The wait for the long anticipated Disney’s live-action remake Aladdin is finally over, as the movie premiers starting today at all cinemas in Egypt, and we can’t wait for you to embark on this magical adventure.
However, the Hollywood movie is struggling to avoid any ethnic stereotyping, because having the movie shot in an Arab kingdom can surely raise some questions at times.
The 1992 animation had been criticized severally, for the way it portrayed Arabs as thieves, and the poverty and injustice that were apparent in the Arabian Kingdom.
“Aladdin is not an entertaining Arabian Nights fantasy as film critics would have us believe,” wrote Jack Shaheen in 1992, then a professor of mass communications at Southern Illinois University, “but rather a painful reminder to 3 million Americans of Arab heritage, as well as 300 million Arabs and others, that the abhorrent Arab stereotype is as ubiquitous as Aladdin’s lamp.”
In bringing the world of Aladdin to live-action, Disney and director Guy Ritchie had several points to tackle, starting with finding the right Genie to finding lead actors to play Aladdin and Jasmine, and building the world of Agrabah, all while still maintaining a positive image of the Arab Wold.
It is fair to say that this copy is some sort of a remedy to what the 1992 version had caused, the movie is aiming at delivering a positive image while still maintaining the essence of the story.
For starters, the cast are brown-skinned actors, Egyptian-Canadian Mena Massoud brings the requisite roguish charm to Aladdin himself and Jasmine is played by Naomi Scott, a British actor of Indian descent.
Mena Massoud himself has been a ray of hope for this movie, with all the heartwarming posts that he has been sending our way, from sending his greetings, to getting the great oxford band Maqam to play a song for Abdel Halim Hafez.
“People of Egypt, hello! I am so excited for you to watch Disney’s production, Aladdin. I am proud to be part of the film and I hope you’ll like and enjoy it just as much as I enjoyed myself while filming it,” the actor said.
— Mena Massoud (@MenaMassoud) May 19, 2019
— Mena Massoud (@MenaMassoud) May 21, 2019
Now with the efforts that they are exerting to refute the opinions that were developed over the years, will they successfully fix the trust that was once broken?
Well, only one way to find out, and that is to watch the long-awaited movie.
Stay tuned for our review of the movie.
Biota: The Safe Haven You longed for it to Reopen
A while ago, Cairo residents lost one of their favorite places when both Seqouia and Left Bank shut down, which housed most our memories and was a safe haven to many. We then waited eagerly for another place to take over and replace our memories with new ones and a few months back, our patience was rewarded when we were greeted with the replacement, Biota. It was after all, the location itself that we held very dearly and Biota certainly didn’t disappoint and met our high expectations.
After visiting the place, we had several questions spiraling through our minds and luckily we got the chance of interviewing the man behind it all and getting to know how he managed , at a young age, to replace a beautiful place with an even more mesmerizing one.
Here is what Omar Salem, the managing director, had to say about his success!
We started by asking the obvious which is how he was able to start off such a successful business, turns out it’s a family business that he was part of since 2015 when they started off with a branch in North Sahel and then started their expansion in Cairo. Explains his wide knowledge and experience in managing such a huge FMCG entity!
We have all wondered how he was able to attain the complex from Seqouia and Left Bank, to which he explained that one day while passing by the place, he saw that the place is going up for an auction following the end of their contact and that’s when he decided, ‘why not.’
At the time, he didn’t have a plan on what he was going to do with the place if he gets it but one thing he knew for sure was that he wanted to create a complex, which turned out to quite nice.
We were also lucky to have had an exclusive tour of the kitchen, let me tell you it wasn’t easy being around all these mouthwatering plates, Salem escorted us himself and told us that everything even the meat is done there to be under their watch and supervision.
When we asked him about his vision of the place, Salem told us: ‘I wanted the resemblance of having a good location along with the proper hospitality and this is what we try to do here.’
We then asked him about the concept of Biota and how he sees the place, ‘I want the people to come to Biota and have the chance to spend a full day, that’s why we also have fitness, beauty, art and fashion.’ Yes people, Biota just opened a beauty salon and they still have a lot in store for you in terms of delivering you with a full service complex that keeps up with your lifestyle.
‘These are the other elements added on to Biota that makes it something else, and not just a restaurant, but a full complex where people can find everything they need.’ Amen to that!
In terms of how he manages the complex, Salem further tells us that he aspires to make people feel like home, in any place that he runs, he makes sure to hire the friendliest staff, give them proper training, invest in them, all of which will eventually result in making everyone happy.
Biota certainly made it up for us and I, personally, can’t wait to create brand new memories in a place that already feels familiar and warm.
First Arabic Series ‘Jinn’ Causing Controversy in Jordan
Jinn, the first Arabic series on Netflix has caused wide controversy in Jordan due to some of the inappropriate scenes of the show, that caused them to be charged of being immoral.
The Jordanian general prosecutor has issued a decision to stop the screening of Jinn. Netflix MENA response which they have tweeted through their official account is that they stand strongly against all abusive acts that the cast has been facing.
They further explained that their intention was to spread variety in the shows screened and to provide a safe environment for movie lovers.
