Extra Extra: The Controversial Casting of ‘Cleopatra’ – and More

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Photo: Courtesy of @gal_gadot

We get it. We can barely keep up with the onslaught of information ourselves. That being said, it’s our mission to keep readers in the know, which is why we’ve combed through it all, distilled it to its essence, and dispensed it into easily digestible tidbits. Want to be the most knowledgeable culture savant in your group of friends? Then check back every Sunday for what you’ve missed in the world of culture, celebrities, and fashion.


Gal Gadot Lands Role of Cleopatra

Israeli actress, Gal Gadot, made famous for portraying the titular character in the new Wonder Woman movies, has undertaken a project to produce a film about one of ancient Egypt’s most famous and celebrated rulers: Cleopatra. However, the news of Gadot’s casting has come with extreme backlash on social media. This controversy emerges in the wake of criticisms over Hollywood’s continual ‘whitewashing’ – where they hire white actors to play non-white characters in movies – of their films and of cultural appropriation.

“Gal Gadot is a wonderful actress, but there is an entire pool of North African actresses to pick from. Stop whitewashing my history!” said a tweet last week after the news broke. However, Gadot’s fans were quick to jump to her defense by saying that Cleopatra was not Egyptian, but was the last queen of the Ptolemic era, thereby making her Greek.


John Legend Dedicates BMAs Performance to Chrissy — and the Whole World Cries

Recently, Chrissy Teigen took to her Instagram to share the harsh reality that she and her husband, John Legend, lost their third child, Jack, during a miscarriage. The family, normally quite active and positive on their social media accounts, were understandably silent as they went into mourning.

At last Thursday’s Billboard Music Awards, his first public appearance since they lost their baby-boy-to-be, Legend performed a soul-wrenching rendition of “Never Break” and dedicated the song to “Chrissy.” Later, he posted the video on his own Instagram with a letter for her where he expressed his appreciation, admiration, and awe for her, as well as thanking fans for all of their support during this time.


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This is for Chrissy. I love and cherish you and our family so much. We’ve experienced the highest highs and lowest lows together. Watching you carry our children has been so moving and humbling. I’m in awe of the strength you’ve shown through the most challenging moments. What an awesome gift it is to be able to bring life into the world. We’ve experienced the miracle, the power and joy of this gift, and now we’ve deeply felt its inherent fragility. I wrote this song because I have faith that as long as we walk this earth, we will hold each other’s hands through every tear, through every up and down, through every test. We promised each other this on our wedding day seven years ago, and every challenge we’ve faced has made that promise more powerful, more resilient. Our love will remain. We will never break. Thank you to everyone who has been sending us prayers and well wishes, flowers, cards, words of comfort and empathy. We feel and appreciate your love and support more than you know. More than anything, we’ve heard so many stories about how so many other families have experienced this pain, often suffering in silence. It’s a club no one wants to be a part of, but it’s comforting to know we’re not alone. I’m sure Chrissy will have much more to say about this when she’s ready. But just know we’re grateful and we’re sending love to all of you and your families.

A post shared by John Legend (@johnlegend) on


UAE Records Highest Number of COVID Cases

It is clear that we are in full swing of the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. Yesterdau, the UAE reported 1,538 new cases of coronavirus, which is the highest recorded number of new cases on an individual day, including during the first wave before the lockdown. The UAE has implemented strict measures for its residents and businesses, including mandatory usage of masks, social distancing requirements, minimizing gatherings, temperature checks, and hefty fines for violators. Some causes could be that as the weather has changed significantly (i.e. wonderful), people are emerging from their homes and getting out to enjoy the cooler weather.

Internationally, cases are going up as well as the second wave crashes over the world. Europe has tightened up travel entry for non-European citizens, England has imposed tighter quarantine requirements and is on the brink of a second lockdown, and as of yesterday, France put into effect new curfews, emptying the Parisian cafes and streets. The United States still continues to struggle with huge numbers, with some states following guidelines and other states going about business as usual.

Overall, even with the highest number of cases recorded on an individual day, we’ve got to say, it’s still a good day to be in the UAE.


Dubai Shopping Festival Starts Early

The Dubai Shopping Festival has moved up a week, to everyone’s delight. Last year, the festival went from December 26th to February 1st, but since the Ministry of Education announced last month that students could expect their winter break from December 13th to 31st this year, DSF decided to move the dates forward to December 17, 2020 to January 30, 2021 so that residents could “make the most of the school holidays.”

This means parents will have shopping destinations to take their children to while they are off from school instead of hanging around at home, and that there will be great deals just before Christmas. Looks like 2020 isn’t canceling Christmas after all.

gal gadot lands cleopatra
Photo: Courtesy of @dsfsocial

Snapchat vs. TikTok

Snapchat and TikTok have a bit of a friendly war going on, with each social media platform trying to outdo the other one. Their user base is similar, but their offerings are (slightly) different. Previously, TikTok videos were predominantly short clips set to music, while Snapchat videos were more like Instagram Stories, or what you might have seen on the now-defunct app, Vine. But this week, Snapchat announced that a new in-app connection to Spotify, Apple, and SoundCloud will enable its users to set their videos to music. Your serve, TikTok.


First Saudi Woman to Singlehandedly Earn a Guinness World Record

How much coffee do you drink? Well, probably not as much as Ohud Abdullah Almalki, the Saudi Arabian “Artist of the Nation” who just earned her place in the Guinness Book of World Records by creating the largest painting using coffee granules. The painting is situated in a neighborhood of Jeddah, and features seven prominent figures and rulers from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and their neighbors, the United Arab Emirates.

The artist used 4.5 kilograms of used coffee granules and took 45 days to finish the giant painting, which is spread over 220,968 sq. meters, and is called Naseej 1. Almalki says, “This tremendous feat would have been impossible without the support of the people around me. I wish this will contribute to empowering the women of Saudi Arabia and beyond.”

Extra Extra: The Controversial Casting of ‘Cleopatra’ – and More

Tumi Launches E-Commerce Site in Middle East

For the first time ever, TUMI, is launching an e-commerce site in the Middle East. Now customers in Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE can purchase their luxury luggage items– ironically– from the comfort of their own home. The new platform will optimize the shopping experience swiftly and efficiently with complimentary deliveries within 48 hours. Additionally, shoppers will receive all of the service that they would in store, including customization and personalization.

The brand’s top collections such as the 19 Degree Polycarbonate, the Devoe collection, the Alpha 3 collection, and seasonal favorites’ such as the ‘Voyageur in Blush Floral’ will also be available to purchase online.

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