HH Sheikh Ahmed Bin Saeed Al Maktoum Praises Film Festival Team for Operational Readiness

Fri Dec 03,2004

His Highness Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, Chairman of the Dubai International Film Festival, visited the DIFF offices at Dubai Media City yesterday for a final overview of Festival operations five days prior to its opening on Monday, December 6. He congratulated members of the DIFF team on their exhaustive readiness efforts, and expressed his confidence in a successful inaugural Festival.

Dubai Media City, ardent followers of the workplace philosophy espoused by Stephen C. Lundin’s bestselling book “Fish!”, turned the Dubai Media City board room into a real live fish market for the final DIFF Steering Committee meeting, and provided a sumptuous seafood buffet for the occasion.

Sheikh Ahmed, President of the Department of Civil Aviation and Chairman of the Emirates Group, congratulated the DIFF team on all the efforts involved in building a winning Festival. He also congratulated Ahmed Bin Byat, Director-General of the Technology and Media Free Zone Authority (TECOM), and Abdulhamid Juma, CEO of Dubai Media City.

“When Dubai does anything, it does it well, and always reaches for the skies,” Sheikh Ahmed told members of the DIFF Steering Committee. “I am sure the Festival will be a successful event, especially with all the hard work that has gone into it. We will use this first year to build a strong foundation for years to come.”

Festival Director and CEO Neil Stephenson thanked Sheikh Ahmed for attending the crucial steering committee meeting and called on the heads of the Festival’s operational teams to present detailed readiness reports on the state of the Festival.

“Sheikh Ahmed has been involved personally and directly with this Festival since the very early planning in early 2002,” Stephenson said. “He attended our first DIFF Steering Committee meeting in November 2003, and has been with us every step of the way since then. His dedication to this Festival and to the cause of building bridges through film has been a driving force for all of us and we thank him for all his support. This Festival is very lucky to have such a supportive Chairman.”

Sheikh Ahmed then received updates from the various DIFF operations teams dedicated to managing the Festival’s venues, theatre operations, technical and logistics aspects, print traffic, box office, IT operations, administration, guest relations, marketing, security and volunteer mobilization.

As part of Festival planning, hand-picked professional projectionists and other technical staffers are being flown in from established North American and European Film Festivals. Almost all the Festival films have also been inspected and prepared for screening, and the construction and upgrade of the Festival screening venues is also underway.

Hospitality arrangements have also been made for the more than 500 Festival guests – including filmmakers, actors, industry guests and VIPs – who are flying into the UAE for the Festival.

The Festival box office, which opened to the public on Sunday, has seen tremendous success with more than eight percent of total public seats sold within one day. The fully operational Call Centre, open from 8 am until midnight seven days a week, has also been averaging 500 calls a day from within the UAE and overseas.

Volunteers have also come forward in the hundreds, the majority of them young national women from the Higher Colleges of Technology and Zayed University. So far, more than 200 young men and women have been enlisted and deputed to handle key venues including the theatres, Festival headquarters at the Madinat Jumeirah and Dubai International Airport, and more are enrolling every day.

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.

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.

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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