Lebanese-Brazilian singer wows thousands with cover of ‘Hallelujah’

(SAO PAULO) — Lebanese-Brazilian singer Luciana Zogbi will leave you speechless after you listen to her cover of Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah.”

At just 19-years-old, Luciana’s singing career is already off to a great start! With 310,000 Facebook likes and more than 52 million YouTube views, she’s become internationally known as a YouTube star.

The independent singer shot to fame after her cover of John Legend’s “All of Me” went viral, garnering 36 million views worldwide.

WATCH her recently posted cover of Hallelujah:

Haifa Wehbe reveals plans to enter U.S. music market

(LOS ANGELES, CA) — After releasing her first-ever English music video in April, Lebanese superstar Haifa Wehbe revealed plans to enter the U.S. music market with two additional English songs.

Haifa is planning partnerships with R&B singer Ne-Yo and Moroccan-born rapper French Montana for her new songs, “Habibi” and “Snake Charmer.”

Her first English music video, “Breathing You In,” pulled in a whopping 7.6 million views on YouTube.

“For me its about taking risks – lots of them,” Haifa told Entertainment Scoop. “I want to continue to push myself to do things that are outside of my comfort zone.”

“Breathing You In” featured a provocative Haifa flaunting around Jennifer Lopez’s ex-lover, Casper Smart. In June, celebrity tabloids revealed an alleged scandal between Haifa and Casper.

"I wanted to make sure that my video delivered visual impact," Haifa says of her music video for "Breathing You In." (YouTube screenshot.)
“I wanted to make sure that my video delivered visual impact,” Haifa says of her music video for “Breathing You In.” (YouTube screenshot.)

In Touch Magazine said a source told them Haifa and Casper began a “secret affair” that lasted until the spring.

“J-Lo saw texts between Casper and Haifa, that’s how she uncovered the affair,” the source is quoted by In Touch Magazine. “She became possessive and controlling, she was furious and forced him to sever all ties with Haifa.”

Haifa did not respond to the allegations, but admitted to being an “easy target” for controversy.

“The world is changing and people are ultimately frightened by the unknown so they lash out and I regrettably am an easy target,” Haifa said. “I work at not taking it personal because the issues are much bigger than me.”

“Breathing You In” was directed by Dubai-based businessman and film producer Tarik Freitekh. The music video was shot in Las Vegas in studios previously used by the likes of Shakira, Snoop Dog, and Justin Bieber.

WATCH Haifa’s first English music video:

Lebanese-Canadian opera artist sings ‘O Canada’ in Arabic

(TORONTO, CANADA) — Lebanese-Canadian opera singer Miriam Khalil recently recorded the first Arabic version of Canada’s national anthem through a project led by the Canadian Arab Institute.

According to the Institute, the project aims to encourage Arabic-speaking Canadians to be “more engaged” with their citizenship.

Khalil said she hopes the Arabic-version spreads a message of “solidarity and affinity” with the larger Canadian family.

The Canadian Arab Institute released the song one week before Canada’s 148th birthday, which is celebrated on July 1.

“This is a celebration of our citizenship in this country,” Raja Khouri, president of the institute, told Canada’s Metro News.

“When you hear something that is being said in your mother tongue, it has more emotional impact, and makes you pay more attention,” he said. “We hope it will be a step further in fostering responsibilities as citizens of this nation.

LISTEN to Khalil’s rendition:

Lebanese model sparks expensive divorce battle with Saudi billionaire

(BEIRUT, LEBANON) — Lebanese supermodel Loujain Adada sparked the start of an expensive divorce battle between one of the world’s richest men, and his former wife, supermodel Christina Estrada.

The Daily Mail reports that Estrada is divorcing her husband, Saudi billionaire Walid Juffali, after he married a second wife — his third in total — Adada.

But things get more complicated.

Estrada, 52, is seeking a “significant slice” of Juffali’s wealth, including some of his multi-million dollar estates around the world.

Adada, Juffali, Estrada. (Photos via The Daily Mail)
Adada, Juffali, Estrada. (Photos via The Daily Mail)

With an estimated family fortune of $6.2 billion, Estrada is reportedly seeking three of the couple’s properties in the UK, worth an estimated $90 million.

Juffali divorced his first wife Basma Al Sulaiman in 2000 after 24 years of marriage, paying her $62 million.

Juffali, 60, and Adada, 25, tied the knot in 2012 during a large lavish wedding held in Venice, Italy.

Juffali’s family owns one of Saudi Arabia’s largest conglomerates, EA Juffali & Brothers, which has a long list of multinational corporations as partners, including IBM, Siemens, Ericsson, Mercedes-Benz, Michelin, Massey-Ferguson, Electrolux, Kelvinator, Carrier, Dow Chemicals and DuPont.

