He wasn’t on the guest list and he certainly wasn’t invited, but Donald Trump made a surprise appearance at the Global Education and Skills Forum in Dubai on Saturday.
The president of the United States opined that he “Didn’t think there ever been so many people at a conference before,” predicting “there’s gotta be 50 million people at this conference".
Turning to those who might suggest his audience was no more than 200 people, he called them “Such dishonest people” and adding: “There’s gotta be ten thousand people in this studio.”
And then, after less then 30 seconds, he was gone, to be replaced by Rory Bremner, the British entertainer who has an uncanny ability to bring the great and the good (and the not so good) into any of his shows.
A highlight of this year’s education forum is a series of TV chat shows fronted by Bremner with many of the celebrity guests at the forum and broadcast live on YouTube.
It meant further interruptions by the likes of the British foreign secretary Boris Johnson, President Bill Clinton, the naturalist and Blue Planet presenter David Attenborough, and even cricketing legends Richie Benaud and Geoffrey Boycott.
Notably absent was perhaps Bremner’s greatest feat of mimicry, an uncanny impersonation of Tony Blair, the former British prime minister.
Since the former Middle East peace envoy is another - real - guest at the forum, their expected showdown on Sunday is likely to cause some confusion.
For the YouTube broadcasts, a special theatre has been built at the Atlantis hotel on the Palm, with all the familiar elements of a TV chatshow, with sofas and a house band called “The Ambassadors” and even a fake brick back wall.
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For the second show, Bremner’s guests included the Pakistani fast bowler Wasim Akram, who talked about his battle with diabetes (and his new cologne Wasim Akram 414), and the historian Simon Schama, who spoke of his childhood (and his new BBC TV series).
They were joined on the sofa by Julia Gillard, the former prime minister of Australia, and the biggest name, Oscar winning actor and producer Charlize Theron, whose Africa Outreach Program supports the fight against HIV/Aids.
The South African born actor also spoke of the importance of improving education for girls and young women, saying: “If we want to continue this empowerment movement…we have to look at those young girls and eliminate the vulnerabilities that they are in, and I think education is one of the biggest things that will eliminate them.
She also addressed the childhood tragedy that saw her mother shoot dead her alcoholic father when he attacked her in a drunken rage on their farm near Johannesberg.
Theron, who won the Academy Award for Best Actress in 2004, said of the traumatic death of her father: “I think I made a very conscious effort and choice not to have it define me.”
She added: “It’s really what you chose to do after any kind of tragedy in your life. I grew up in a country where there was a lot of turmoil. I grew up during the apartheid era. I grew up during the beginning of the Aids epidemic.
“I saw a lot violence, I saw a lot of death, I saw a lot of fear, my father dying through a shooting accident.
“And I think all of that stuff is what you kind of take and grow from, and I think in many ways my life has set me up where I am today, for the work that I want to do.
She ended her appearance with an appeal for more resources to be devoted to young people, saying: “We are so neglecting giving the education, and the resources, and the help for young people to come up and be future leaders.