Dubai Stars open; Sonam Kapoor, Atif Aslam, Balqees and more honoured
Sonam, Atif and Balqees with others
Dubai Star recipients with Emaar officials: Painter Mattar Bin Lahej, footballer Yasser Saeed Al-Qahtani, actor Ahmed Helmy, actor Sonam Kapoor, General Manager, Downtown Dubai, Shymaa Binbrek, Vice Chairman, Emaar Jamal Majid Bin Theniyah, singer Balqees Fathi, actor Mona Zaki, singer Atif Aslam and vlogger Khalid Al Amiri
WE'VE BEEN AWARE of the Dubai Stars walk of fame project for a while now, however yesterday marked the attraction's official opening at a Palace Downtown Hotel press conference attended by awardees including Bollywood's Sonam Kapoor and singers Atif Aslam and Balqees Fathi who was celebrating her 31st birthday. In total eight luminaries from the entertainment world gathered to celebrate the occasion and collect their commemorative plaques.
"Emaar does not just create communities, we strive to create remarkable experiences within these communities," Downtown Dubai General Manager, Shymma Binbrek, said at the event. "The Dubai Stars is a walkable star-studded experience across Downtown Dubai honouring global personalities from all walks of life on their achievements and work."
The site showcases 400 stars awarded to change-makers and eminent personalities within the realms of film, music, arts, literature, sports and social media influence, Binbrek said and, despite a number of the commemorations already being handed out, there is still time to nominate more possible inductees.
"The future of the Dubai Stars is limitless," Binbrek said. "Whether we add more stars or see this attraction grow...we are calling on the public to visit the website and nominate.
"Whose name will you put forward?"
On the nominees' criteria Binbrek's message was positively simple: they must excel in their field.
"We are proud to weave these stars within the fabric of Dubai's history and heritage by honouring their work and legacy."
As one of the octo-champs receiving their recognition on Sunday, The Zoya Factor's Sonam Kapoor Ahuja looked her usual fashion-conscious self at the event in a matching chiffon top and long skirt, highlighted by large rhomboid gold earrings and pendant. Sat demurely on the panel before a radiant smile greeted the handing over of the award, Kapoor told us she was in the dark about the prize until relatively recently.
"I didn't understand this," she said while suppressing a laugh. "I'm so excited that it's happening. I was just happy to be invited. I know that it's prestigious and cool. I haven't actually told any of my friends yet, but now I can tell them back home that it's happened."
A permanent landmark under the world's tallest tower is just the latest achievement for Kapoor whose so far 11-year movie career is highlighted by more than a smattering of trophies including a haul for 2016's Neerja. When it comes to gongs, however, Kapoor remains philosophical.
"I don't think of myself as a 'star'. I'm a little modest about that," she said. "Nothing lasts forever. That's a very Indian way of thinking. You're supposed to go away - the old has to go for the new to come. But, as an actor, you want to go down in posterity some way or the other, so it's a nice feeling. My films are pretty relevant here, so it's nice to have some recognition."
With over a hundred movies in four decades to his name, how does she reckon such sentiments with her father Anil's seemingly endless time at the top?
"My dad's an anomaly! Talent is permanent. If you do good work and it makes a difference, if it makes an impact on the human psyche - my father has a knack for that."
Kapoor told us she has just signed on for two more films but could not reveal a single detail or she'd be in 'trouble.' Even when pressed for a genre: action, comedy, or romance, she could only answer: "It's Bollywood, they're all in one film at the same time!"
Pakistani singer Atif Aslam is no stranger to our city. His multiple concerts resonate with the UAE's population to the extent increasingly large venues are necessary to accommodate the number of fans. From cricket stadia to almost taking over the entire Global Village, the performer who has lent his voice to movies such as Race (2008) and Hindi Medium (2017) can comfortably call Dubai his home base.
"It's a very vibrant city," Aslam said. "This is the only city I think I really enjoy myself walking on the streets. I have played for 150,000 people here, so it has a lot of good will.
"We, South Asians, especially Pakistanis and Indians - we're everywhere, but this is one place where we are a lot. So I really love the fact my music is heard over here."
Aslam's wife shared in his excitement at being awarded a Dubai Star and the artist said he expected his friends shall too. On what he'll do the first time he sees the tribute face to face (as it were), Aslam has a plan.
"I'll just stand there and say 'yes!'
"It's like the Hollywood Walk Of Fame so it's quite a big deal. I have been chosen from a lot of people and I'm blessed to be among these people. It means a lot."
Why does he believe he has been picked? Apparently it is all about traversing boundaries. "Music has always connected people and has crossed cultures. I started in Pakistan, went to India and it has now gone global."
Balqees Fathi on what a Dubai Star means to her
Birthday girl Balqees is one of the UAE's foremost singers making her a shoo-in for a Dubai Star.
"I'm very flattered and very honoured to be part of this amazing panel of artists and influencers," she said. "I am also very thankful because I'm being appreciated in a place where I was born and raised. UAE, thank you very much for boosting the energy to do even more in my field and industry."
Khalid Al Amiri on his award
"First of all I'm still digesting it all. I can't believe I'm sitting on this stage with all these stars. My wife and I are huge fans of Balqees. There are some global icons here; I'm the little guy. I'm just proud of all the work we've done as a family to represent the UAE. To share our stories with the world, to share how amazing this country is. To share the work we're doing as a country to make this globe better - to bring communities together. I want to thank everyone for recognising the little guy and the impact we can have on the world no matter how big our audience is."
Mona Zaki on her Dubai Star
It's exciting to have this event for all artists. It's honouring to feel somebody recognises what you do and does this beautiful star. To recognise international artists in the Middle East, I think that's why Dubai is such an important place. it appreciates a lot of people not only from the Middle East but all over.