Dubai's futuristic cityscape is the kind of place Star Trek's Captain James T Kirk would have felt at home, says the man who made the role famous, William Shatner.
Speaking as the star guest at the Middle East Film & Comic Con yesterday, the Canadian actor said the city was like something created by a science fiction writer.
"It is out of someone's futuristic imagination. It is an extraordinary city,” he said. "All this is out of people's imagination of what the future is like.”
Shatner was one of several stars who appeared in panel discussions at the second day of the conference at the Dubai World Trade Centre.
Now in its fourth year, thousands of fans of geek culture, some dressed as their favourite film or comic-book characters, attended.
Shatner, who played Kirk in the original Star Trek series nearly 50 years ago and starred in films based on the franchise, said he was impressed by the huge turnout.
"There were Comic Cons years ago, and the people who attended were mostly Star Trek fans,” he said.
"Now this thing has exploded and, now, a Middle East Comic Con is unprecedented. I hear there are so many more people this year than in the past.”
He believed that comics and sci-fi, which were once considered geeky, are now part of mainstream culture.
"It's a fascination with science fiction and other entities, horror, comic books, gaming, and animation,” he said. "These subjects stir your imagination and I imagine that's what the fascination is.”
Other guests included the British actress Hayley Atwell, who plays Agent Peggy Carter in the Marvel films and TV shows.
She believed that women were finally getting a fair shot at playing superheroes.
"I think it is getting better, but it is a very complex conversation because it's very much about what the audiences want as well as what the industry is providing,” she said.
"I felt with Agent Carter, it was part of a quieter revolution for mapping the way for other women to have more female-led roles.”
She said that the feedback on the Agent Carter spin-off series had been extremely positive.
"The character is full of positive messages about self worth and self esteem, which is something that I think the world wants more of now. It's going to take sometime until we are where we should be.”
Other celebrities who spoke during the day included Sam Jones, who played Flash Gordon in the eponymous 1980s film, and Angelica Bridges, who rose to fame as Taylor Walsh on Baywatch and is currently starring as Poison Ivy in the Batgirl Rises TV show.
Meanwhile, Gillian Anderson, best known as FBI Special Agent Dana Scully from the TV series X-Files, is due to make an appearance today.
Simran Saraf, 16, was dressed as Maleficent from the movie Maleficent, the latest rendition of Sleeping Beauty.
"Maleficent is one of my favourite movies, I was not a fan of the original one. In this movie, they did justice to Maleficent, the villain. They explained why she was the way she was, and that one is never purely evil,” she said.
Her friend, Ananya Jain, 16, said she was there to see what people are playing and check out the latest merchandise.
"I'm not dressed up, but I like seeing what the people are wearing, the same thing I did last year.”
Meanwhile, Diana Zahraeddine, 14, said she was keen to meet some of the celebrities.
"This is my third time here, and I'm here for the competitive gaming,” she said. "Depending on what the timings are, I would also like to see and meet some of the famous people.”
Source: The National