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Egypt dusts off pyramids for fashion, pop and art shows

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Egypt is using the ancient grandeur of its pyramids as a backdrop for modern pop concerts and fashion shows, hoping to boost its image, tourism and the luxury brand sector beloved by its moneyed elite.

French fashion house Dior debuted its latest collection Saturday at the Giza pyramids, after Italian designer Stefano Ricci held a show at Luxor’s dramatic Temple of Hatshepsut in October.

Dior CEO Pietro Beccari told AFP the fashion house chose the pyramids as far more than “just a useless background”, drawing on Egyptian astrology for the collection named “Celestial”.

Before that, American pop bands Maroon 5 and the Black Eyed Peas performed at the Giza Necropolis, where contemporary art was also recently shown at the latest Art d’Egypte exhibition.

The modern cultural push is a new direction for Egypt’s image.

Long a cultural powerhouse in the Arab world, with wildly popular singers and movie stars especially in its heyday in the 1950s-70s, Egypt has set its sights on its ancient heritage to attract the global spotlight once more.

A harbinger of the new embrace of ancient culture and history was a “golden parade” last year of 22 pharaohs that crossed Cairo from an old to a new museum in a carnival-style grand spectacle.

It was part of a push by President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi’s government to revive tourism, which accounts for 10 percent of GDP and some two million jobs but has been hammered by political unrest, economic upheaval and the COVID pandemic.

The modern cultural push is a new direction for Egypt's image. Photo: AFP

The modern cultural push is a new direction for Egypt’s image. Photo: AFP

‘Vital’ glamour

Showcasing Egypt’s heritage in a new context “will encourage other brands and international cultural figures to come to Egypt,” said art historian Bahia Shehab.

Fashion photographer Mohsen Othman agreed that such glamorous events are “vital”.

Big brands like Dior “come in with a huge budget,” employ local talent and “support young creators who can put Egypt on the global fashion map”.

Iman Eldeeb, whose agency cast two Egyptian models for Saturday’s show, told AFP it was a “long-awaited step for the fashion world in Egypt”.

Egypt’s luxury goods sector has grown despite years of economic turmoil that saw the pound lose half its value in a 2016 currency devaluation.

Despite the downturn, Egypt, the Arab world’s most populous country, is home to 86,000 millionaires, according to the bank Credit Suisse.

“The richest one percent are enough to create demand,” said public relations specialist Ingy Ismail, who advises luxury brands.

The boutiques in the shopping centres of Cairo’s chic new satellite cities, she said, are “up to the standards of international luxury brands”.

Egypt's luxury goods sector has grown despite years of economic turmoil that saw the pound lose half its value in a 2016 currency devaluation. Photo: AFP

Egypt’s luxury goods sector has grown despite years of economic turmoil that saw the pound lose half its value in a 2016 currency devaluation. Photo: AFP

‘Young creative talent’

Egypt’s bubble of super rich has helped create a home-grown fashion design scene whose pioneers have recently ventured onto the catwalks of Milan and Paris.

At this year’s Paris Fashion Week, Cairo-based luxury brand Okhtein showed a resin-made bustier that evoked Egyptian alabaster at French fashion house Balmain’s show.

It was a rare success story for Egypt’s creative sector, where “most people are self-taught, working hard with scarce resources to try and meet international standards,” said Othman, the photographer.

Ismail said the country’s luxury clothing and jewellery market “has gone from under 100 Egyptian brands to more than 1,000 today”, fuelled by “a huge pool of young creative talent”.

International events offer rare exposure, but getting them to the country is still a challenge.

“It is a big step for the government to authorise Art d’Egypte and Dior to organise events at the foot of the pyramids,” the art show’s curator, Nadine Abdel Ghaffar, told AFP.

Red tape and tight restrictions can still get in the way, she suggested, conceding that “the legislative framework is complicated”.