تابعنا بكل أسف موجة التنّمر الحالية ضد الممثلين وطاقم العمل في مسلسل جِنّ ونعلن أننا لن نتهاون مع أي من هذه التصرفات والألفاظ الجارحة لطاقم العمل. موقفنا لطالما كان متمركزاً حول قيم التنوّع والشمولية ولذلك نحن نعمل على توفير مساحة آمنة لكل محبّي المسلسلات والأفلام حول المنطقة.
— Netflix MENA (@NetflixMENA) June 14, 2019
On the other hand, the Royal Film Commission in Jordan released a statement concerning the allegations, explaning that its role is to encourage local production as well as freedom of speech and that it has no control over the script or the content of the show.
The statement also highlighted that people are always demanding to have more freedom and personal choices, but when faced with a situation like this one, they automatically go insane and forget about their previous demands.
— RoyalFilmCommission (@FilmJordan) June 14, 2019
و يجب ان اشكر #الهيئة_الملكية_الأردنية_للأفلام @FilmJordan التي على الاقل لم تنافق احدا و ذكرت الناس بأهمية الحريات الشخصية و كما احيي شركة @NetflixMENA و اتمنى ان لا تستسلم لقوى الرجعية و الظلام التي لن يرضيها سوى ما تفعله داعش في الناس.
— Alaa (@Alaa99562458) June 15, 2019
Opinions regarding the show still vary but one thing that shouldn’t be denied is that the show is indeed impressive, so far I have watched a couple of episodes and allow me to say this, the quality and production of the series is undeniably good.
Here is what some people had to say about nevertheless…
I’m so pissed over the overly sexualized and slut shaming misogynistic comments salma (or mira from jinn) is getting. Why of course, isn’t that what arabs are best at? romanticizing abuse and slut shaming girls? Walkom 3eib
— karam (@itsmekaram) June 13, 2019
— Mohanad ⁉️ (@mohanadxoxo) June 13, 2019
While there are some angry tweets, other teenagers are spiraling through social media saying that they are actually proud to be witnessing such a show actually portraying real life. Others are impressed with the girl power shown on the show, and that they would rather watch a controversial show than watch others that portray women as weak and abused.
As for the first ever Arabic Netflix Original Series, Jinn is pretty good. Stop bantering about it having some cheesy scenes. All series do, get over it. The story itself was pretty fascinating, action-packed and suspenseful. Would definitely recommend it.
— Ali Khair (@AliKhair77) June 13, 2019
I'd rather see all the shitty stuff you're talking about in Jinn than see women being abused and hit and mistreated in the Arab shows that you guys worship.
— Leen Ismail (@leen_ismail) June 14, 2019
jinn is literally a show representing life in amman, thats why people are irritated
— Karam Qaddoumi (@QaddoumiKaram) June 13, 2019
It’s yet to be seen if there will be a formal reaction from the government but so far Netflix is standing behind the writers and the cast.
Zay el Shams: Our Own Theories on Who and Why Killed Farida?
People on social media are taking the Farida case way too seriously, seeing how assumptions are flooding the social media and surprisingly, they are being made based on what appears to be a thorough analysis of each character!
Theories of how the show will end are also taking part of daily discussions, and it looks like people will remain restless until the truth is unveiled.
The thing is each and every person has solid, valid point of view. Like I said, they are truly based on thorough analysis and logical justification.
You have said yours, it is time we lay out ours!
Now the obvious suspect is Omar, which is exactly why, we are not suspecting him. Because why choose to end the series in an obvious way! Unless that is the point, that the answer has always been right in front of us, clear as daylight?
And honestly, he does have all the motives, what with the children’s custody case, and the many scenes that shows his hatred towards Farida.
All the events happening now, are leading us to believe it’s Omar, which again is making us highly doubt such an expected ending. Or not, no one knows…
My very own theory is quite the twisted one, because I’m pointing my finger towards Nour! And yes, she was in London at the time (supposedly), and she is her sister… But who knows? Maybe it was accidental, maybe she didn’t kill her on purpose. Remember the first episode when the statue of the two sisters broke? Also, as I said before, the character development of Nour is very disappointing, and that’s why, I’m not buying it!
I’m not buying the whole, strong independent falling back in the arms of her ex cheating fiance, especially in a time where her nephews and niece need her the most. So, my theory is, not only did she do it, but she is also trying to frame Omar for it. Hence, she took his case.
Told you it was quite the complex, twisted theory!
3- The Lawyer
Gamal Soliman appeared before, but he didn’t get us suspicious until his wife appeared to be pretty mad about Nour’s phone call. Also, from the memories of Farida, it looks like he wanted to be more than just her lawyer and let’s all admit it, it was creepy and perverted!
My theory regarding this is that he might have physically harassed Farida, and being the courageous woman that she is, she threatened to tell and ruin his career, and oh well, you know the drill!
Here’s why I don’t think he did it! I believe that Seif really is sick, a sick person madly in love with Farida. And even if he did it, my theory is that he will be in a full denial that he killed the love of his life.
5- The Doctor
Just yesterday, we found out that Farida has had a crush on him, to which he didn’t respond to her. But that is what he is saying! And maybe, Farida couldn’t accept the idea of a man rejecting her, and did something very stupid.
Something very stupid, that triggered him to kill her.
At the end of the day, it looks like we will have to just wait and watch…
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