Eva Longoria’s motto when it comes to her charitable work is “We like to put the fun back into fundraising” and she put that into practise on Sunday night at her second Global Gift Gala benefit in Dubai on the sidelines of the Dubai International Film Festival (Diff).
The gala, held at a rooftop venue at Meydan with stunning views of the Dubai skyline, included a dinner, performances from Cody Wise, Walid Toufiq, Tallia Storm and Alexandra Burke, and the real money-spinner — an auction of once-in-a-lifetime experiences and luxury items.
Dubai’s top VIPs and socialites packed the Dh2,500-a-seat dinner, feasting on a salmon starter and truffled roast chicken as they waved their hands in the air to bid for lots including a sculpture by the son of actor Anthony Quinn, Lorenzo. The metal eye, titled Emotions-Alusma went for $55,000 (Dh202,016).
“As Americans people have a perception of what Dubai is,” said Longoria in a speech earlier in the evening. “We think the streets are paved with gold and it’s an amazing place to be... at the heart of the UAE, at the heart of the structure of this government, there is compassion built into the DNA of what it means to be a citizen of this community. People don’t know that enough about the Middle East, people don’t know that enough about the UAE and how compassionate people are here.”
Money raised from the event went to three charities: Dubai Cares, which provides education to children in the developing world; the Sunrise K Foundation, to help children with the eye condition glaucoma, and the actress’ own Eva Longoria Foundation, which provides education and micro loans to Latinas in the United States.
Clad in a yellow lace dress by Kuwaiti couture designer Ali Younes, Longoria got on the central stage to encourage bidding on the Eva Longoria Experience at the Monaco Grand Prix. “I’m a lot of fun!” she hollered. “Ask anyone!” Unsurprisingly, there was heavy bidding on the lot, which included business class flights, a spot on a yacht moored metres from the track’s chicane, lunch with Longoria, among other race fun.
It eventually sold for a snip — $45,000.
Designer Younes also contributed a dress to the auction, covered with two million Swarovski crystals, which also sold for $45,000.
The biggest item of the night was a trip to the edge of space, selling for $80,000.
The Global Gift Gala takes place in six cities around the world each year — Dubai, London, Mexico City, Marbella, Paris and Cannes, with Miami, Istanbul, Moscow and Los Angeles being added next year. A charity fundraiser is an annual event at Diff and 2014 is the second time they have partnered with the Global Gift Gala.
“We are really lucky to be partnering with Diff, thank you for having the vision to have a philanthropic arm to a film festival,” said Longoria.