Lebanese singer Yasmine Hamdan. Courtesy Vibe Series
Lebanese singer Yasmine Hamdan. Courtesy Vibe Series

It was not been an easy road, and it’s still not, says Lebanese singer Yasmine Hamdan



Yasmine Hamdan has spent her life running from conflict. Born in 1976, a year after the outbreak of the 15-year Lebanese Civil War, the underground music icon spent much of her adolescence away from her homeland, living in the UAE, Greece and Kuwait – a country her family fled following the 1990 invasion by Saddam Hussein’s Iraqi forces.

For 12 years, the Lebanese singer – who although she lived in Abu Dhabi and Al Ain when she was younger, makes her UAE performance debut in Dubai tomorrow – has lived in near-anonymity in Paris, deliberately stalking what she calls “the margins of society”.

But now that happy life, built alongside her fellow Arab emigree husband, Elia Suleiman – the celebrated Palestinian filmmaker behind Cannes award-winner Divine Intervention – is under threat, as France follows the United Kingdom and the United States into increasing levels of intolerance and populist rhetoric. A little over a year after the Bataclan terrorist attacks in the city, political commentators and analysts are beginning to view the spectre of Marine Le Pen's far-right National Front party as a serious force at the French presidential election in April.

“Things have changed – you feel anxiety in the air, tension,” says Hamdan, refusing to single Paris out in the growing global trend. “It’s worrying. I flew and escaped this kind of tension and drama my whole life and it seems it’s catching me wherever I go.”

Hamdan’s arrival in Paris signalled the end of the most engaging chapter in her career – the eight years she spent as one-half of Soap Kills, the trip-hop-influenced duo she fronted alongside intimate friend Zeid Hamdan, whose haunting, earthy electro-soundscapes first proved Arabic-language indie could be as effecting and inventive as anything produced in the West.

Inspired by the passionate articulation of classic-era vocalists such as Aisha El Marta, Nagat El Saghira and Asmahan, Hamdan’s breathy, intimate invocations – which formed Soapkills’s emotional core – were the sound of the singer rediscovering her homeland.

“I’m of the war generation,” says the 40-year-old. “I lived very much abroad – somehow I’ve always been searching for this place called ‘home’ – but after returning, I could not find it in Lebanon, I could not find it anywhere.

“I was addressing this identity question – roots, belonging, personality ... by singing in Arabic. But I never had the pretension, ambition or desire to sing Arabic the way it should be sung.”

Like countless musical revolutions before it, the Soap Kills legend has been largely written retrospectively. The early underground success of self-produced albums Beta (2001) and Cheftak (2002) led to international interest that never quite developed, including a French record deal that was shelved when the indie label went bankrupt.

“I remember the first time I heard the term ‘world music’ – I felt insulted,” recalls Hamdan. “Me and Zeid came to Paris and started meeting labels. They said: ‘We don’t know where to put you. You’re not world music, but you’re not singing in English or French – you’re strange’.”

After initially trying to maintain the musical relationship across two continents, Soapkills dissolved following 2005's swansong Enta Fen, a mix of new leftover material and remixes.

“I didn’t have the stamina,” Hamdan admits. “I wanted to pursue my own thing – I had desires, ideas I wanted to accomplish, and I needed to be on my own for that.”

It is always lazy to define leading women by the men they work with – but it’s undeniable Hamdan’s two post-Soapkills releases were inspired by the same collaborative principles.

The first, Y.A.S., was spawned following a chance meeting at a "Madonna party" no less – with Mirwais, the Parisian producer who helped the Queen of Pop's sound on albums Music, American Life and Confessions on a Dance Floor. Designed as a rebuke to media stereotypes, the duet LP Arabology was clearly far less collaborative than Hamdan might have hoped.

“I went from the most underground band in the world, to signing with Madonna’s producer and a record label that is extremely mainstream – it was interesting,” Hamdan says. “But I can’t say the record is my record.

“After my experience with Marwais, I realised I needed to be in environment where I’m an equal, or if not, the boss.”

Such an equilibrium was found on Hamden's solo debut, released internationally as Ya Nass in 2013, which was co-written and producer by Marc Collin – best-known as co-founder of kooky French bossa nova covers act Nouvelle Vague (who also performed at Dubai's The Music Room in March). This time, the relationship was sympathetic, respectful and remarkably fruitful – Ya Nass is a diverse and mature set, capturing the emotional intensity of Soapkills's best work, but sympathetically spread over broader electronic and acoustic hues.

Next, Hamdan has gone down “the boss” route, recently wrapping months of gruelling sessions – at studios spread across Hoboken, New Jersey, Beirut, Paris and London – recording a follow-up LP set for release in March. She describes it as the toughest project she has undertaken yet.

