward.
Much of the game sees you try to reach a lake, or a church and the puzzle features involved are creative whilst not overly taxing, meaning players are unlikely to get stuck for any long period of time. Big boss villains are imaginative and unsettling; however, the foot soldiers are identikit and a bit repetitive in form and function. Nit-picking aside, this remake is an excellent upgrade for newcomers to this established series.

DUBAI: After the fan-favorite “Pete’s Dragon” remake that delighted both critics and fans, filmmaker David Lowery is returning to bring to life a century-old beloved children’s tale, “Peter Pan & Wendy,” releasing on streaming platform Disney+ on April 28 in the Middle East.
“I initially thought, oh, it’s ‘Peter Pan,’ I know this story, how hard can this be? Then, as I began work on the screenplay and as we developed it over a number of years, I realized not only is there more to discover within it but there’s so much that has never really been seen on screen before,” said Lowery during a recent virtual press conference.

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“We have this sense of familiarity with it, and we need to honor that. But we have to give audiences a film where they are getting the Peter Pan and Wendy that they know and love, but also, presenting it in a new light. And that was the real challenge,” said Lowery.
The film stars Jude Law playing the iconic character Captain Hook, with Jim Gaffigan portraying Smee, his right-hand man.
Law said: “To me, it was really important that there was always truth to Captain Hook. I always say, ‘The bad guy never knows he’s the bad guy.’ He thinks he’s the hero and that all these others are the bad guys around him. And so, yeah, I went back to the book, and what’s remarkable about the book is at times how sparse it is, and yet these sentences have just conjured up years and years of imagination in all of us.”

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“The book talks about Captain Hook being the only pirate that Long John Silver was scared of, so I knew he had to be really scary and physically present in a way that wasn’t pantomimical, it was honest and real. And then, you start to look at what it must be like to live your life with a hook, and what does that mean, who do you rely on?
“Suddenly, you see … Smee isn’t just the foolish sort of first mate, he’s actually your valet, your best friend, because he does everything for you … And that’s before I get into how Hook got there and what made him so full of fury and hatred for Peter. So, it was so much to play with,” he continued.
Teenage actor Alexander Molony makes his film debut in the titular role of Peter Pan.
“It was just a massive honor to play this character who people have known and loved for many years, but I think I really got into my character by sort of bringing him off-set as well with the amount of fun we had on set. All the pranks, all the water fights we had … It was just an amazing experience and I think that really helped to sort of allow me to develop my character further,” said Molony.
Bringing another iconic character to life is “Black-ish” star Yara Shahidi, who plays the little green fairy, Tinkerbell.
“I didn’t watch much television growing up, but it was always fairy tales that my parents brought into our house. And so, to play such an iconic character with a deep history is so beautiful,” said the part Middle Eastern actress.

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Director Lowery, in wanting to make a more current adaptation, said he especially focused on fixing the relationship between Tinkerbell and Wendy, played in this film by young actress Ever Gabo Anderson.
“I think when you look at the original film, that relationship (between Tinkerbell and Wendy) was, at best, reductive. We really wanted to go in a different direction and watch both of these characters grow and change one another,” he said.

