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Singapore submits Unesco bid to recognise hawker culture

The Republic’s nomination to inscribe hawker culture in Singa-pore on the Unesco Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.The nomination includes letters, photographs and videos demonstrating community support for the bid, the organisations behind the attempt said in a joint statement yesterday.

The photographs feature an Indian Muslim hawker preparing briyani, a Chinese hawker demonstrating a chicken rice recipe, and a father and his children enjoying the chendol dessert, among other snapshots.A 10-minute video was also produced to give a 12-member Unesco evaluation body – including six experts qualified in various fields of intangible cultural heritage – a better understanding of hawker culture in Singapore.The nomination documents, to be available for public viewing from July, were submitted jointly by the three organisations driving the bid. They are the National Heritage Board, the National Environment Agency and The Federation of Merchants’ Associations, Singapore (FMAS).

Using the evaluation body’s assessment and recommendation as a guide, a 24-member intergovernmental committee will then decide on the suitability of inscribing Singapore’s hawker culture.The results will be announced at the end of next year.UNESCO Nomination – Hawker Culture in SingaporeMr Low Hock Kee, 50, a second-generation hawker and co-chairman of the hawker sub-committee of FMAS, believes that if the inscription is successful, the profile of the country’s rich cultural heritage will be boosted. “The nomination also helps elevate the status of hawkers and affirms our role in Singapore.

“If successful, hawker culture will join 429 cultures of other countries which have been inscribed since the list was established in 2008. These include Belgium’s beer culture, Indonesia’s bamboo musical instrument angklung, China’s shadow puppetry, and kimjang, or the making and sharing of kimchi in South Korea.Unlike the evaluation of world heritage sites, assessments of intangible cultural heritage do not require evaluators to make site visits.Countries whose bids are not successful can reapply in subsequent Unesco evaluation cycles. Singapore’s first such submission in the category of intangible cultural heritage comes after the Botanic Gardens was made a Unesco World Heritage Site in 2015.Singapore’s hawker culture bid has drawn some criticism from across the border.

Some Malaysians have claimed their country is a street-food paradise, and that Singapore’s hawker version is not that special.However, the list is not intended to define the origins and ownership of cultural practices.For instance, both Arabic coffee and Turkish coffee were inscribed in the Unesco list. Related StorySpirited debate on hawker culture shows investment in its survival:

National Heritage Board Related Story 14-member committee set up to oversee Singapore’s hawker culture nomination Related StoryHawker culture to be nominated for Unesco heritage list: 8 famous stalls in Singapore Related StoryExperts hope Unesco bid will increase support for hawkersInstead, Singapore’s attempt will be assessed based on the criteria of meeting Unesco’s definition of intangible cultural heritage; how the potential inscription will increase awareness of Singapore’s intangible cultural heritage; how the existing and future safeguarding measures promote the continued practice of the culture; whether the nomination involved the community; and whether it is part of the country’s intangible cultural heritage inventory.

The country’s inventory, comprising 70 elements so far, includes pilgrimages to Kusu Island and Malay weddings, and was established last April.In a joint statement, the organisations driving the bid said the attempt has received overwhelming support from Singaporeans since it was announced last August.They noted that apart from hawker associations, more than 850,000 pledges of support and over 31,000 messages were registered across various platforms.Their social media movement, they added, generated 810,000 likes and comments in support of hawker culture.

The statement said: “A successful nomination will demonstrate to the world how proud we are of hawker culture in Singapore, encourage greater appreciation for our hawkers, and show our commitment as a nation to safeguard hawker culture for generations to come.”They added that the submission of the nomination documents is a milestone in Singapore’s Unesco inscription journey to better recognise and protect the island’s intangible cultural heritage.

The nomination documents took into account input from a nomination committee, comprising representatives and stakeholders from various sectors, including hawker representatives, academics, community partners, non-governmental organisations and government agencies.There are more than 100 hawker centres in Singapore and some 6,000 hawkers who each serve about 150 to 200 affordable meals daily.More than 80 per cent of the population visit hawker centres at least once a week.Messages written by Singaporeans in support of the bid note that hawker centres serve as spaces where “a variety of multicultural cuisines” can be found under one roof, and where “people of all races gather to eat together”.

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Celebrating diversity through fashion

