Nana Yaa Adadewa Addo (second left), 24, prepares to practice her catwalk during a rehearsal in Ghana's capital Accra on Thursday May 21, 2009. Nana Yaa is one of several Ghanaian girls who auditioned for the upcoming television show West Africa's Next Top Model, the latest incarnation of Tyra Banks' America's Next Top Model. *** Local Caption ***  GhanaModeling06.jpg
Nana Yaa Adadewa Addo, foreground, practises her catwalk during a rehearsal in Accra.

West Africa sashays down the TV catwalk



ACCRA // Hot on the heels of the success of America's Next Top Model, the reality television show that spawned a generation of would-be models, the show's producers are bringing the catwalk to West Africa. When West Africa's Next Top Model airs in the autumn, Africa-based viewers will watch contestants compete for an international modelling contract. While America's Next Top Model is hosted by supermodel Tyra Banks, contestants in the West African version will come under the tutelage of Nigerian model Oluchi. She grew up in a low-income part of Lagos and was discovered by a scout while selling bread on a street corner. Though fashion is practically a keystone of West African society, many know the region better for its links to gun running and conflict diamonds. But in Abidjan, Ivory Coast's economic capital, life beneath the skyscrapers is set to a soundtrack of clicking heels. Chic women ride scooters through the dusty streets of Burkina Faso while Fulani villagers in the arid Sahel region invest hours turning their bodies into colourful works of art. At Africa's first official fashion week - held in Johannesburg this month - six West African fashion designers are showcasing their creations, including Ghanaians Ben Nonterah and Aisha Obuobi. Auditions for West Africa's Next Top Model have already been held in six West African countries, including Sierra Leone and Liberia, both recovering from long-running civil wars. "West African girls are beautiful and we relish new challenges", said Ghanaian model Matilda Mikekpor, who tried out for the show. "We want to show our faces to the world." Executive producer Tope Esan says he hopes the programme will help unbutton negative perceptions of West Africa. "This version of Next Top Model will not only highlight a diverse mix of models, but [also] the region for its tourist attractions, cultures and values." Ms Mikekpor says it will do more than that. "In West Africa, models are sometimes seen as irresponsible dropouts who just drink and smoke and party", she said. "West Africa's Next Top Model will show people that there's much more to us than meets the eye." At 24, Nana Yaa Adadewa Addo is Ghana's closest thing to a supermodel, with razor cheekbones and television appearances to her name. Though she and Ms Mikekpor both auditioned for West Africa's Next Top Model, neither heard back from the judges. "For me, the audition was a chance to seek fame and attention outside of Ghana" she said. "When my friends and I see American supermodels in magazines, we know we can look as good as them. But we also know that living in Ghana means we're probably never going to make it." Tonight, in the empty assembly hall of an orphanage, models from Accra's Exotic agency are rehearsing for a charity fashion show. As they squeeze their feet into kitten heels and plastic-looking stilettos, children press their faces against the grubby window panes. Fluorescent strip lights flicker and the music begins - local hip-hop laced with imported American pop. Throwing their shoulders back, the models stride through the hall in unison, perfecting the catwalk. As they swing their hips, ceiling fans coated in grit - a hangover from the Harmattan season, when the dry and dusty West African trade wind blows - turn impotently. The paint on the walls has cracked and peeled in Ghana's humid climate. Ghana's nascent fashion industry is flooded with young hopefuls and wages are as slim as the models. Taking a breather from the rehearsal, Ms Mikekpor says many Ghanaian models are waiting for their Cinderella moment. "Lots of supermodels started out in small agencies. I don't see why girls like us can't someday achieve the same level of fame." But their concept of fame is tethered to success in Europe or the US. Among their role models they list Tyra Banks and Naomi Campbell, black women raised in middle-class families in California and London. They have not heard of Ethiopia's Liya Kebede or the Somali-born model Waris Dirie. They do not mention Iman, one of the first black supermodels, or even Alek Wek, whose chiselled cheekbones and long legs have famously taken her from troubled southern Sudan to the runways of New York. Though the region's fashion industry is on the up, it is not unlikely that the winner of West Africa's Next Top Model might leave the region for greener pastures. That irony is not lost on Ms Mikekpor. "Lots of people in Ghana want to emulate people in America. Maybe we should be focusing on developing the fashion industry in Africa instead, but for now that's the way it is," she said. "Whoever wins West Africa's Next Top Model will also win the chance to model outside Africa. Who wouldn't want to enter?" kthomas@thenational.ae

COMPANY PROFILE

Company: Eco Way
Started: December 2023
Founder: Ivan Kroshnyi
Based: Dubai, UAE
Industry: Electric vehicles
Investors: Bootstrapped with undisclosed funding. Looking to raise funds from outside

UAE currency: the story behind the money in your pockets
A QUIET PLACE

Starring: Lupita Nyong'o, Joseph Quinn, Djimon Hounsou

Director: Michael Sarnoski

Rating: 4/5

The five pillars of Islam

1. Fasting

2. Prayer

3. Hajj

4. Shahada

5. Zakat

Director: Nag Ashwin

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

Rating: ★★★★

ESSENTIALS

The flights 
Fly Etihad or Emirates from the UAE to Moscow from 2,763 return per person return including taxes. 
Where to stay 
Trips on the Golden Eagle Trans-Siberian cost from US$16,995 (Dh62,414) per person, based on two sharing.

If you go

The flights
Emirates (www.emirates.com) and Etihad (www.etihad.com) both fly direct to Bengaluru, with return fares from Dh 1240. From Bengaluru airport, Coorg is a five-hour drive by car.