Showcasing Egypt's heritage in a new context 'will encourage other brands and international cultural figures to come to Egypt,' said art historian Bahia Shehab. Photo: AFP

Showcasing Egypt’s heritage in a new context ‘will encourage other brands and international cultural figures to come to Egypt,’ said art historian Bahia Shehab. Photo: AFP

Timeless marvels

But “promoting the country’s culture” must be a priority, added Abdel Ghaffar, who believes a dedicated government body could better promote exhibitions, concerts, shows and even film production.

Shehab, the art historian, said many realise that Egypt, known for its timeless architectural marvels in the desert, needs to project an updated image of itself.

“There’s more and more awareness about the need for soft power and for culture as a representation for the country,” she said, cautioning however that Egypt still requires “better infrastructure” to make this happen.

She even dared dream that Egypt could draw in Hollywood productions, if it only starts granting permits.

“We have lost count of the number of international productions that have resorted to shooting in Morocco, Jordan or Saudi Arabia,” she said.

The latest Egypt-themed production was a Disney+ TV miniseries, Marvel Comics’ “Moon Knight,” for which two entire Cairo city blocks were built from scratch — on a set in Budapest.

Long a cultural powerhouse in the Arab world, with wildly popular singers and movie stars especially in its heyday in the 1950s-70s, Egypt has set its sights on its ancient heritage to attract the global spotlight once more. Photo: AFP

Long a cultural powerhouse in the Arab world, with wildly popular singers and movie stars especially in its heyday in the 1950s-70s, Egypt has set its sights on its ancient heritage to attract the global spotlight once more. Photo: AFP

Egypt is using the ancient grandeur of its pyramids as a backdrop for modern pop concerts and fashion shows, hoping to boost its image, tourism and the luxury brand sector beloved by its moneyed elite.

French fashion house Dior debuted its latest collection Saturday at the Giza pyramids, after Italian designer Stefano Ricci held a show at Luxor’s dramatic Temple of Hatshepsut in October.

Dior CEO Pietro Beccari told AFP the fashion house chose the pyramids as far more than “just a useless background”, drawing on Egyptian astrology for the collection named “Celestial”.

Before that, American pop bands Maroon 5 and the Black Eyed Peas performed at the Giza Necropolis, where contemporary art was also recently shown at the latest Art d’Egypte exhibition.

The modern cultural push is a new direction for Egypt’s image.

Long a cultural powerhouse in the Arab world, with wildly popular singers and movie stars especially in its heyday in the 1950s-70s, Egypt has set its sights on its ancient heritage to attract the global spotlight once more.

A harbinger of the new embrace of ancient culture and history was a “golden parade” last year of 22 pharaohs that crossed Cairo from an old to a new museum in a carnival-style grand spectacle.

It was part of a push by President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi’s government to revive tourism, which accounts for 10 percent of GDP and some two million jobs but has been hammered by political unrest, economic upheaval and the COVID pandemic.

The modern cultural push is a new direction for Egypt's image. Photo: AFP

The modern cultural push is a new direction for Egypt’s image. Photo: AFP

‘Vital’ glamour

Showcasing Egypt’s heritage in a new context “will encourage other brands and international cultural figures to come to Egypt,” said art historian Bahia Shehab.

Fashion photographer Mohsen Othman agreed that such glamorous events are “vital”.

Big brands like Dior “come in with a huge budget,” employ local talent and “support young creators who can put Egypt on the global fashion map”.

Iman Eldeeb, whose agency cast two Egyptian models for Saturday’s show, told AFP it was a “long-awaited step for the fashion world in Egypt”.

Egypt’s luxury goods sector has grown despite years of economic turmoil that saw the pound lose half its value in a 2016 currency devaluation.

Despite the downturn, Egypt, the Arab world’s most populous country, is home to 86,000 millionaires, according to the bank Credit Suisse.

“The richest one percent are enough to create demand,” said public relations specialist Ingy Ismail, who advises luxury brands.

The boutiques in the shopping centres of Cairo’s chic new satellite cities, she said, are “up to the standards of international luxury brands”.

