Champ of the Camp, and also of UAE cinemas

When cinemagoers across the UAE debate what film to see this weekend, one of their options will be a homegrown offering. Champ of the Camp, Mahmoud Kaabour's uplifting feature film about a singing competition held in a Dubai labour camp, is not just a heartening account of talent shining through adversity but also marks the first time a homegrown film has been given a full UAE cinema release.

This is clearly good news for Mr Kaabour, a 34-year-old Beirut-born filmmaker who runs UAE-based Veritas Films, not least because ticket sales will mean the film is now likely to recoup its $350,000 (Dh1.3 million) budget. But it is equally good news for the fledgling film industry in the Emirates, for which the cinema release on seven screens in Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Sharjah, Fujairah and Al Ain shows that significant progress is being made to create a genuine and sustainable industry.

As with most breakthroughs, the success of Champ of the Camp belies the skill, hard work, dedication and risk that led to this point. Mr Kaabour had previously earned both applause and awards for his 2004 film, Being Osama, in which he documents the experiences of six Montreal men with the same first name as the Al Qaeda leader. It was followed in 2010 by Teta, Alf Marra (Grandma, a Thousand Times), a 50-minute film about a feisty Beiruti grandmother that was the first feature to be released by a company based in Twofour54, Abu Dhabi’s media content creation freezone. It too won plaudits and prizes.

But even after that success, he had to resort to Aflamnah, a UAE crowdsourcing site, to raise finance to publicise his latest film.

Champ of the Camp represents many of the reasons why a film industry is being fostered here: it gives experience to those who already have talent and enthusiasm, it helps create a centre of expertise in the UAE that aids the goal of establishing a knowledge economy and it tells our stories, rather than reflecting the mores of Hollywood, Bollywood or Pinewood.

Abu Dhabi has already successfully invested in films such as The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel through The National’s sister company, Imagenation. But the real fruits of its investment in films will appear when local filmmakers like Mr Kaabour leverage this latest breakthrough into even greater success.

Confirmed bouts (more to be added)

Cory Sandhagen v Umar Nurmagomedov
Nick Diaz v Vicente Luque
Michael Chiesa v Tony Ferguson
Deiveson Figueiredo v Marlon Vera
Mackenzie Dern v Loopy Godinez

Tickets for the August 3 Fight Night, held in partnership with the Department of Culture and Tourism Abu Dhabi, went on sale earlier this month, through and

Living in...

This article is part of a guide on where to live in the UAE. Our reporters will profile some of the country’s most desirable districts, provide an estimate of rental prices and introduce you to some of the residents who call each area home. 

Tailors and retailers miss out on back-to-school rush

Tailors and retailers across the city said it was an ominous start to what is usually a busy season for sales.
With many parents opting to continue home learning for their children, the usual rush to buy school uniforms was muted this year.
“So far we have taken about 70 to 80 orders for items like shirts and trousers,” said Vikram Attrai, manager at Stallion Bespoke Tailors in Dubai.
“Last year in the same period we had about 200 orders and lots of demand.
“We custom fit uniform pieces and use materials such as cotton, wool and cashmere.
“Depending on size, a white shirt with logo is priced at about Dh100 to Dh150 and shorts, trousers, skirts and dresses cost between Dh150 to Dh250 a piece.”

A spokesman for Threads, a uniform shop based in Times Square Centre Dubai, said customer footfall had slowed down dramatically over the past few months.

“Now parents have the option to keep children doing online learning they don’t need uniforms so it has quietened down.”


Director: Nikhil Nagesh Bhat

Starring: Lakshya, Tanya Maniktala, Ashish Vidyarthi, Harsh Chhaya, Raghav Juyal

Rating: 4.5/5


Company name: Klipit

Started: 2022

Founders: Venkat Reddy, Mohammed Al Bulooki, Bilal Merchant, Asif Ahmed, Ovais Merchant

Based: Dubai, UAE

Industry: Digital receipts, finance, blockchain

Funding: $4 million

Investors: Privately/self-funded

The Ashes

First Test, Brisbane: Australia won by 10 wickets
Second Test, Adelaide: Australia won by 120 runs
Third Test, Perth: Australia won by an innings and 41 runs
Fourth Test: Melbourne: Drawn
Fifth Test: Australia won by an innings and 123 runs


Hoffenheim v Liverpool
Uefa Champions League play-off, first leg
Location: Rhein-Neckar-Arena, Sinsheim
Kick-off: Tuesday, 10.45pm (UAE)


Euro 2020 qualifier

Russia v Scotland, Thursday, 10.45pm (UAE)

TV: Match on BeIN Sports 

Getting there

The flights

Flydubai operates up to seven flights a week to Helsinki. Return fares to Helsinki from Dubai start from Dh1,545 in Economy and Dh7,560 in Business Class.

The stay

Golden Crown Igloos in Levi offer stays from Dh1,215 per person per night for a superior igloo; 

Panorama Hotel in Levi is conveniently located at the top of Levi fell, a short walk from the gondola. Stays start from Dh292 per night based on two people sharing; www.

Arctic Treehouse Hotel in Rovaniemi offers stays from Dh1,379 per night based on two people sharing;

Where to apply

Applicants should send their completed applications - CV, covering letter, sample(s) of your work, letter of recommendation - to Nick March, Assistant Editor in Chief at The National and UAE programme administrator for the Rosalynn Carter Fellowships for Mental Health Journalism, by 5pm on April 30, 2020

Please send applications to and please mark the subject line as “Rosalynn Carter Fellowship for Mental Health Journalism (UAE programme application)”.

The local advisory board will consider all applications and will interview a short list of candidates in Abu Dhabi in June 2020. Successful candidates will be informed before July 30, 2020. 


Name: SmartCrowd
Started: 2018
Founder: Siddiq Farid and Musfique Ahmed
Based: Dubai
Sector: FinTech / PropTech
Initial investment: $650,000
Current number of staff: 35
Investment stage: Series A
Investors: Various institutional investors and notable angel investors (500 MENA, Shurooq, Mada, Seedstar, Tricap)

The Specs

Engine: 1.6-litre 4-cylinder petrol
Power: 118hp
Torque: 149Nm
Transmission: Six-speed automatic
Price: From Dh61,500
On sale: Now

UAE currency: the story behind the money in your pockets

Starring: Lupita Nyong'o, Joseph Quinn, Djimon Hounsou

Director: Michael Sarnoski

Rating: 4/5