Lebanese designer Sabine Ghanem marries billionaire oil heir

(ROME, ITALY) — Lebanese jewelery designer Sabine Ghanem married billionaire oil heir Joseph Getty in a extravagant ceremony at the Basilica of the Twelve Apostles in Rome, Italy on May 30.

Getty, 26, is the son of Mark Getty – the British businessman who owns picture agency Getty Images – and the grandson of philanthropist Sir John Paul Getty.

The Getty dynasty was started by J. Paul Getty, Joseph’s great-grandfather, who became the richest man in the world thanks to the Getty Oil Company.

Ghanem, 30, owns the Sabine G. jewelery collection, a London-based jewelery line of antiqued rose gold, diamonds, and rubies for headpieces, earrings, and bangle bracelets.

The Lebanese bride's gown required two assistants to trail at all times. (Xposure Photos)
The Lebanese bride’s gown required two assistants to trail at all times. (Xposure Photos)

Ghanem said her design company is a “mix of Eastern and Western cultures” which reflect her time growing up in Beirut, Lebanon and Geneva, Switzerland, before moving to the United States to study diamond grading at the Gemological Institute in New York.

Several news agencies are reporting that the wedding cost Ghanem’s father around $11 million. He is a Lebanese financier; while her mother is an interior decorator from Egypt.

The reception featured a wardrobe change among many of the wedding guests to reflect the theme of the 1988 film, Dangerous Liaisons, set in 18th century Paris.

In lieu of a traditional veil, Ghanem wore a hooded cloak hand created by the French house Lesage. Her dress was designed by Italian design line Schiaparelli.

The glamorous wedding weekend featured guests from Princess Beatrice of York, eldest daughter of Prince Andrew, Duke of York, and French model Julia Restoin Roitfeld.

Lebanese filmmaker wins prize at Cannes Film Festival

(BEIRUT, LEBANON) — Lebanese filmmaker Ely Dagher won a top award at the 2015 Cannes Film Festival on Sunday for his short film “Waves ’98.”

Dagher, 30, won the Palme d’Or award after competing with more than 4,000 short films from around the world.

“Waves ’98” is a 15-minute “visual essay” that explores Dagher’s relationship with Beirut in 1998 as a teenager. Dagher said his attachment to Beirut became “more and more complicated” after moving from Lebanon to Brussels.

Dagher is the first Lebanese director to be awarded at the Cannes Festival since 1991, when famed filmmaker Maroun Baghdadi won the Jury Prize for “Out of Life” (Hors La Vie).

Bagdadi was internationally known for producing popular films with American director Francis Coppola, including several projects that became hits in France.

The prestigious Cannes Film Festival is held annually in southern France. The 2015 festival took place from May 13 to May 24.

The jury for the main competition included American filmmakers Joel and Ethan Coen, Mexican filmmaker Guillermo del Toro, American actor Jake Gyllenhaal, French-Canadian actor and filmmaker Xavier Dolan, French actress and director Sophie Marceau, Spanish actress Rossy de Palma, Malian musician Rokia Traore, and British actress Sienna Miller.

WATCH the trailer:

WAVES’98 Trailer from Beaverandbeaver on Vimeo.

George Clooney: “We’re going to go to Beirut”

(BEIRUT, LEBANON) — First Salma Hayek, now George Clooney? Will one of the world’s most recognized couples really come to Beirut?

On Tuesday, George Clooney announced that he and his wife Amal Alamuddin were planning to visit Beirut in the “near future” to meet his Lebanese in-laws.

“We’re going to go to Beirut and I’m really excited to do that but I didn’t know much about the Lebanese culture including how many family members I now have in Lebanon, which is a thousand I think,” he said.

Clooney explained how his marriage to Alamuddin, who was born in Lebanon, has taught him about the country’s culture.

“What I have learned from Amal is about Lebanese culture and (it’s) absolutely fascinating to me,” he said.

Alamuddin’s family hails from Baakline, a well-known Druze town and seat of the sect’s religious leader in the Chouf district of the country.

Alamuddin’s father, Ramzi, is a retired professor at the American University of Beirut, while her mother, Baria, is a well-known former beauty-queen turned journalist with the newspaper Al-Hayat.

The family left Lebanon in the 1980s at the height of Lebanon’s civil war. They settled in London, with Amal going on to earn a law degree from the prestigious Oxford University and later a Master’s degree from New York University.

Clooney spoke of the couple’s vested interest in politics and his freedom to talk more openly about his beliefs than his wife, who may deal with different countries in her line of work.

