Dubai Film Festival Stars from Hollywood to the Middle East At the VIP Gift Lounge

Major celebrities from Hollywood to the Middle East descended on Dubai for a weeklong celebration of film during the 9th Annual Dubai Film Festival. An exclusive VIP and Gifting Lounge awaited such talent as Colin Firth, Cate Blancette, Freida Pinto (Slum Dog Millionaire, Rise of the Planet of the Apes),  and Amr Waked (Salmon Fishing  in Yemen, Syrianna) among others.

Tactical Connections, the team behind the VIP gifting lounge at some of the UAE’s most prestigious events, launched its exclusive concept at Dubai International Film Festival (DIFF) 2013 with an outstanding portfolio of brands. Hollywood and the Middle East’s finest celebrities were impressed with the VIP Lounge and the top names attending the festival received a relaxing and luxurious respite between red carpet and press conference engagements.

Showcasing an impressive collection of local and regional brands, the VIP Lounge was at the  exclusive suite at Al Qasr Hotel at Madinat Jumeirah through 16th December.  With a host of exclusive Middle Eastern and Western brands including bespoke illustrative t-shirts from local Emirati Project T-Junction and authentic and natural FO’AH fragrances from AM Perfumes, Tactical Connections has set the bar high for the variety of brands available to VIP guests at DIFF.

The VIP Lounge also introduced a combination of pamper treatments and gift offerings to celebrities. Bastien Gonzalez helped guests relax by offering manicure and pedicures at the Lounge, which is normally exclusively available at Atlantis, The Palm and One&Only Resorts in Dubai. At home, guests will be able to indulge with Graceful Hands Delight, a decadent hand cream and ‘One&Only Red’ nail lacquer, designed exclusively for One&Only Resorts.

Celebrities also have the opportunity to try the stunning avant-garde designs from popular Emirati designer Malaak, including the chance to view her new range of abayas and red carpet accessories. The young designer   also provided one of her signature dresses to Cate Blanchett with hopes of seeing it on a red carpet !

“We are delighted to have expanded our VIP Lounge premise to this year’s Dubai International Film Festival,” said Katherine Raso, Director of Marketing and Communications at Tactical Communications. “We’ve put together an inspired collection of brands that offer a unique mix of Middle Eastern culture with Western glamour, as befitting one of Dubai’s most exclusive and established celebrity events.”

Sustainable Commitment

As part of Tactical Connections’ core commitment to sustainability and community relations the company has teamed up with social enterprise Ethical Muse during DIFF. The partnership sees Tactical Connections support ethical muse’s efforts to encourage economic stability for people in emerging countries and improve humanitarian efforts across Ethiopia and Uganda. As part of their work, ethical muse empowers individuals to create accessories made from recycled and sustainable materials. This in turn helps create employment and sustainability for those living in emerging countries, with a percentage of the profits from the handmade products going towards wider global and social causes.

The result is a beautiful selection of unique hand crafted accessories, two of which – a beautiful Dulcie bracelet made from 100 per cent recycled newspaper and magazines, and a unique iPad sleeve made from re-used plastic bags – are on display at the VIP Lounge at DIFF. Each product purchased outside the lounge provides 20 nutritious school meals for the Masooli Community School Project in Uganda which ethical muse work to support.

“CSR is at the core of our business and we are delighted to be working with ethical muse for our CSR programme at the Dubai International Film Festival VIP Lounge,” said Samer Kamal, Managing Director at Tactical Connections. “Every project we undertake is driven by our passion to support local and social causes, and corporate responsibility is always a fundamental basis to our VIP Lounge concept.”

Outstanding brands

Offering an extra touch of creativity, Yasemin Richie, the pioneering British designer behind Storylines, is offering a bespoke range of furniture, and home décor art, inspired by the storylines of classic films. The collection embodies the style of abstract colour and cinema scope design. Throughout DIFF, Storylines will be gifting personalised wall prints with the guest’s favourite films, and an impressive collection of standing print designs personally selected by Yasemin from the Storylines collection.

Demonstrating a selection of innovative facial and body cosmetics, Natura Bisse is gifting celebrities a selection of its unique products that prove to be a firm favourite with VIP’s when travelling non-stop. The pioneering skin care company will also be treating guests to a delicate luminous hand massage.

Nadine and Chirine Sabaiti, the Dubai-based sisters behind the online fashion boutique have designed the official VIP Lounge goody bag for celebrities to collect all their amazing treats from the brands. The two sisters from are also gifting guests a selection of bohemian bracelets that are specifically designed to reflect the regions local style.

