Timeframe: When Hollywood A-listers walked the red carpet in Dubai

Dubai International film festival was first held in 2004 and ran for 14 years

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Every year for 14 years, some of the biggest celebrities in film and television would descend on the UAE for the annual Dubai International Film Festival.

The event, which started in 2004, hosted an array of A-list actors and directors, as well as up-and-coming talent from the region to display their latest work.

Commonly referred to as Diff, the festival would become the largest and one of most prestigious in the Middle East. For its first year, the festival screened 76 films, and by its final run in 2017, that number had grown to 141 films.

The festival’s selection usually focused on titles from the region as well as from Africa and Asia, but would also host premieres from Hollywood.

The festival’s star-studded guest list always featured marquee headlining names. The festival’s placement at the end of the year also meant that audiences could expect to see Academy Award contenders screening their films.

In 2017, the film festival opened with Oscar-nominated film The Theory of Everything starring Eddie Redmayne and Felicity Jones. The movie would go on to earn Redmayne an Oscar for his portrayal of the late Stephen Hawking.

Big names such as George Clooney, Cate Blanchett and Omar Sharif made their way to Dubai over the years to walk on the red carpet and meet fans.

Other famous names include Jake Gyllenhaal, Morgan Freeman, Ben and Casey Affleck and Sharon Stone. In 2007, Stone hosted the Amfar charity gala, which raised funds for Aids research.

The stars often hosted Q&A sessions, opened films alongside directors and producers and even attended charity galas.

The film festival would announce that it would stop hosting the event annually in 2017 and would instead move to a biannual schedule. But the plan did not materialise and the festival has not returned since.

Updated: December 15, 2023, 6:14 PM