“Well she’s not involved in politics, she’s active on the international stage. I would argue that both of us are equally involved politically. I’m in a much better place and able to do a lot more by not having to compromise,” he added.

The news comes just one day after Clooney called the conflict in Syria “incredibly complex.” He also explained how Amal has given him a “new perspective” on the country.

Clooney also told the BBC that he intends to do more to help the people of Syria without being formally involved in politics.

Salma Hayek receives humanitarian award from Arab American Institute

(WASHINGTON, DC) — Actress and film director Salma Hayek received the “Spirit of Humanity” Kahlil Gibran Award from the Arab American Institute on Thursday during an annual gala in Washington DC honoring successful Arab-Americans.

Hayek returned from a three-day trip to Lebanon on Tuesday, where she launched her new animated film “The Prophet”, which is based on Gibran’s book.

The animated film, which draws on the 1923 book by Lebanese-born writer Kahlil Gibran, tells the story of Almitra, a headstrong girl who forms a friendship with imprisoned poet Mustafa.

The Washington DC ceremony was held at the Omni Shoreham Hotel, where Hayek was awarded in the category of “individual achievement.”

“I’m a citizen of the world, and my country is humanity, kids are poets from the moment they’re born; they get Gibran’s message without thinking about the meaning of individual words,” Hayek said.

The institute highlighted the Salma Hayek Foundation’s work to “end violence against women and attract global attention to humanitarian crises.”

Hayek said her trip to Lebanon was “very emotional” and called her new film a “love letter to my heritage.”

“Through this book I got to know my grandfather, through this book I got to have my grandfather teaching me about life,” she said in Beirut.

Hayek also visited Gibran’s birthplace, Bcharre, on Sunday to pay tribute to the writer and his book, which has sold more than 100 million copies worldwide.

Najib Mikati’s son hosts lavish wedding celebration in Morocco

(MARRAKESH, MOROCCO) — Lebanese billionaire and former prime minister Najib Mikati celebrated his son’s wedding on Saturday at the El Badi Palace in Marrakesh, Morroco.

Sources say over 1,000 people attended Malick Mikati’s wedding, including Lebanese fashion designer Elie Saab and Egyptian singer Amr Diab.

The Mikati family also hosted a brunch party at the La Mamounia luxurious hotel on Sunday.

Malick Mikati and his wife celebrate their wedding at the El Badi Palace in Morocco. (Twitter)
Malick Mikati and his wife celebrate their wedding at the El Badi Palace in Morocco. (Twitter)

The El Badi Palace is a tourist attraction in Morocco, which was commissioned by the Saadian sultan Ahmad al-Mansur, sometime shortly after his accession in 1578.

Najib Mikati served as the Prime Minister of Lebanon two times, from April to July 2005 and from January 2011 to August 2013. He is also the co-founder of telecommunications company Investcom, which he sold in 2006 to South Africa’s MTN Group for $5.5 billion.

U.S. Forbes magazine estimated his fortune at nearly $3.3 billion, making him the richest man in Lebanon.

The courtyard of the El Badi Palace in Marrakesh, Morocco. (Wikimedia)
The courtyard of the El Badi Palace in Marrakesh, Morocco. (Wikimedia)
Malick Mikati and his wife celebrate their wedding at the El Badi Palace in Morocco. (Twitter)
Malick Mikati and his wife celebrate their wedding at the El Badi Palace in Morocco. (Twitter)

Salma Hayek visits Lebanon to launch “The Prophet”

(BEIRUT, LEBANON) — Actress and film director Salma Hayek visited her ancestral homeland Lebanon for the first time on Sunday to launch “The Prophet,” a new animated feature film she co-produced.

Hayek, joined by Sethrida Geagea, visited the mountain village of Bcharre in northern Lebanon to pay tribute to Khalil Gibran, the Bcharre-born poet who wrote “The Prophet,” which the film is based on.

“Let us have a private moment in this place that we dreamt so long to be a part of,” Hayek said before entering the Gibran Museum.

“The Prophet,” written in 1923, has inspired generations of artists. The book, a series of poems about love, joy, sorrow, work and spirituality, has been translated into at least 40 languages.

Gibran also was a sculptor and a painter influenced by the English Romantics. He migrated to the United States in the late 1890s, dying there in 1931.

Hayek posed with one of Gibran’s towering sculptures outside the museum and dipped her feet in nearby mountain spring waters before visiting his tomb and viewing his work.

“The Prophet” director Roger Allers, who also directed Disney’s “The Lion King,” accompanied Hayek on the trip.