For those celebrities that need to take a break from their hectic schedules, Shangri-La Villingili Resort and Spa, Maldives, is offering complimentary treatments and gifts from the Resort and Spa’s finest such as The Essence of Shangri-La, as well as a luxurious one week trip to the Maldives.

Chosen as the official food and beverage partner, OKKU, the luxury Japanese Restaurant, will be wowing celebrities and VIP guests with a selection of its famous signature dishes and award winning food as well as gifting exclusive meals for two. OKKU has successfully established itself as a firm favourite thanks to its seamless blend of exceptional cuisine, music and atmosphere which is set to be a success with the guests.

Not only this but OCÓO, the world’s first delicious Beauty Drink is pre-launching at DIFF VIP Lounge and will be gifting this one-of-a-kind Beauty Drink to celebrities and guests. OCÓO is made with carefully selected red and blue Beauty Berries including; pomegranate, açaí, aronia, black currants, cranberries and red grapes to deliver a high antioxidant burst full of all your daily nutrients.

And if any celebrities and VIP’s have a real sweet tooth, or require a sugar fix in between their DIFF engagements, confection company It’s Sugar are serving up buckets of tasty treats from gummy bears, gobstoppers, sour sweeties, and fizzy cola bottles.


Celebrities at the DIFF VIP Lounge were pampered with the following:   

Shangri-La Villingili Resort and Spa – The first luxury resort in the Maldives south of the equator, will be offering unique treatments and services from the resort’s finest facilities as well as offering a luxurious one week’s trip to the Maldives. – Dubai based sisters and entrepreneurs Nadine and Chirine Sabaiti, first launched in March 2012. Offering a regional twist on bohemian chic and edgy rock, the two sisters will be designing the VIP Lounge goody bags, and gifting a selection of bracelets for celebrities to take home from the lounge.

Bastien Gonzalez - Guests can enjoy Bastien Gonzalez manicures and pedicures, available in Dubai exclusively at Atlantis, The Palm and One&Only Resorts and other luxury hotels and resorts across the world. Unparalleled treatments for feet, nails and hands whose uniqueness lies in the fusion of well-being and beauty. Guests will also be able to indulge at home with Graceful Hands Delight, a decadent hand cream and One&Only Red nail lacquer, designed exclusively for One&Only Resorts. 

OKKU – The luxury Japanese Restaurant has been chosen as the official food and beverage partner for the DIFF VIP Lounge and will be offering all celebrities and guests the finest selection of its famous signature dishes and award winning food as well as gifting meals for two (excluding alcohol).

FO’AH Fragrances – The unique natural FO’AH Fragrances by of AM Perfumes will be gifting VIP guests their favourite fragrance from the exclusive FO’AH range following a one-to-one appointment to ensure the guests receive personal advice when selecting the right scent.

Natura Bisse – The pioneering skincare brand will be offering celebrities and VIP’s a selection of their luxurious facial and skin care products, whilst pampering guests as they tour the lounge.

Malaak – Local fashion favourite Malaak, created by Emirati designer Huda Al Nuami, will be gifting turbans and abayas to celebrities and VIP’s. Malaak will also be on hand to dress and prepare some of the biggest celebrity names for their red carpet walk.

OCÓO The Beauty Drink is the world’s first delicious fruity Beauty Drink that offers active ingredients to boost a balanced dose of the beauty-enhancing vital substances. OCÓO will be gifting the Beauty Drink to celebrities and guests during the DIFF VIP Lounge.

Storylines – The luxury British designer Yasemin Richie will be showcasing her exquisite bespoke Storylines art collection, and personalised wall art for all the guests’ favourite films. Her work has proved to be a firm favourite with a number of her limited edition collections available from Singways and Galleries Lafayette in Dubai.

T-Junction – The Emirati creative project which specialises in illustrative t-shirt designs will be creating special t-shirts for the event, personalized with the names of celebrities in Arabic.

ethical muse – The passionate social enterprise will be providing beautifully handcrafted Dulcie bracelets, made from 100 per cent recycled newspapers and magazines, and a selection of artfully woven iPad sleeves, made from 100 per cent recycled plastic bag materials.



