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Aladdin live-action remake: Disney slammed for casting Naomi Scott as Jasmine

It looks like the trouble has not ended for the makers of Aladdin just yet. Guy Ritchie’s live-action remake of the Middle-Eastern folktale is now receiving flak for casting Naomi Scott as Jasmine. Scott, who is of Indian and British heritage, has been signed to play the Arabic princess and people are not happy. Disney has, however, cast Mena Massoud to play Aladdin. Massoud is of Egyptian descent, which makes one think why they could not find an Arabic actress to play Jasmine.

Naomi Scott. Image from Twitter.

Guy Ritchie was reportedly finding it difficult to cast Arabic actors for the role. The roles also required the actor to also be able to sing. Although Scott is both an actor and a singer, fact remains that the Arab is being misrepresented. Some people have also come to the actress’ rescue by pointing out that Will Smith, who has been cast as Jafar, “ain’t blue either”.

We are not quite sure where Disney would have found someone with blue skin like Jafar, because as far as we understand, such people do not exist. There are clearly a lot of (uninformed) opinion on the issue.

Twitterati was quick to express their displeasure with Disney not being able to find an actress-singer of Arabic descent for a role that is so significant to their culture. Although, Aladdin is set in the fictional town of Agrabah, it is believed that the characters are from the Middle-East.

Here are some tweets from people who complained about the issue:

Published Date: Jul 18, 2017 01:35 pm | Updated Date: Jul 18, 2017 01:35 pm

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AAP MLAs seeking appointment with LG 'ousted' by police: Somnath Bharti

AAP MLAs Somnath Bharti, S K Bagga were forced out of Anil Baijal’s house after they refused to leave following a meeting.

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AAP MLAs forced out of L-G's house

AAP MLAs Somnath Bharti, S K Bagga were forced out of Anil Baijal’s house after they refused to leave following a meeting.

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Delhi

Peek raises $23M and inks partnership with Google in push to digitize travel activities

Peek, a U.S. startup aiming to digitize the travel activities industry, has pulled a $23 million Series B round of financing and uncorked a partnership with Google that will help increase its visibility.

Founded in 2012 by Ruzwana Bashir (CEO) and Oskar Bruening (CTO), the startup describes itself as “OpenTable for the activities market” in that it aims to make booking activities as seamless and straightforward as a restaurant or even a flight.

Peek raised $10 million two years ago, and this new round is led by Cathay Innovation with participation from existing backers that include ex-Yelp COO Geoff Donaker, Kayak founder Paul English, 2BF and Manta Ray. Peek has plenty of well-known angel backers, including Pete Flint — founder of Trulia and NFX — former Google executive chairman Eric Schmidt and Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey. This new round takes it to $40 million from investors to date.

In addition to the money, the startup has announced a tie-up with Google that will see its inventory added to Google Search, Google Maps and Google Trips. That’s sure to help visibility and spike bookings, and it adds to other partnerships that Peek has struck with platforms that include Yelp.

Peek is taking aim at the global activities market which Bashir estimates is worth some $150 billion, with the U.S. being the most lucrative market on the planet.

“It hasn’t gone through the analog-to-digital transition like other industries,” she told TechCrunch in an interview. “So we’re building the infrastructure and software that emerged in other industries ten years ago.”

Peek’s business model is similar to two well-backed Asian companies, Klook — which has raised over $90 million from the likes of Sequoia China and Goldman Sachs — and KKDay, which was recently backed by Japanese travel giant H.I.S.. Despite that, Bashir said that the problem of digitizing the space isn’t just limited to Asia or emerging markets.

“When you look at businesses in the U.S., over 70% don’t have real-time online booking, you still have to call the business or email them,” she explained.

That’s an important point, and it underlines the approach that Peek has taken. Unlike its Asia-based rivals, the company has a dual approach which starts by offering booking software that allows travel companies to actually take bookings and sales online. It also allows them to run their businesses from mobile, which is increasingly important.

That’s the hook that gets them into Peek, and from there the company offers more services under its ‘Pro’ offering and also the consumer-facing platform that travelers (or, rather, action-seekers) can use to book activities. That distinction about ‘travelers’ is important since Bashir said that around one-third of Peek bookings come from people doing things in their own town, so not everyone is traveling.

Peek founders Oskar Bruening and Ruzwana Bashir.

Peek claims to offer 10,000 experiences in the U.S. and Mexico, while it has 500,000 reviews and ratings which are verified since users can only leave them if they have booked, paid-for and done their activity.

Bashir said, in addition, that the company’s software has scaled to handle “hundreds of millions of dollars” in booking volume. She declined to give specific financial details, including revenue and profit/loss, but did say that the company’s unit economics are “highly profitable” but it is seeking growth right now.

“Part of this round is allowing ourselves to go out and reach more businesses,” she added.

For now, Peek is keeping its focus on the U.S. but it has also expanded into Mexico since that is a well-trodden destination for U.S.-based travelers. That focus will continue following this round, with Bashir adamant that with an estimated two percent of activity spend taking place online, there’s plenty of potential growth to be had at home before tackling international markets.

She did, however, say that the decision to work with Cathay Innovation — which raised its inaugural $320 million fund last year — was partly borne out of an awareness that when it is time to overseas, the firm has experience and networks that will be helpful.

News Source = techcrunch.com

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