“I have been living with the spirit of Gibran for the last three years and it has been a very intimate experience and now to come to his home is very moving,” Allers said.

The film tells the story of a friendship between a young girl and an imprisoned poet. Quoting from Gibran’s book, Allers said: “‘Work is love made visible.’ And I really feel that about this movie.”

The film premieres April 30 in Lebanon. Distributor Mohammed Fadallah said it will be showing in 20 theaters here before going to the Gulf region and North Africa.

Hayek arrived Friday in Lebanon. The Mexican-American actress’ paternal grandfather was Lebanese and immigrated to Mexico.

A poster outside the museum bearing one of Gibran’s poems also welcomed her: “The children of my Lebanon, those who migrate with nothing but courage in their hearts and strength in their arms but who return with wealth in their hands and a wreath of glory upon their heads.”

Source: Associated Press

Mexican and American actress Salma Hayek, center, Lebanese legislator Setrida Geagea, left, and film director Roger Allers, right, stand for the Lebanese and Mexican national anthems during her visit at the museum of the famed Lebanese-born poet and philosopher Khalil Gibran in the northeast mountain town of Bcharre, Lebanon, Sunday, April 26, 2015. Hayek visited her ancestral homeland Lebanon to launch her latest film "The Prophet," a screen adaptation of the book by the same name written nearly a century ago by Gibran.  Photo: Bilal Hussein, AP
Mexican and American actress Salma Hayek, center, Lebanese legislator Setrida Geagea, left, and film director Roger Allers, right, stand for the Lebanese and Mexican national anthems during her visit at the museum of the famed Lebanese-born poet and philosopher Khalil Gibran in the northeast mountain town of Bcharre, Lebanon, Sunday, April 26, 2015. Hayek visited her ancestral homeland Lebanon to launch her latest film “The Prophet,” a screen adaptation of the book by the same name written nearly a century ago by Gibran. Photo: Bilal Hussein, AP
Mexican and American Salma Hayek sits in front of a statue of Lebanese-American poet Khalil Gibran during her visit to his museum in the northeast mountain town of Bcharre, Lebanon, Sunday, April 26, 2015. Hayek visited her ancestral homeland Lebanon to launch her latest film "The Prophet," a screen adaptation of the book by the same name written nearly a century ago by the famed Lebanese-American poet and philosopher Gibran. Photo: Bilal Hussein, AP
Mexican and American Salma Hayek sits in front of a statue of Lebanese-American poet Khalil Gibran during her visit to his museum in the northeast mountain town of Bcharre, Lebanon, Sunday, April 26, 2015. Hayek visited her ancestral homeland Lebanon to launch her latest film “The Prophet,” a screen adaptation of the book by the same name written nearly a century ago by the famed Lebanese-American poet and philosopher Gibran. Photo: Bilal Hussein, AP
Mexican and American actress Salma Hayek signs the museum guest book during her visit at the museum of the famed Lebanese-born poet and philosopher Khalil Gibran in the northeast mountain town of Bcharre, Lebanon, Sunday, April 26, 2015. Hayek visited her ancestral homeland Lebanon to launch her latest film "The Prophet," a screen adaptation of the book by the same name written nearly a century ago by Gibran. Photo: Bilal Hussein, AP
Mexican and American actress Salma Hayek signs the museum guest book during her visit at the museum of the famed Lebanese-born poet and philosopher Khalil Gibran in the northeast mountain town of Bcharre, Lebanon, Sunday, April 26, 2015. Hayek visited her ancestral homeland Lebanon to launch her latest film “The Prophet,” a screen adaptation of the book by the same name written nearly a century ago by Gibran. Photo: Bilal Hussein, AP
Mexican and American actress Salma Hayek, second left, speaks with Lebanese legislator Setrida Geagea, second right, during her visit to Khalil Gibran's museum in the northeast mountain town of Bcharre, Lebanon, Sunday, April 26, 2015. Hayek visited her ancestral homeland Lebanon to launch her latest film "The Prophet," a screen adaptation of the book by the same name written nearly a century ago by the famed Lebanese-American poet and philosopher Gibran. Photo: Bilal Hussein, AP
Mexican and American actress Salma Hayek, second left, speaks with Lebanese legislator Setrida Geagea, second right, during her visit to Khalil Gibran’s museum in the northeast mountain town of Bcharre, Lebanon, Sunday, April 26, 2015. Hayek visited her ancestral homeland Lebanon to launch her latest film “The Prophet,” a screen adaptation of the book by the same name written nearly a century ago by the famed Lebanese-American poet and philosopher Gibran. Photo: Bilal Hussein, AP

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