Egypt's luxury goods sector has grown despite years of economic turmoil that saw the pound lose half its value in a 2016 currency devaluation. Photo: AFP

Egypt’s luxury goods sector has grown despite years of economic turmoil that saw the pound lose half its value in a 2016 currency devaluation. Photo: AFP

‘Young creative talent’

Egypt’s bubble of super rich has helped create a home-grown fashion design scene whose pioneers have recently ventured onto the catwalks of Milan and Paris.

At this year’s Paris Fashion Week, Cairo-based luxury brand Okhtein showed a resin-made bustier that evoked Egyptian alabaster at French fashion house Balmain’s show.

It was a rare success story for Egypt’s creative sector, where “most people are self-taught, working hard with scarce resources to try and meet international standards,” said Othman, the photographer.

Ismail said the country’s luxury clothing and jewellery market “has gone from under 100 Egyptian brands to more than 1,000 today”, fuelled by “a huge pool of young creative talent”.

International events offer rare exposure, but getting them to the country is still a challenge.

“It is a big step for the government to authorise Art d’Egypte and Dior to organise events at the foot of the pyramids,” the art show’s curator, Nadine Abdel Ghaffar, told AFP.

Red tape and tight restrictions can still get in the way, she suggested, conceding that “the legislative framework is complicated”.

Showcasing Egypt's heritage in a new context 'will encourage other brands and international cultural figures to come to Egypt,' said art historian Bahia Shehab. Photo: AFP

Showcasing Egypt’s heritage in a new context ‘will encourage other brands and international cultural figures to come to Egypt,’ said art historian Bahia Shehab. Photo: AFP

Timeless marvels

But “promoting the country’s culture” must be a priority, added Abdel Ghaffar, who believes a dedicated government body could better promote exhibitions, concerts, shows and even film production.

Shehab, the art historian, said many realise that Egypt, known for its timeless architectural marvels in the desert, needs to project an updated image of itself.

“There’s more and more awareness about the need for soft power and for culture as a representation for the country,” she said, cautioning however that Egypt still requires “better infrastructure” to make this happen.

She even dared dream that Egypt could draw in Hollywood productions, if it only starts granting permits.

“We have lost count of the number of international productions that have resorted to shooting in Morocco, Jordan or Saudi Arabia,” she said.

The latest Egypt-themed production was a Disney+ TV miniseries, Marvel Comics’ “Moon Knight,” for which two entire Cairo city blocks were built from scratch — on a set in Budapest.

Long a cultural powerhouse in the Arab world, with wildly popular singers and movie stars especially in its heyday in the 1950s-70s, Egypt has set its sights on its ancient heritage to attract the global spotlight once more. Photo: AFP

Long a cultural powerhouse in the Arab world, with wildly popular singers and movie stars especially in its heyday in the 1950s-70s, Egypt has set its sights on its ancient heritage to attract the global spotlight once more. Photo: AFP

Source: https://tuoitrenews.vn/news/international/20221205/egypt-dusts-off-pyramids-for-fashion-pop-and-art-shows/70343.html

International

Thai cadets break world record with mass martial arts ritual

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Thousands of Thai army cadets, university students and a handful of volunteers performed a record-breaking Muay Thai “wai khru” ceremony on Monday, all under the watchful eyes of six massive statues of former kings.

The sunset gathering in Hua Hin, part of a Muay Thai Festival in the seaside resort town, broke the previous Guinness World Record of 250 by having 3,660 participants simultaneously performing the traditional pre-match dance of respect for their coach.

The sun had baked the sheets of concrete hot as the barefoot performers — organised by the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT), the Royal Thai Army, and the culture and sport ministries — filed onto the parade ground at Rajabhakti Park in front of Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-Cha.

Dressed in red uniforms with white Mongkhon headbands, as well as white Muay Kard Chuek ropes — the hemp wrappings fighters wore before gloves — the phalanx of men moved in near perfect unison to the directions of famed Muay Thai fighter Sombat “Buakaw” Banchamek.

“Congratulations, you’re officially amazing,” said the official Guinness adjudicator, confirming the record had been broken.

“I feel really proud,” said 27-year-old performer Phukrit Purimchaithanat, adding he and his fellow-cadets were glad they had pulled it off after months of preparations.

