Sarah Ferguson, Natalie Imbruglia, Madeline Stowe, Susan Sarandon, Ben Stiller and Caroline Stanbury Image Credit: Antonin Kélian Kallouche/Gulf News

Hundreds of thousands of dollars were raised at the star-studded Bovet 1822 Brilliant is Beautiful gala in Dubai on Friday evening, to benefit the Artists for Peace and Justice (APJ) and Dubai Cares organisations, with an emphasis on the global right to education.

Actors Susan Sarandon and Ben Stiller, who are co-chairs of APJ, led the red carpet at the Grand Millennium Hotel, where Stiller spoke to Gulf News tabloid! about his recent appointment as a UN Goodwill Ambassador.

“The role is really to spread the word and be a voice for people who don’t have a voice, who are refugees around the world, who are displaced people, who are trying to really get back to their homes but have been displaced due to war or persecution. There’s 68 million people in the world who are dealing with that issue. [We want] to show that refugees are people and human beings not to be feared, but to connect with and not to build walls to keep out,” said Stiller.

Sarandon, who was named a UN Goodwill Ambassador in 1999, said that she would love to team up with Stiller on assignments going forward.

The role is really to spread the word and be a voice for people who don’t have a voice, who are refugees around the world, who are displaced people, who are trying to really get back to their homes but have been displaced due to war...

- Ben Stiller, Actor

“One thing that happens when you go into a really a devastated area, it’s so overwhelming. The first time I went out was in Tanzania and my assignment was to talk about the aids crisis in Sub-Saharan Africa, and it’s pretty overwhelming. I would’ve loved to have somebody there as a team member… so I said to [Ben], we should try to be a duo and start hitting some of these places together, because you can ask a lot of questions, and if you had a man and a woman, it would be a very interesting combination. I’m hoping we can do that — I would love that. But he knows how to handle himself, he’s really smart,” said Sarandon.

Actress Madeline Stowe, Sarah Ferguson, Duchess of York, and Dubai-based personality Caroline Stanbury were also in attendance. ‘Torn’ singer Natalie Imbruglia performed at the event.

Ferguson, who has a rich history in opening schools worldwide, said the funds raised at the gala can help build on her own work with primary education students, and give those young girls a place to go afterwards.

“It’s giving young people a chance to really, really understand that they’re being listened to. There’s [millions of] children who don’t go to school in the world. It’s unacceptable. I feel strongly with Dubai Cares and with APJ, this is secondary education, we can really give children and young girls a chance to be educated,” said Ferguson.

Auction pieces included a Golden Globe experience, an opportunity to meet actor Sean Penn and Ferguson for afternoon tea in London, a painting by Faiza Shaikha and bespoke trips to the Seychelles and the French Alps.

Securing the highest bid was an artwork by contemporary British artist Sacha Jafri, which was finished live at the event with the assistance of Stiller, Sarandon, Ferguson Stowe and Stanbury.

The evening was dubbed a success, though the exact amount fundraised had not been announced when tabloid! reached out.