Sonia Sadiq Gandhi is the force behind Fashions of Multicultural Australia (FOMA), a national initiative supported by the Department of Foreign Affairs.
The event’s aim is to foster social cohesion and strengthen bilateral trade between participating nations through fashion and cultural diplomacy.
A free daytime exhibition and runway being held in Sydney will showcase 30 different cultures that make up Australia. People will also be able to wear traditional clothing and taste food from all around the world.Ms Sadiq Gandhi said it’s an immersive experience. “I mean imagine learning how to wear a sari, a 5.5 metre material, or going to the Korean stall and learning how to wear a hanbok,” Ms Gandhi said. It allows people to engage directly with local and emerging designers and Foreign Embassies, including South Korea, Russia and India – to name a few.Katya Komarova is a Russian fashion designer living in Australia, and is one of 15 designers taking part in the fashion parade on Friday. She was invited by the Embassy of Russian Federation to represent her home country on the runway.
“To actually show a wider audience what we’re actually doing here as immigrants and new people of the fashion community is just great,” Ms Komarova said. “I feel very supported as an immigrant.” Her pieces are a contemporary take on her Russian heritage.Russian fashion designer Katya KomarovaSBS Fashion designer Anjilla Seddeqi representing Afghanistan at the FOMA exhibit and on the runway.She specialises in the design of bespoke pieces. “It represents the culture and the traditions.
Usually worn during celebratory times in Afghanistan, during a wedding, during Eid celebration and times like that.Ms Seddeqi moved to Australia when she was seven years old and has since embraced her identity as an Afghan Australia – especially through fashion.
SBSIt’s nice to have that representation so girls who look like me can see this and say look this is what I can achieve if I set my mind to it.Academic and feminist Susan Carland is a supporter of the designer’s self-titled label.”She received a lot of positive feedback so that’s nice to see as well.” FOMA founder Sonia Sadiq Gandhi said diversity doesn’t stop at the design level.”Our models are walking talking diversity too.”We have models that are over age 50 on the runway show, we have a Paralympic winner who is walking with a prosthetic leg, and that is the sort of stereotype that we want to break.“Breaking down the stereotype of what you wear is where you come from, which makes the exhibition and show such an important opportunity to reflect on the fashions of the world and help develop a public appreciation for different cultures.”

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Forbes Travel Guide Reveals Its 2019 Star Award Winners

Forbes Travel Guide’s inspectors scoured the globe to discover the world’s best hotels, restaurants and spas for our 2019 Star Award winners.

Credit: Four Seasons Resort The Nam Hai, Hoi AnForbes Travel Guide’s inspectors scoured the globe to discover the world’s best hotels, restaurants and spas for our 2019 Star Award winners.For the 61st annual list, we expanded to new destinations, including Anguilla, Bahrain, Belize, Danang, Doha, Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, Hoi An, Istanbul, Oman, Perth, the Swiss Alps, Tel Aviv and Uruguay. The result is our biggest and most diverse group of honorees yet.To find the top luxury experiences, our inspectors checked into a hotel for a minimum of two nights and posed as ordinary guests. Once there, they tested up to 900 objective, exacting standards that covered everything from whether a staff member greets you curbside within 30 seconds of pulling up in a car to whether housekeeping arranges toiletries on top of high-quality underliners on the counter.
The ratings emphasize graciousness, thoughtfulness and personalized service: 75 percent of a hotel’s score is based on its level of service, while 25 percent is determined by the quality of its facilities (for more on how a hotel earns a rating, click here).See the full list of Star-Rated properties here.
Below are some highlights from this year’s esteemed winners:Fairmont Pacific Rim. Credit: FRHI Hotels ResortsHotelsThe Peninsula Hotels emerged as the biggest winner it’s the first all Five-Star hotel company in Forbes Travel Guide history.The Peninsula Manila earned its inaugural Five-Star award, giving the Hong Kong-based brand a total of 10 top-rated hotels.Another brand with a stellar year was Bulgari Hotels Resorts, which claimed a trifecta of Five-Star honors for Bulgari Hotel Beijing; Bulgari Hotel Residences, London; and Bulgari Resort Bali.
This marks the first Five-Star wins for the company synonymous with the luxurious Roman jeweler.Elsewhere around the globe, countries seized their first Five-Star hotel distinction.
Among them were Malaysia’s Crockfords at Resorts World Genting, a secret spot whose luxurious rooms are mostly reserved for high rollers at the nearby casino; Portugal’s Four Seasons Hotel Ritz Lisbon, an icon whose outdoor rooftop track affords one of the best views of the city; South Korea’s The Shilla Seoul, a historic property outfitted with the latest technology from owner Samsung; Turkey’s Raffles Istanbul, which boasts an unbeatable location in Zorlu Center mall amid high-end shops, restaurants and an Eataly; and Vietnam’s Four Seasons Resort The Nam Hai, Hoi An, a dreamy beach escape with three tiers of infinity pools and breezy villas.Other newcomers to the list include three hotels in the British capital: The Langham, London, whose experimental Artesian bar is a destination unto itself; Mandarin Oriental, Hyde Park, London, which makes a triumphant comeback after a June 2018 fire; and Shangri-La Hotel, At The Shard, London, which resides in one of the city’s most-recognized buildings, the hulking Renzo Piano-designed Shard.Four Seasons Resort Lanai. Credit: Four Seasons Hotels LimitedPlus, Five-Star awards went to Fairmont Pacific Rim, a sleek Vancouver spot offering Coal Harbour vistas and the see-and-be-seen restaurant Botanist; Hôtel de Crillon, A Rosewood Hotel in Paris, the 1909 grande dame that had a major facelift in 2017; and Four Seasons Hotel Abu Dhabi at Al Maryah Island, where each of the bright, modern rooms comes with views of the glittering gulf.
And there are two new Five-Star standouts in the United States. On the tiny 141-square-mile Hawaiian isle of Lanai, Four Seasons Resort Lanai offers the exclusivity of a private island alongside amenities like an 18-hole Jack Nicklaus golf course (Bill Gates got married at the stunning 12th hole overlooking crashing waves).Salamander Resort Spa, an elegant equestrian-themed countryside getaway outside of D.C.was inspired by the home of Sheila C. Johnson, founder of the Salamander Hotels Resorts group and co-founder of BET.The final tally was 21 new Five-Star, 49 new Four-Star and 62 new Recommended hotels.

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