Arab Superstar Omar Sharif Praises Dubai International Film Festival

Tue Nov 30,2004

Egyptian superstar Omar Sharif, who will be honored at the inaugural Dubai International Film Festival next week, yesterday heaped praise on the Festival and its aims, and wished Dubai every success in the days ahead.

In an interview with Dubai Eye, part of Festival sponsor Dubai Radio Network, Sharif said he felt privileged to be the first actor honored at the Festival.

“When I first heard about the celebration of my films, I was very honored and very happy,” he told the station while filming in Italy. “I have been to Dubai, and I think it is the most extraordinary city, like something miraculous from the future.”

Sharif, widely regarded as the Arab world’s major international superstar, is best known for his work in such classics as Lawrence of Arabia and Doctor Zhivago. A special segment of the Festival has been dedicated to him, and includes the screenings of both classics as well as the Omar Sharif-Barbra Streisand musical Funny Girl and his recent film Monsieur Ibrahim.

“It is our great pleasure to salute Omar Sharif in this way at the first Dubai International Film Festival,” said Abdulhamid Juma, CEO of Dubai Media City. “He is truly one of the finest Arab and international stars.”

Neil Stephenson, Festival CEO and Director, echoed those sentiments. “Omar Sharif blazed a trail for the Arab world, and showed the world the heart of Arabia,” he said. “He is a living example of successful culture-bridging, and it is only fitting that we pay tribute to him in a Festival dedicated to building bridges.”

Sharif also applauded DIFF’s main theme of bridging cultures and meeting minds, and stressed the importance of the Festival as an opportunity to connect the world.

“At this moment, we absolutely need this bridging between East and West, North and South, between our culture and the Occidental culture,” he said in the 17-minute interview. “It’s a great thing to have a big festival in Dubai because Dubai is the crossroads of the world’s cultures, completely Oriental and completely Arab in its soul, and yet it can also receive all cultures and all Occidental people and they don’t feel out of place. It’s the best place to have a Film Festival, and I hope it will do really well. I’m sure it will.”

“With opportunities like this, we will begin to understand each other more and exchange our thoughts and share our humanity more,” he added.

“Omar Sharif: A Celebration” begins on the second day of the Festival with the screening of ‘Lawrence of Arabia’ at 7 pm on Tuesday, December 7. The film is part of the “Screen on the Green” series and will be shown on a giant screen set up at Dubai Media City’s open-air amphitheater.

Other films in the series include: Doctor Zhivago, screening at 7.30 pm on Wednesday, December 8, at Cinema 3 in the Mercato Mall; Funny Girl, screening at 6 pm on Thursday, December 9, at Cinema 4 in the Mercato Mall; and Monsieur Ibrahim, screening at 6.30 pm on Friday, December 10 at Cinema 4 in the Mercato Mall.

Three box offices are currently open for business: at the CNN Building Lobby in Dubai Media City from 11 am to 6 pm until December 6, and until 8 pm during the Festival; at the Madinat Theatre in the Souk at Madinat Jumeirah from 11 am to 9 pm until December 6 and until 10.30 pm during the Festival; and at the Mercato mall from 10 am to 6.30 pm until December 6, and until 10.30 pm during the Festival.

Additional box offices will open on December 7 at the Madinat Arena, and at the Auditorium at the Jumeirah Beach Hotel on December 8.

Prices range from Dh. 10 for the four open-air “Screen on the Green” films at the Dubai Media City amphitheater to Dh. 20 for regular screenings at DIFF main venues and Dh. 50 for the red-carpet gala screenings at the Madinat Arena, Madinat Jumeirah Arabian Resort-Dubai. Two special offers – student discounts and a Five-Flick deal that offers a set of five regular screening tickets for the price of four – have also been created to make the Festival accessible to all UAE residents and visitors.

Telephone bookings and orders can be made with the Box Office on (04) 367 6701 / (04) 367 6707 for advance bookings and directions to box office venues.

The Dubai International Film Festival will be held between December 6 and 11, 2004, and will feature approximately 75 films including features, retrospectives and short films. The Festival is divided into 10 distinct programs, each focusing on a particular Festival theme. DIFF is presented by Dubai Media City and its presenting sponsors are Dubai Duty Free, Emirates, Madinat Jumeirah Arabian Resort-Dubai, and Nakheel.  DIFF Gold Sponsors are DOM International, The Kanoo Group and National Bank of Dubai, and Silver Sponsors are Arabian Radio Network, Atlas Telecom, Dubai Radio Network, E-Vision and Motivate Publishing.

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