Abu Dhabi: They came dressed to the nines - and in jeans and sports jackets - each there to lend their support and star power to help make the night as memorable as possible.

Stars of Arabic cinema and television were out in full force on Sunday for the Middle East premiere of The Long Night, a highly controversial film by Syrian director Hatem Ali.

The film, which deals with the issue of political prisoners, has yet to be shown in the director's home country as it has not yet been approved by the censors.

Among those who graced the red carpet were members of the cast and crew, including Khaled Taja, whose illustrious career garnered him the title the Arab Anthony Quinn, rising star Basel Khayat, and of course, the renowned actress Amal Arafah.

There were also surprise guest appearances, notably internationally acclaimed Syrian actor Ghassan Massoud, whose had graced the silver screen in high profile films such The Kingdom of Heaven.

Rasheed Assaf, a well regarded Syrian actor in his own right was also there to support his peers in the Arab film industry. Rana Abyad, a fellow actress, also gave onlookers a treat when she arrived onto the red carpet, as not many were aware that she was in the Captial for the film festival.


Rana Abyad, Syrian actress: 
“I’m here as a guest of the festival. So far I really like it, especially during the opening night when all the international and regional stars as well as all those whose films are being shown in MEIFF walked down the red carpet. It just goes to show, if none of us like each other, we wouldn’t have come, from the East to the West."

Khaled Taja, Syrian Actor: 
“The film festival is going well so far. Everything is organised, with experts standing behind the event making sure that everything is going smoothly...The character was imprisoned for his opinions...something which might just happen to me in real life because I oppose the concept of dictatorship.”