Hollywood  and the Middle East Film Star Attendees

Collin Firth
Colin Andrew Firth,  is an English film, television, and theatre actor. Firth gained wide public attention in the 1990s for his portrayal of Mr. Darcy in the 1995 television adaptation of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice. In 2011, Firth received an Academy Award for his portrayal of King George VI in The King's Speech, a performance that also earned him the Golden Globe, BAFTA and the Screen Actors Guild Awardfor Best Actor, amongst others. The previous year, he received his first Academy Award nomination, for his leading role in A Single Man, a performance that won him a BAFTA Award.

Cate Blanchett
Cate Blanchett is an Australian actress, whose work has earned several accolades, including a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, two Screen Actors Guild Awards, two Golden Globe Awards, two BAFTAs, and an Academy Awards

Freida Pinto
Freida Selena Pinto is an Indian actress and model best known for her portrayal of Latika in the 2008 Academy Award winning film Slumdog Millionaire, for which she won a Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture. After the success of the film she went on to star in the films such as You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger, Miral—in which she played the title character—and the box-office hit Rise of the Planet of the Apes.

Amr Waked

Amr Waked is an Egyptian film, television, and stage actor, known for his roles portraying Middle Eastern and Mediterranean characters. He is best known to international audiences and in Hollywood as the terrorist leader in the  film Syriana and as the star of the film Salmon Fishing in Yemen


Andrew Ralph Adamson
Andrew Ralph Adamson,   Producer of Cirque du Soleil: Worlds Away , is a New Zealand film director, producer and screenwriter based mainly in Los Angeles, where he made the blockbuster animation films, Shrek and Shrek 2 for which he received an Academy Award nomination

Erica Linz Star of of Cirque du Soleil: Worlds Away  

Nermine Al Feki
She is considered as a sex icon in Egypt and the middle east, preferably considered as 'The Egyptian Angelina Jolie" All her television and cinema works were successful and she is notably known for always presenting quality material and never letting her fans down.

Khaled Nebawy
Khaled Muhammad El Nabawy is an Egyptian actor having played roles in film, theater and television. He was born in El Mansoura, Egypt, and was introduced to cinema by the director Youssef Chahine in 1994, in his film Al Mohager

Fatemah Motamed
Fatemeh Motamed-Arya is a multi-award winning  Iranian actress. Motamed-Arya received her degree in Arts. She first got involved in Theater during her teen years.  She has been nominated nine times for best actress at the Fajr International Film Festival and won the Crystal Simorgh four times.

Ali Mustafa
Ali F. Mustafa is a British-Emirati filmmaker, director and producer who is credited as the director of the first Emirati feature-film City of Life. Born in 1981, Mustafa received wide acclaim for his debut in filmmaking; he has been branded as "Best Emirati Filmmaker" in the Dubai International Film Festival (DIFF) and won the 'Young Filmmaker of the Year' award at the Digital Studio Awards 2010.

Mohammad Al Turki
Film producer, Entrepreneur. Philanthropist. Born in Saudi Arabia on 3rd July 1986, Mohammed Al Turki has successfully bridged the entertainment gap between "East and West" through his current and exciting endeavors in Hollywood

Samer Ismail
Well, you might not have heard of him, but you sure know him as Omar in the epic TV drama "Omar". Samer Ismail is a new Syrian actor and his role as the great Islamic Calif Omar is his first major role.

Leila Eloui
Laila Elwi, sometimes credited as Laila Olwy and Laila Elwy, is a famous Egyptian actress. She is of mixed blood. Her father is Egyptian and her mother is Greek

Kerry Fox
Kerry Fox is a New Zealand actress. She came to prominence playing author Janet Frame in the movie An Angel at My Table directed by Jane Campion, which gained her a Best Actress Award from the New Zealand Film and Television Awards

Bryan Ferry British Singer

Nayla Al Khaja
The Dubai Culture & Arts Authority   has commissioned celebrated Emirati filmmakers Ali M Mostafa, Nayla Al Khaja and Khalid Ali to make short films for the Authority’s new cultural initiative, ‘Soul of Dubai.’

Mai Masri
Mai Masri (born 1959) is a U.S.-educated Palestinian filmmaker who has directed eight films.

Layne Redman 
Layne Redman is a British television presenter, writer and actor. He currently lives and works in Dubai for English-language television channel Dubai One presenting Out & About.

İsmail YK   is a Turkish pop musician. Along with his siblings, he has performed in children as Yurtseven Kardeşler (Yurtseven siblings) on. The YK in his stage name suggests.

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