A film promoting Dubai's bid to host the Expo 2020 world fair has won a prestigious Silver Dolphin award in Cannes.
Ali’s Film, starring Emirati teenager Ahmed Al Dahouri, 15, picked up the prize at the Cannes Corporate Media and TV Awards in southern France.
Millions have seen the short film, about a 10-year-old boy from Ras Al Khaimah who compares his grandfather’s image of Dubai with his modern one.
Its young star is no stranger to accolades – he was the lead in The Turtle, which took the Golden Dolphin at Cannes last year.
But he did not know about the Silver Dolphin until being contacted by The National.
“I am very surprised and proud,” Ahmed said. “Making this film was fun, entertaining and interesting.”
Ali's Film was first screened at the General Assembly of the Bureau of International Expositions, the world body responsible for Expo, in June 2012 last year and became the video used to introduce Dubai's bid.
Ahmed’s starring role came about purely by chance.
“I was responsible for showing the production company in charge of creating the Expo films around the UAE,” said his father, Mohammed Ali Al Dahouri.
“I decided to take Ahmed along and the team instantly liked him.”
Ahmed said: “I was translating for my father and they liked the way I communicated.”
He took part in Expo 2020 Dubai presentations in Shanghai in 2010 and in Seoul last year.
“The journeys gave me self-confidence and experience in acting,” Ahmed said.
Mr Al Dahouri praised his son as a naturally talented actor.
“Ahmed didn’t need any training,” he said. “He always communicated well and acting came naturally to him.”
Mr Al Dahouri supports his son’s acting career – but school has to come first.
"Any involvement he has that serves his country well and promotes and advances the UAE has my full backing," his father said.
Ahmed agrees with his father, and aspires to become an engineer as well as an actor.
He also plans to share his acting knowledge with his younger sister, who is also involved in the Expo bid.
“Sara has a good voice and she is doing some recordings for the Expo,” Ahmed said.
“She is starting her career at 10, which is exactly when I started mine, so I want to pass to her all that I know.”
Ahmed believes Dubai has an excellent chance of winning the bid for Expo 2020, which will be decided next month in Paris.
“I would say Dubai has a 95 per cent chance to win because it is the perfect city to host this event,” he said.
This year’s Cannes Corporate Media and TV Awards on Thursday received a record 719 submissions from 40 countries.