'Our current project involves 'Search for a Star,' said Michelle Nickelson of NEG, the exciting new film production company based in Abu Dhabi. 'We're looking for an actress to play an action hero in our upcoming film...

By Robert Flemming (Staff Reporter)

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Published: Sat 17 Dec 2005, 12:37 PM

Last updated: Thu 2 Apr 2015, 2:50 PM

and thought that it would be interesting to find someone from the region as opposed to bringing in a Hollywood actress.'

Recruitment on the internet and through a local paper produced 480 hopefuls who were whittled down to 60 after Michelle and her team had ploughed through the stream of photos and resumes. It's a simple deal (!): you have to be around 30, slim and attractive, fluent in English and move like Lara Croft.

The Dubai Kartdrome was the venue for the first in a series of events in which the girls will compete to prove their worth. The place is awash with attractive women but the star of the show from their point of view is Jean Alessi, now driving for Mercedes Benz. His role is to show them what to do on the track and enjoy the adulation.

Reality TV may be common in the States but it's pretty new to the UAE. For the first time the girls will be exposed to the harsh gaze of the public eye and they need to perform.

'It's like a vetting procedure,' says Bill Baker, responsible for strategic development. 'This is only the first event but there will be a lot more. We plan to have one at the Polo Club, Ski Dubai and one at the Police Academy in Abu Dhabi. They have an assault course down there and the girls will have to learn to shoot. Anyone who says, 'I don't do that' or 'what about my nails?' — they get cut out.'

'I think they're looking for an Angelina Jolie type,' says livewire Christiana from Cyprus. 'Someone who has personality, good looking and has guts. I fill the bill 100 per cent.'

Of the chosen 60, Fatema Hadroom is the only true local. Born in Ras Al Khaimah, she now works in Dubai for an oil company.

'These chances don't happen often and who wouldn't be interested in Hollywood? It's something very different and not many people are doing it especially in this part of the world apart from Omar Sharif. It's challenging and it's big and that's what makes it interesting.'

But there's more in Fatema's eyes than the shine of stardom.

'I'd be very proud to represent my country, to be the one from UAE playing leading roles in movies and this will give me an advantage. I want to benefit my country in the long run and that could be done by maybe having an influence in some way; helping the country somehow benefiting the people. It is something I would love to do. The western world doesn't know much of the good side of this part of the world. What's being publicised is that it's a war zone, terrorism, etc. But if you lived here you'd know that there are so many people who are just normal. We work, we play, we have fun. Being connected with Hollywood and interacting with people across the media would give them an example of an Arab Muslim woman. It would tell them how very similar we all are.'

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