A mix of bemused locals and tourists passing through the popular resort watched the spectacle from a few rickety metal bleachers, gathering around the sides of the fenced area as a loudspeaker blared.

“It’s stunning, it’s crazy, also in front of the kings and everything,” said Hua Hin resident Siena Cruz, 32, as she enjoyed the show with friends.

“The visual is something connected to the tradition,” she said, noting how integral the pre-match ritual was to the sport.

“To be part of another bit of history for Thailand, it’s bragging rights,” she said of the Guinness record.

“I like to watch, but boxing is scary,” said June Rubyung, who had taken her grandson to watch the performance.

The 50-year-old Hua Hin local, who lives close to the army grounds where they performed, said she knew the army cadets had been practising for a month.

“I think they’re good,” she said, “they do it the correct way.”

Thousands of Thai army cadets, university students and a handful of volunteers performed a record-breaking Muay Thai “wai khru” ceremony on Monday, all under the watchful eyes of six massive statues of former kings.

The sunset gathering in Hua Hin, part of a Muay Thai Festival in the seaside resort town, broke the previous Guinness World Record of 250 by having 3,660 participants simultaneously performing the traditional pre-match dance of respect for their coach.

The sun had baked the sheets of concrete hot as the barefoot performers — organised by the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT), the Royal Thai Army, and the culture and sport ministries — filed onto the parade ground at Rajabhakti Park in front of Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-Cha.

Dressed in red uniforms with white Mongkhon headbands, as well as white Muay Kard Chuek ropes — the hemp wrappings fighters wore before gloves — the phalanx of men moved in near perfect unison to the directions of famed Muay Thai fighter Sombat “Buakaw” Banchamek.

“Congratulations, you’re officially amazing,” said the official Guinness adjudicator, confirming the record had been broken.

“I feel really proud,” said 27-year-old performer Phukrit Purimchaithanat, adding he and his fellow-cadets were glad they had pulled it off after months of preparations.

A mix of bemused locals and tourists passing through the popular resort watched the spectacle from a few rickety metal bleachers, gathering around the sides of the fenced area as a loudspeaker blared.

“It’s stunning, it’s crazy, also in front of the kings and everything,” said Hua Hin resident Siena Cruz, 32, as she enjoyed the show with friends.

“The visual is something connected to the tradition,” she said, noting how integral the pre-match ritual was to the sport.

“To be part of another bit of history for Thailand, it’s bragging rights,” she said of the Guinness record.

“I like to watch, but boxing is scary,” said June Rubyung, who had taken her grandson to watch the performance.

The 50-year-old Hua Hin local, who lives close to the army grounds where they performed, said she knew the army cadets had been practising for a month.

“I think they’re good,” she said, “they do it the correct way.”

Source: https://tuoitrenews.vn/news/international/20230207/thai-cadets-break-world-record-with-mass-martial-arts-ritual/71375.html

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2 Vietnamese fishermen missing off S.Korean coast after shipwreck

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The South Korean Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries announced that a fishing boat capsized off the coast of Sinan County in Jeonnam Province, leaving nine out of its 12 crew members missing, including two Vietnamese citizens, according to the Vietnamese Embassy in South Korea.

The South Korean side discovered four bodies whose nationalities were unidentified on Monday, two days after the incident happened. 

The search is still ongoing.

The Vietnamese Embassy in South Korea contacted the families of the two missing Vietnamese citizens to inform them of the situation.

The embassy is actively working with competent South Korean agencies to promptly conduct necessary citizen protection measures.

Local authorities are currently providing assistance to the missing fishermen’s families.

Earlier, Yonhap news agency reported that the shipwreck occurred at 11:19 pm on Saturday. 

Authorities said the 24-metric-ton fishing boat capsized off the southwestern coast of South Korea, 16.6km from the uninhabited island of Daebichi that lies some 20km from the southwestern county of Sinan.

The sinking left nine of the 12 people, including three foreign nationals, on board the ship missing, while the other three were rescued by another boat at the scene.

The cause of the accident has not been announced.

Like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter to get the latest news about Vietnam!

