Dubai Film Festival's annual charity gala
More than US$1 million was raised at the Dubai Film Festival's annual charity gala on Wednesday night.
Now in its third year, the dinner and auction were held under the patronage of the UN messenger of peace, Princess
Haya bint Al Hussein, wife of Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President and Ruler of Dubai.
Proceeds from the One Night to Change Lives fundraiser went to Dubai Cares and Oxfam to support their work in Syria.
"This charity event presents a great opportunity to everyone interested in supporting Syria's displaced children and their families,” said Tariq Al Gurg, chief executive of Dubai Cares.
"We currently are reaching more than eight million children in 31 developing countries, promoting quality primary education through integrated, sustainable and impactful programmes that eliminate the obstacles that prevent children from going to school and learning.”
Television presenter Raya Abi Rached and British musician Goldie helped with the auction, taking to the microphone to encourage attendees to dig deep for a good cause.
One guest at the event, at the Armani Hotel in the Burj Khalifa, paid US$430,000 (Dh1.58m) for a limited-edition Aston Martin Vanquish. The customised silver car bore the 007 logo on the headrests and had diamond-turned gloss-black wheels.
Another lot was the clapperboard from the film Skyfall, signed by star Daniel Craig, which sold for US$27,000.
Hollywood and Bollywood stars were out in force at the event, with actress Naomie Harris, star of Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom, stealing the show in a Monique Lhullier tangerine lace gown. The actress Rooney Mara chose a custom-made Lanvin creation and styled the look with slick-backed hair and dark red lipstick.
Although not present in person, Hollywood star Scarlett Johansson was there in spirit. Her picture was projected on to the screen and a guest successfully bid US$55,000 for the opportunity to meet her.
The prize includes a trip for two to the US and a red-carpet experience at the premiere of Johansson's new movie, Captain America: The Winter Soldier.
"Scarlett has donated this incredible prize because she has travelled with Oxfam and met refugees from other crises herself and always supports this event,” said Mark Ruffalo, her co-star in The Avengers, as he took bids.
"She is a passionate advocate for humanitarian aid and I know she will be hoping that this prize will raise big, big money for vital work with Syrian refugees. So please, please make this a really big one – bid whatever you can for this amazing prize.”
Other lots snapped up during the three-course dinner included a painting, Requiem, by the Iranian artist Abolfazl Lireh, which went for US$60,000. Fellow artist Afsaneh Taebi's acrylic masterpiece was donated by the Farjam Foundation and sold for US$35,000.
The highly anticipated donation of a night's stay at Highclere Castle, the house where the popular television series Downton Abbey is filmed, raised US$35,000.
Ticket sales also boosted funds, with guests paying Dh2,000 each to attend the black-tie function held in conjunction with the 10th edition of the festival.
Over the past two years the charity event has raised more than US$2m for worthy causes and has been supported by global stars including Colin Firth, Kristin Davis, Amr Waked, Freida Pinto, Ronan Keating and Rahul Bose.
"The money raised will make a real difference in bolstering Oxfam's response to the deepening crisis in Syria,” said Oxfam's chief executive, Mark Goldring.
"To date, Oxfam has helped more than 220,000 people and we are continuing to expand our response to meet increasing needs but more vital funds are desperately needed.”
Source: The National