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“I loved the relationship between Tink and Wendy in this adaptation of the film because I think they’re really allies together and they work together to listen to each other and really help each other out,” added Gabo Anderson. “So, I thought it was such a beautiful relationship and I’m sure something that Wendy would have cherished way beyond just their trip to Neverland.”
DUBAI: Sony Pictures this week released the first trailer for “The Equalizer 3,” starring French Tunisian actress Sonia Ben Ammar alongside lead stars Denzel Washington and Dakota Fanning.
The trailer was first presented by Sony on Monday night at CinemaCon, an annual four-day event in Las Vegas. On Tuesday, the trailer dropped on YouTube for fans.
The film, which will be in theaters on Sept. 1, is the third in an action series centered on Washington’s vigilante character Robert McCall.
Since giving up his life as a government assassin, McCall (Washington) has struggled to reconcile the horrific things he has done in the past and finds a strange solace in serving justice on behalf of the oppressed.
Finding himself surprisingly at home in southern Italy, he discovers his new friends are under the control of local crime bosses. As events turn deadly, McCall knows what he has to do: become his friends’ protector by taking on the mafia.
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Directed by Antoine Fuqua, the first film in the series was released in 2014 and earned more than $194 million worldwide, spurring a 2018 sequel that grossed over $190 million worldwide.
Ben Ammar, who plays a character called Chiara, is joining the cast which includes actors Eugenio Mastrandrea, Remo Girone, Daniele Perrone, Andrea Scarduzio, Andrea Dodero and Gaia Scodellaro.
The part-Arab star has joined the ever-growing list of rising Arab stars working their way up the ladder in Hollywood.
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The 23-year-old recently made her Hollywood debut in the fifth instalment of the “Scream” franchise, which hit theaters in 2022.
With French Tunisian heritage, Ben Ammar was the first Arab main character in a “Scream” film.
“I’m just really happy to be a part of it and represent my roots and I’m excited for people to watch it,” Ben Ammar previously told Arab News.
Although “Scream” marked Ben Ammar’s first high-profile Hollywood gig, it is not the Paris-born actress’ first foray into the film industry.
Ben Ammar, who is the daughter of Tunisian film director Tarek Ben Ammar — the executive producer of “The Equalizer 3” — and Polish-born actress Beata, previously starred in Guillaume Canet’s French-language film “Jappeloup,” as well as the stage musical “1789: Les Amants de la Bastille.”
LONDON:An auction of almost 100 works of Middle Eastern art from Abdulrahman Al-Zayani, one of the region’s leading collectors, on Tuesday sold for nearly $2.9 million at Sotheby’s London.
Titled “Testimony of a Journey: The Al-Zayani Collection,” the collection featured an eclectic mix of themes, mediums, and aesthetics produced over the last century by artists from Egypt, Turkiye, Lebanon, Iran, Iraq, Syria, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and North Africa.
In a statement, the Al-Zayani family said: “As we open the doors to our collection, the overarching sense is that these pieces were acquired with love, and we are excited for them to go to new homes where they will be discovered and appreciated anew.”
Prior to the live auction, the entire collection was showcased by Sotheby’s from April 20 to 25 at London galleries as part of its Islamic, South Asian, and Middle Eastern week.
The pieces had been expected to fetch around $1.4 million in the auction but were sold for more than double the pre-auction estimates.
The five-day exhibition also presented highlights from four auctions of sought-after works from across centuries and continents.
During the collection’s private viewing on Sunday, all eyes were on “41 Kere (41 Times) (41 works)” by Ardan Ozmenoglu. The colorful light installation reiterates the Turkish loanword of Masha-Allah, an Arabic expression commonly used to convey praise or appreciation of beauty.
However, the Al-Zayani collection shined brightly both as individual pieces as well as a cohesive ensemble assembled on the gallery walls. It is further amplified by works from the 20th-century art, Middle East auction in the room next door.
The curated selection displayed a breadth of creativity from the time period, including modern Iranian art, contemporary paintings by female artists, and a mixed media work by Moroccan Hassan Hajjaj.
According to Sotheby’s, the sale is led by an important painting by Aref El-Rayess from his iconic desert series produced while he was living in Jeddah.
Meanwhile, the schism between East and West is bridged in Sotheby’s Orientalist sale. It included 19th- and early 20th-century paintings of North Africa, the Levant, Arabia, and the Ottoman world by renowned artists such as Rudolf Ernst, Frederick Arthur Bridgman, and Jean-Leon Gerome.
The auction house said: “The beautiful and intriguing architecture and landscapes appealed to the Western market for many decades.”
From depictions of historical landmarks, such as Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem, to representations of bustling marketplaces in Tashkent, the art serves as a valuable historical record of the region.
And chronicling back as early as 1861, the “Arts of the Islamic World and India” auction exhibited a variety of rare artifacts including an important Mamluk genealogical scroll, and a monumental Kufic Qur’an leaf.


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