“I’ve always had a sense that I am doing something very important, something vital,” she adds.

“It has not been an easy road, and it’s still not – some people are interested in getting things easily, I’ve always liked tough things. I set the bar very high, I’m very tough on myself. Me and myself, that’s where the tension comes in.”

• Yasmine Hamdan performs at The Music Room, Majestic Hotel Tower, on Wednesday, November 7 , advance tickets Dh220 online at www.platinumlist.net

rgarratt@thenational.ae

Tips to keep your car cool
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  • Avoid leather interiors as these absorb more heat
UJDA CHAMAN

Produced: Panorama Studios International

Directed: Abhishek Pathak

Cast: Sunny Singh, Maanvi Gagroo, Grusha Kapoor, Saurabh Shukla

Rating: 3.5 /5 stars

Profile of Tamatem

Date started: March 2013

Founder: Hussam Hammo

Based: Amman, Jordan

Employees: 55

Funding: $6m

Funders: Wamda Capital, Modern Electronics (part of Al Falaisah Group) and North Base Media

SPECS

Engine: Two-litre four-cylinder turbo
Power: 235hp
Torque: 350Nm
Transmission: Nine-speed automatic
Price: From Dh167,500 ($45,000)
On sale: Now

MANDOOB

Director: Ali Kalthami

Starring: Mohammed Dokhei, Sarah Taibah, Hajar Alshammari

Rating: 4/5

Confirmed bouts (more to be added)

Cory Sandhagen v Umar Nurmagomedov
Nick Diaz v Vicente Luque
Michael Chiesa v Tony Ferguson
Deiveson Figueiredo v Marlon Vera
Mackenzie Dern v Loopy Godinez

Tickets for the August 3 Fight Night, held in partnership with the Department of Culture and Tourism Abu Dhabi, went on sale earlier this month, through www.etihadarena.ae and www.ticketmaster.ae.

SPECS

Engine: 4-litre V8 twin-turbo
Power: 630hp
Torque: 850Nm
Transmission: 8-speed Tiptronic automatic
Price: From Dh599,000
On sale: Now

KEY DATES IN AMAZON'S HISTORY

July 5, 1994: Jeff Bezos founds Cadabra Inc, which would later be renamed to Amazon.com, because his lawyer misheard the name as 'cadaver'. In its earliest days, the bookstore operated out of a rented garage in Bellevue, Washington

July 16, 1995: Amazon formally opens as an online bookseller. Fluid Concepts and Creative Analogies: Computer Models of the Fundamental Mechanisms of Thought becomes the first item sold on Amazon

1997: Amazon goes public at $18 a share, which has grown about 1,000 per cent at present. Its highest closing price was $197.85 on June 27, 2024

1998: Amazon acquires IMDb, its first major acquisition. It also starts selling CDs and DVDs

2000: Amazon Marketplace opens, allowing people to sell items on the website

2002: Amazon forms what would become Amazon Web Services, opening the Amazon.com platform to all developers. The cloud unit would follow in 2006

2003: Amazon turns in an annual profit of $75 million, the first time it ended a year in the black

2005: Amazon Prime is introduced, its first-ever subscription service that offered US customers free two-day shipping for $79 a year

2006: Amazon Unbox is unveiled, the company's video service that would later morph into Amazon Instant Video and, ultimately, Amazon Video

2007: Amazon's first hardware product, the Kindle e-reader, is introduced; the Fire TV and Fire Phone would come in 2014. Grocery service Amazon Fresh is also started

2009: Amazon introduces Amazon Basics, its in-house label for a variety of products

2010: The foundations for Amazon Studios were laid. Its first original streaming content debuted in 2013

2011: The Amazon Appstore for Google's Android is launched. It is still unavailable on Apple's iOS

2014: The Amazon Echo is launched, a speaker that acts as a personal digital assistant powered by Alexa

2017: Amazon acquires Whole Foods for $13.7 billion, its biggest acquisition

2018: Amazon's market cap briefly crosses the $1 trillion mark, making it, at the time, only the third company to achieve that milestone

UAE v IRELAND

All matches start at 10am, and will be played in Abu Dhabi

1st ODI, Friday, January 8

2nd ODI, Sunday, January 10

3rd ODI, Tuesday, January 12

4th ODI, Thursday, January 14

Company Profile

Company name: Cargoz
Date started: January 2022
Founders: Premlal Pullisserry and Lijo Antony
Based: Dubai
Number of staff: 30
Investment stage: Seed

UAE currency: the story behind the money in your pockets
EMIRATES'S REVISED A350 DEPLOYMENT SCHEDULE

Edinburgh: November 4 (unchanged)