The South Korean Ministry of Oceans and Fisheries announced that a fishing boat capsized off the coast of Sinan County in Jeonnam Province, leaving nine out of its 12 crew members missing, including two Vietnamese citizens, according to the Vietnamese Embassy in South Korea.

The South Korean side discovered four bodies whose nationalities were unidentified on Monday, two days after the incident happened. 

The search is still ongoing.

The Vietnamese Embassy in South Korea contacted the families of the two missing Vietnamese citizens to inform them of the situation.

The embassy is actively working with competent South Korean agencies to promptly conduct necessary citizen protection measures.

Local authorities are currently providing assistance to the missing fishermen’s families.

Earlier, Yonhap news agency reported that the shipwreck occurred at 11:19 pm on Saturday. 

Authorities said the 24-metric-ton fishing boat capsized off the southwestern coast of South Korea, 16.6km from the uninhabited island of Daebichi that lies some 20km from the southwestern county of Sinan.

The sinking left nine of the 12 people, including three foreign nationals, on board the ship missing, while the other three were rescued by another boat at the scene.

The cause of the accident has not been announced.

Like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter to get the latest news about Vietnam!

Source: https://tuoitrenews.vn/news/international/20230207/2-vietnamese-fishermen-missing-off-skorean-coast-after-shipwreck/71372.html

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Derailed train cars in Ohio drained of toxic chemical amid mass evacuation

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Nearly 2,000 residents of eastern Ohio remained under evacuation orders on Monday as railroad crews drained and burned off a toxic chemical from five tanker cars of a freight train that derailed in a fiery wreck three days earlier, officials said.

The venting of pressurized vinyl chloride, a highly flammable and carcinogenic gas, began with a single explosion, as was anticipated, followed by a steady incineration of the remaining cargo, said Sandy Mackey, a spokesperson for the Ohio Emergency Management Agency.

“That controlled release was the one explosion,” she told Reuters by telephone. “It went as planned. It seemed to be a successful incident.”

No injuries were reported, either from Monday’s operation or the accident on Friday night, authorities said.

Live video on Monday showed a towering column of thick, black smoke rising from the accident site in East Palestine, Ohio, a town close to the Pennsylvania border northwest of Pittsburgh.

The train, operated by Norfolk Southern Railroad and consisting of three locomotives and 150 freight cars, was headed from Illinois to Pennsylvania when it derailed shortly before 9 p.m. EST on Friday, setting off a massive fire that forced the evacuation of hundreds of homes in the immediate vicinity.

About 50 cars actually left the tracks, 20 of which carried hazardous materials, according to the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB).

Public safety concerns deepened after the railroad said pressure-relief devices on some tankers were found on Sunday to have stopped working, which the company said could “result in a catastrophic failure.”

Ohio Governor Mike DeWine said in a statement the chemical contents of the five rail cars in question were “unstable and could potentially explode, causing deadly disbursement of shrapnel and toxic fumes.”

Working with state and local emergency officials, Norfolk Southern said on Monday it devised a plan to manually vent the cars, allowing the contents to “be drained in a controlled fashion” under supervision of “experts and first responders.”

Drone footage shows the freight train derailment in East Palestine, Ohio, U.S., February 6, 2023 in this screengrab obtained from a handout video released by the NTSB. Photo: NTSBGov/Handout via REUTERS

Drone footage shows the freight train derailment in East Palestine, Ohio, U.S., February 6, 2023 in this screengrab obtained from a handout video released by the NTSB. Photo: NTSBGov/Handout via REUTERS

As part of the plan, DeWine and Pennsylvania Governor Josh Shapiro ordered evacuations expanded on Monday to encompass all homes within a 1- to 2-mile area around the derailment site on both sides of the state line.

Peggy Clark, a spokesperson for the Columbiana County Emergency Management Agency, said the mandatory evacuation covered an estimated 1,900 people on the Ohio side alone.

DeWine’s office warned that fumes released into the air from the venting operation could be deadly if inhaled, while also posing the risk of skin burns and serious lung damage.

