x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 24 January 2018

Muhammad Ali celebrates his 70th birthday

Plus: Gaza train art gathers steam; J Lo and Marc Anthony reunite for music series; Beyoncé and Jay-Z donate baby gifts to charity; and Virgin Megastore to feature Nervecell and Mahmoud Kaabour.

The former world heavyweight boxing champion Muhammad Ali in 1966. He turns 70 tomorrow. R McPhedran / Hulton Archive / Getty Images
The former world heavyweight boxing champion Muhammad Ali in 1966. He turns 70 tomorrow. R McPhedran / Hulton Archive / Getty Images

Muhammad Ali soaked in familiar chants along with a rendition of Happy Birthday on Saturday night, as the former boxing champ's coming 70th birthday was celebrated in his Kentucky hometown.

As friends and admirers mingled in the lobby of the Muhammad Ali Center, Ali walked slowly to a second-floor balcony and watched the crowd for around two minutes.

The three-time world heavyweight champion, who is battling Parkinson's disease, leaned against a rail and waved to the crowd. Ali walked on his own but was at times assisted by his wife Lonnie. After the brief appearance, Ali went inside to his party. The guest list numbered 350 for the private event, which doubled as a US$1,000-per-person (Dh3,673) fund-raiser for the Ali Center, the six-year-old cultural and education complex designed to be a legacy to his social activism.

The guest list included Ali's trainer Angelo Dundee, the former heavyweight champion Lennox Lewis and three American hikers who had been jailed in Iran. (Ali, perhaps the most prominent US Muslim, lobbied for their release.) The rocker John Mellencamp headlined the entertainment. Ali turns 70 tomorrow, and the party in his hometown is the first of five planned in the coming months.

"He's glad he's here to turn 70," said Lonnie. "But he wants to be reassured he doesn't look 70."

* AP

Gaza train art gathers steam

Underground train travel to bypass a chaotic traffic system? Welcome to Gaza, one of the world's most crowded places, where a conceptual art installation expresses this tantalising idea. The Palestinian artist Mohamed Abusal erected luminous red metro signs in 50 different, and often unlikely places, across the Gaza strip, the dusty coastal territory measuring 40 square kilometres and home to some 1.6 million people. A map with seven lines connecting different parts of the enclave was designed and printed to accompany the project, which was so carefully conceived that some Gazans were tricked into thinking that a real railway system was under construction. The artist dreams of his metro system being accessible to all, running on sustainable energy supplied by Egypt, immune to Israeli bombardments and blockades, not beholden to the region's political twists and turns, nor with men and women segregated. The photo exhibition of the project is running at the French cultural centre in Gaza City until tomorrow.


J Lo and Marc Anthony reunite

Jennifer Lopez and Marc Anthony are together again - at least to promote their new project. The stars, who split up last summer, appeared on stage on Saturday to promote a new music series they are doing together. Q'Viva! The Chosen premières in the US later this month. Anthony reached down to offer his hand and help Lopez climb three stairs to the stage, and later admired her bling. They sat side by side on directors' chairs. They answered only two questions at a news conference. Before leaving, Lopez told a reporter that "we have a great time working together".

* AP

Beyoncé and Jay-Z donate baby gifts to charity

It seems like new parents Beyoncé and Jay-Z have received so many gifts in honour of their daughter, Blue Ivy, that they have decided to donate most of them to charities for young mothers.

The gossip website PerezHilton.com reported that Oprah gave the family a huge trunk of children's books. Close friends P Diddy, Kanye West, Rihanna and Mariah Carey have also sent in "luxurious baby treats".

The Daily Star reported, however, that the couple will be keeping one present: a diamond dummy. "A close friend of theirs in the music industry gave them a diamond-encrusted Cartier dummy [pacifier] - it must have cost $20,000. Blue has officially got her first piece of bling!"

Blue Ivy is the youngest person ever to appear on the Billboard charts, after her father recorded the song Glory, 48 hours after her birth.

Virgin Megastore to feature Nervecell and Mahmoud Kaabour

The Dubai-based metal band Nervecell, who have opened for Guns 'N Roses and Metallica, will be presented with a Plaque of Recognition and Silver Record on Thursday morning at Mall of the Emirates for reaching the status of All Time Best Selling Metal Band and Top 3 Best Selling UAE Artist (International Repertoire). The award ceremony will take place at Virgin Megastore.

Later that same Thursday, at the Virgin Megastore in the Dubai Mall, the filmmaker Mahmoud Kaabour will be present at the DVD launch of his film Teta, Alf Marra (Grandma, a Thousand Times). The movie, about transgenerational family love and the rebirth of Beirut's old music, has been screened to packed audiences at more than 40 festivals worldwide and won six international awards, including the New York Times Critics' Pick. A complimentary poster will be on offer with any purchase of the DVD or soundtrack.