Bahrain: November 15 (from September 15); second daily service from January 1

Kuwait: November 15 (from September 16)

Mumbai: January 1 (from October 27)

Ahmedabad: January 1 (from October 27)

Colombo: January 2 (from January 1)

Muscat: March 1 (from December 1)

Lyon: March 1 (from December 1)

Bologna: March 1 (from December 1)

Source: Emirates

The biog

Favourite film: Motorcycle Dairies, Monsieur Hulot’s Holiday, Kagemusha

Favourite book: One Hundred Years of Solitude

Holiday destination: Sri Lanka

First car: VW Golf

Proudest achievement: Building Robotics Labs at Khalifa University and King’s College London, Daughters

Driverless cars or drones: Driverless Cars

Results

Elite men
1. Amare Hailemichael Samson (ERI) 2:07:10
2. Leornard Barsoton (KEN) 2:09:37
3. Ilham Ozbilan (TUR) 2:10:16
4. Gideon Chepkonga (KEN) 2:11:17
5. Isaac Timoi (KEN) 2:11:34
Elite women
1. Brigid Kosgei (KEN) 2:19:15
2. Hawi Feysa Gejia (ETH) 2:24:03
3. Sintayehu Dessi (ETH) 2:25:36
4. Aurelia Kiptui (KEN) 2:28:59
5. Emily Kipchumba (KEN) 2:29:52

Know your cyber adversaries

Cryptojacking: Compromises a device or network to mine cryptocurrencies without an organisation's knowledge.

Distributed denial-of-service: Floods systems, servers or networks with information, effectively blocking them.

Man-in-the-middle attack: Intercepts two-way communication to obtain information, spy on participants or alter the outcome.

Malware: Installs itself in a network when a user clicks on a compromised link or email attachment.

Phishing: Aims to secure personal information, such as passwords and credit card numbers.

Ransomware: Encrypts user data, denying access and demands a payment to decrypt it.

Spyware: Collects information without the user's knowledge, which is then passed on to bad actors.

Trojans: Create a backdoor into systems, which becomes a point of entry for an attack.

Viruses: Infect applications in a system and replicate themselves as they go, just like their biological counterparts.

Worms: Send copies of themselves to other users or contacts. They don't attack the system, but they overload it.

Zero-day exploit: Exploits a vulnerability in software before a fix is found.

The years Ramadan fell in May

1987

1954

1921

1888

Five films to watch

Castle in the Sky (1986)

Grave of the Fireflies (1988)

Only Yesterday (1991)

Pom Poki (1994)

The Tale of Princess Kaguya (2013)

ILT20 UAE stars

LEADING RUN SCORERS
1 Nicholas Pooran, 261
2 Muhammad Waseem (UAE), 248
3 Chris Lynn, 244
4 Johnson Charles, 232
5 Kusal Perera, 230

BEST BOWLING AVERAGE
(minimum 10 overs bowled)
1 Zuhaib Zubair (UAE), 9 wickets at 12.44
2 Mohammed Rohid (UAE), 7 at 13.00

3 Fazalhaq Farooqi, 17 at 13.05
4 Waqar Salamkheil, 10 at 14.08
5 Aayan Khan (UAE), 4 at 15.50
6 Wanindu Hasaranga, 12 at 16.25
7 Mohammed Jawadullah (UAE), 10 at 17.00

Essentials

The flights
Etihad and Emirates fly direct from the UAE to Delhi from about Dh950 return including taxes.
The hotels
Double rooms at Tijara Fort-Palace cost from 6,670 rupees (Dh377), including breakfast.
Doubles at Fort Bishangarh cost from 29,030 rupees (Dh1,641), including breakfast. Doubles at Narendra Bhawan cost from 15,360 rupees (Dh869). Doubles at Chanoud Garh cost from 19,840 rupees (Dh1,122), full board. Doubles at Fort Begu cost from 10,000 rupees (Dh565), including breakfast.
The tours 
Amar Grover travelled with Wild Frontiers. A tailor-made, nine-day itinerary via New Delhi, with one night in Tijara and two nights in each of the remaining properties, including car/driver, costs from £1,445 (Dh6,968) per person.

Company profile

Company name: Fasset
Started: 2019
Founders: Mohammad Raafi Hossain, Daniel Ahmed
Based: Dubai
Sector: FinTech
Initial investment: $2.45 million
Current number of staff: 86
Investment stage: Pre-series B
Investors: Investcorp, Liberty City Ventures, Fatima Gobi Ventures, Primal Capital, Wealthwell Ventures, FHS Capital, VN2 Capital, local family offices

Representing UAE overseas

If Catherine Richards debuts for Wales in the Six Nations, she will be the latest to have made it from the UAE to the top tier of the international game in the oval ball codes.