Vinyl chloride is a colorless, industrially produced gas that burns easily and is used primarily in the manufacture of polyvinyl chloride (PVC) pipe and other products, according to the National Cancer Institute. It also is a byproduct of cigarette smoke.

The precise means by which crews vented the gas was not explained. But the railroad said workers had prepared drainage pits and embankments, apparently to contain residue from the release. State environmental officials monitored air quality, it said.

Nearly two hours after the operation began, the company said the “controlled breach” had been “completed successfully.”

The cause of the derailment was under investigation by the NTSB, but board member Michael Graham said on Sunday that video footage of the accident pointed to possible “mechanical issues on one of the rail car axles.”

Nearly 2,000 residents of eastern Ohio remained under evacuation orders on Monday as railroad crews drained and burned off a toxic chemical from five tanker cars of a freight train that derailed in a fiery wreck three days earlier, officials said.

The venting of pressurized vinyl chloride, a highly flammable and carcinogenic gas, began with a single explosion, as was anticipated, followed by a steady incineration of the remaining cargo, said Sandy Mackey, a spokesperson for the Ohio Emergency Management Agency.

“That controlled release was the one explosion,” she told Reuters by telephone. “It went as planned. It seemed to be a successful incident.”

No injuries were reported, either from Monday’s operation or the accident on Friday night, authorities said.

Live video on Monday showed a towering column of thick, black smoke rising from the accident site in East Palestine, Ohio, a town close to the Pennsylvania border northwest of Pittsburgh.

The train, operated by Norfolk Southern Railroad and consisting of three locomotives and 150 freight cars, was headed from Illinois to Pennsylvania when it derailed shortly before 9 p.m. EST on Friday, setting off a massive fire that forced the evacuation of hundreds of homes in the immediate vicinity.

About 50 cars actually left the tracks, 20 of which carried hazardous materials, according to the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB).

Public safety concerns deepened after the railroad said pressure-relief devices on some tankers were found on Sunday to have stopped working, which the company said could “result in a catastrophic failure.”

Ohio Governor Mike DeWine said in a statement the chemical contents of the five rail cars in question were “unstable and could potentially explode, causing deadly disbursement of shrapnel and toxic fumes.”

Working with state and local emergency officials, Norfolk Southern said on Monday it devised a plan to manually vent the cars, allowing the contents to “be drained in a controlled fashion” under supervision of “experts and first responders.”

Drone footage shows the freight train derailment in East Palestine, Ohio, U.S., February 6, 2023 in this screengrab obtained from a handout video released by the NTSB. Photo: NTSBGov/Handout via REUTERS

Drone footage shows the freight train derailment in East Palestine, Ohio, U.S., February 6, 2023 in this screengrab obtained from a handout video released by the NTSB. Photo: NTSBGov/Handout via REUTERS

As part of the plan, DeWine and Pennsylvania Governor Josh Shapiro ordered evacuations expanded on Monday to encompass all homes within a 1- to 2-mile area around the derailment site on both sides of the state line.

Peggy Clark, a spokesperson for the Columbiana County Emergency Management Agency, said the mandatory evacuation covered an estimated 1,900 people on the Ohio side alone.

DeWine’s office warned that fumes released into the air from the venting operation could be deadly if inhaled, while also posing the risk of skin burns and serious lung damage.

Vinyl chloride is a colorless, industrially produced gas that burns easily and is used primarily in the manufacture of polyvinyl chloride (PVC) pipe and other products, according to the National Cancer Institute. It also is a byproduct of cigarette smoke.

The precise means by which crews vented the gas was not explained. But the railroad said workers had prepared drainage pits and embankments, apparently to contain residue from the release. State environmental officials monitored air quality, it said.

Nearly two hours after the operation began, the company said the “controlled breach” had been “completed successfully.”

The cause of the derailment was under investigation by the NTSB, but board member Michael Graham said on Sunday that video footage of the accident pointed to possible “mechanical issues on one of the rail car axles.”

Source: https://tuoitrenews.vn/news/international/20230207/derailed-train-cars-in-ohio-drained-of-toxic-chemical-amid-mass-evacuation/71371.html

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