DIFF team praised for operational readiness

DUBAI — Shaikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, Chairman of the Dubai International Film Festival (DIFF), 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.

By A Staff Reporter

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Published: Sun 5 Dec 2004, 11:36 AM

Last updated: Thu 2 Apr 2015, 1:23 PM

Shaikh Saeed Al Maktoum, who is also the President of Dubai Department of Civil Aviation and Chairman of Emirates Group, 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 boardroom into a real live fish market for the final DIFF Steering Committee meeting, and provided a sumptuous seafood buffet for the occasion.

Shaikh 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," Shaikh 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.

"Shaikh 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."

Shaikh 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 mobilisation.

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 over 500 Festival guests, including filmmakers, actors, industry guests and VIPs, who are flying into the UAE for the Festival.

The Festival box office, opened to the public on Sunday, has seen tremendous success with more than 80 per cent of total public seats sold in a day. The fully operational Call Centre, open from 8am till 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 hundreds, majority of whom are young national women from the Higher Colleges of Technology and Zayed University. So far, over 200 young men and women have been enlisted and deputed to handle key venues including theatres, Festival headquarters at the Madinat Jumeirah and Dubai International Airport, and more are enrolling every day.



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