Seren Gough-Walters (Wales rugby league)
Born in Dubai, raised in Sharjah, and once an immigration officer at the British Embassy in Abu Dhabi, she debuted for Wales in rugby league in 2021.

Sophie Shams (England sevens)
With an Emirati father and English mother, Shams excelled at rugby at school in Dubai, and went on to represent England on the sevens circuit.

Fiona Reidy (Ireland)
Made her Test rugby bow for Ireland against England in 2015, having played for four years in the capital with Abu Dhabi Harlequins previously.

ROUTE TO TITLE

Round 1: Beat Leolia Jeanjean 6-1, 6-2
Round 2: Beat Naomi Osaka 7-6, 1-6, 7-5
Round 3: Beat Marie Bouzkova 6-4, 6-2
Round 4: Beat Anastasia Potapova 6-0, 6-0
Quarter-final: Beat Marketa Vondrousova 6-0, 6-2
Semi-final: Beat Coco Gauff 6-2, 6-4
Final: Beat Jasmine Paolini 6-2, 6-2

Director: Nag Ashwin

Starring: Prabhas, Saswata Chatterjee, Deepika Padukone, Amitabh Bachchan, Shobhana

Rating: ★★★★

Veil (Object Lessons)
Rafia Zakaria
​​​​​​​Bloomsbury Academic

Living in...

This article is part of a guide on where to live in the UAE. Our reporters will profile some of the country’s most desirable districts, provide an estimate of rental prices and introduce you to some of the residents who call each area home.

Dhadak

Director: Shashank Khaitan

Starring: Janhvi Kapoor, Ishaan Khattar, Ashutosh Rana

Stars: 3

Company Profile

Company name: Hoopla
Date started: March 2023
Founder: Jacqueline Perrottet
Based: Dubai
Number of staff: 10
Investment stage: Pre-seed
Investment required: $500,000

Final scores

18 under: Tyrrell Hatton (ENG)

- 14: Jason Scrivener (AUS)

-13: Rory McIlroy (NIR)

-12: Rafa Cabrera Bello (ESP)

-11: David Lipsky (USA), Marc Warren (SCO)

-10: Tommy Fleetwood (ENG), Chris Paisley (ENG), Matt Wallace (ENG), Fabrizio Zanotti (PAR)

SPEC SHEET

Display: 6.8" edge quad-HD+ dynamic Amoled 2X, Infinity-O, 3088 x 1440, 500ppi, HDR10+, 120Hz

Processor: 4nm Snapdragon 8 Gen 1/Exynos 2200, 8-core

Memory: 8/12GB RAM

Storage: 128/256/512GB/1TB

Platform: Android 12

Main camera: quad 12MP ultra-wide f/2.2, 108MP wide f/1.8, 10MP telephoto f/4.9, 10MP telephoto 2.4; Space Zoom up to 100x, auto HDR, expert RAW

Video: 8K@24fps, 4K@60fps, full-HD@60fps, HD@30fps, super slo-mo@960fps

Front camera: 40MP f/2.2

Battery: 5000mAh, fast wireless charging 2.0 Wireless PowerShare

Connectivity: 5G, Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 5.2, NFC

I/O: USB-C

SIM: single nano, or nano and SIM, nano and nano, eSIM/nano and nano

Colours: burgundy, green, phantom black, phantom white, graphite, sky blue, red

Price: Dh4,699 for 128GB, Dh5,099 for 256GB, Dh5,499 for 512GB; 1TB unavailable in the UAE

RESULTS

5pm: Al Bateen – Maiden (PA) Dh80,000 (Turf) 2,200m
Winner: Ma’Aly Al Shahania, Bernardo Pinheiro (jockey), Mohamed Daggash (trainer)
5.30pm: Al Khaleej – Maiden (PA) Dh80,000 (T) 1,400m
Winner: AF Rami, Tadhg O’Shea, Ernst Oertel
6pm: Wathba Stallions Cup – Handicap (PA) Dh70,000 (T) 1,400m
Winner: Bant Al Emarat, Bernardo Pinheiro, Qaiss Aboud
6.30pm: Al Nahyan – Handicap (PA) Dh80,000 (T) 1,600m
Winner: AF Rasam, Marcelino Rodrigues, Ernst Oertel
7pm: Al Karamah – Handicap (PA) Dh80,000 (T) 1,600m
Winner: Zafaranah, Bernardo Pinheiro, Musabah Al Muhairi
7.30pm: Al Salam – Handicap (TB) Dh80,000 (T) 1,400m
Winner: Nibras Passion, Tadhg O’Shea, Ismail Mohammed