The hotels
The Tamara (www.thetamara.com) is located inside a working coffee plantation and offers individual villas with sprawling views of the hills (tariff from Dh1,300, including taxes and breakfast).

When to go
Coorg is an all-year destination, with the peak season for travel extending from the cooler months between October and March.

New process leads to panic among jobseekers

As a UAE-based travel agent who processes tourist visas from the Philippines, Jennifer Pacia Gado is fielding a lot of calls from concerned travellers just now. And they are all asking the same question.  

“My clients are mostly Filipinos, and they [all want to know] about good conduct certificates,” says the 34-year-old Filipina, who has lived in the UAE for five years.

Ms Gado contacted the Philippines Embassy to get more information on the certificate so she can share it with her clients. She says many are worried about the process and associated costs – which could be as high as Dh500 to obtain and attest a good conduct certificate from the Philippines for jobseekers already living in the UAE. 

“They are worried about this because when they arrive here without the NBI [National Bureau of Investigation] clearance, it is a hassle because it takes time,” she says.

“They need to go first to the embassy to apply for the application of the NBI clearance. After that they have go to the police station [in the UAE] for the fingerprints. And then they will apply for the special power of attorney so that someone can finish the process in the Philippines. So it is a long process and more expensive if you are doing it from here.”

Company Profile

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

Set-jetting on the Emerald Isle

Other shows filmed in Ireland include: Vikings (County Wicklow), The Fall (Belfast), Line of Duty (Belfast), Penny Dreadful (Dublin), Ripper Street (Dublin), Krypton (Belfast)

BLACKBERRY

Director: Matt Johnson

Stars: Jay Baruchel, Glenn Howerton, Matt Johnson

Rating: 4/5

The specs

Engine: Dual synchronous electric motors
Power: 646hp
Torque: 830Nm
Transmission: Two-speed auto (rear axle); single-speed auto (front)
Price: From Dh552,311; Dh660,408 (as tested)
On sale: now

TOURNAMENT INFO

Fixtures
Sunday January 5 - Oman v UAE
Monday January 6 - UAE v Namibia
Wednesday January 8 - Oman v Namibia
Thursday January 9 - Oman v UAE
Saturday January 11 - UAE v Namibia
Sunday January 12 – Oman v Namibia

UAE squad
Ahmed Raza (captain), Rohan Mustafa, Mohammed Usman, CP Rizwan, Waheed Ahmed, Zawar Farid, Darius D’Silva, Karthik Meiyappan, Jonathan Figy, Vriitya Aravind, Zahoor Khan, Junaid Siddique, Basil Hameed, Chirag Suri

‘White Elephant’

Director: Jesse V Johnson
Stars: Michael Rooker, Bruce Willis, John Malkovich, Olga Kurylenko
Rating: 3/5

Bridgerton season three - part one

Directors: Various

Starring: Nicola Coughlan, Luke Newton, Jonathan Bailey

Rating: 3/5

COMPANY PROFILE

Company name: Klipit

Started: 2022

Founders: Venkat Reddy, Mohammed Al Bulooki, Bilal Merchant, Asif Ahmed, Ovais Merchant

Based: Dubai, UAE

Industry: Digital receipts, finance, blockchain

Funding: $4 million

Investors: Privately/self-funded

Pros and cons of BNPL

Pros

  • Easy to use and require less rigorous credit checks than traditional credit options
  • Offers the ability to spread the cost of purchases over time, often interest-free
  • Convenient and can be integrated directly into the checkout process, useful for online shopping
  • Helps facilitate cash flow planning when used wisely

Cons

  • The ease of making purchases can lead to overspending and accumulation of debt
  • Missing payments can result in hefty fees and, in some cases, high interest rates after an initial interest-free period
  • Failure to make payments can impact credit score negatively
  • Refunds can be complicated and delayed

Courtesy: Carol Glynn

Mubadala World Tennis Championship 2018 schedule

Thursday December 27

Men's quarter-finals

Kevin Anderson v Hyeon Chung 4pm

Dominic Thiem v Karen Khachanov 6pm

Women's exhibition

Serena Williams v Venus Williams 8pm

Friday December 28

5th place play-off 3pm

Men's semi-finals

Rafael Nadal v Anderson/Chung 5pm

Novak Djokovic v Thiem/Khachanov 7pm

Saturday December 29

3rd place play-off 5pm

Men's final 7pm

Match info:

Leicester City 1
Ghezzal (63')

Liverpool 2
Mane (10'), Firmino (45')

LAST 16 DRAW

Borussia Dortmund v PSG

Real Madrid v Manchester City

Atalanta v Valencia

Atletico Madrid v Liverpool

Chelsea v Bayern Munich

Lyon v Juventus

Tottenham v Leipzig

Napoli v Barcelona

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

Specs

Engine: 3.0L twin-turbo V6
Gearbox: 10-speed automatic
Power: 405hp at 5,500rpm
Torque: 562Nm at 3,000rpm
Fuel economy, combined: 11.2L/100km
Price: From Dh292,845 (Reserve); from Dh320,145 (Presidential)
On sale: Now

THE BIO

Born: Mukalla, Yemen, 1979

Education: UAE University, Al Ain

Family: Married with two daughters: Asayel, 7, and Sara, 6

Favourite piece of music: Horse Dance by Naseer Shamma

Favourite book: Science and geology

Favourite place to travel to: Washington DC

Best advice you’ve ever been given: If you have a dream, you have to believe it, then you will see it.


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