The VIP lounge is going green, too, with a collaboration between UAE -based environmental company Bee'ah and House of Glamo founder Mohammad Sultan Al Habtoor to create a limited edition re-usable bag and T-shirt. "We wanted to convey the importance of conserving the environment in a very simple way. The bags and tshirts are all made from 100 per cent recycled and organic items," Al Habtoor said. Image Credit: ABDEL-KRIM KALLOUCHE/GULFNEWS

They're among the most highly paid people in the world, and already enjoy world travel and designer clothing as part of their jobs. But for many movie stars, film festivals are as much about receiving designer gifts as they are about watching movies — and this year's Abu Dhabi Film Festival (Adff) is no different.

Whether Hollywood heavyweights or renowned Arab actors, directors or producers, plenty of stars have already begun enjoying and sampling all that the festival's VIP gifting suite, the A-Level Lounge, has to offer.

"We wanted to create the first A-Level Lounge for this year's Adff because every festival has a dedicated celebrity lounge. When we approached the organisers, they were very excited and immediately came on board. The next step was finding the right balance and range of products and services to offer the celebrities," said Katherine Raso, Director at Aziza Communications, and co-founder of the A-Level Lounge. "With diverse experiences and products on offer, our VIPs certainly won't be disappointed," she added.

Exclusive invitations

The lounge, which includes everything from red carpet jewels and glamorous vacations to the latest designer sunglasses, spa treatments and designer gowns, has already seen some popular pieces being snatched up by the celebs, including ICE watches, cigars and jewellery. Some lucky celebs have also received exclusive invitations to stay at the Qasr Al Sarab Desert Resort.

"We have created very uniquely tailored packages for a select number of celebrities at our Qasr Al Sarab Desert Resort that includes stays in our custom-designed villas, spa packages, desert safaris and much more," Arno Moretto, Manager, Anantara Desert Hotels and Resorts, explained.

Raso said that while the A-Level Lounge is by invitation only, the venue provides a positive experience for both participants and guests — while celebrities enjoy products and services that are being offered, participants get some promotion from the fact that they provided them.

"Part of hosting is gifting and what's great about our lounge is that while our guests are enjoying their stay in the lounge, local and international brands are given a boost in terms of awareness," Raso explained.

"We believe that the lounge is a thing to do for people who are visiting here and at the same time, introduce Middle Eastern culture to our international guests," she added.

"The lounge is a new aspect to the festival that was added after we came under new management last year. It's by invitation only, with 150-160 being provided to all the celebrities and jurors who are staying as guests at the Emirates Palace Hotel. If there are people who wish to go to the lounge without an invitation, exceptions are being made on a case by case basis," Huda Al Shamsi, Marketing and Sponsorship Director, Adff, said.


"We also made sure to link to brands that make sense, such as L'Oreal, who are a staple at the Cannes Film Festival and the Berlin Film Festival, to make sure that our guests are able to enjoy themselves, get pampered and leave with great memories of their experiences," Huda added.

With the festival only beginning, the A-Level Lounge is more than ready to shift into high gear as more international and regional heavyweights descend on Abu Dhabi.

"The lounge has exceeded all our expectations, with people coming back again and again and even booking manicures, pedicures and massages… it's been extremely busy since the festival began. We forgot how fast the days pass by. It's 24 hours of entertainment in here and we're looking forward to the rest of the week," Raso said.

Who got what?

Both Adrien Brody and Clive Owen snatched up custom-made cufflinks with their initials in Arabic from designer Nadine Kanso's Bil Arabi jewellery range. Owen also picked up pieces for his daughters from By Sophie, while Egyptian star Yousra (wore Mouawad jewellery on the opening night's red carpet.

Food: Brody revealed his sweet tooth by picking up a Red Velvet Sugar Daddy's cupcake.

Watches: ICE watches were snapped up by Arab celebs Mustafa Shaban (below) and Mohammad Al Mansour.

Bee'ah bags and T-shirts: Proving to be a surprising favourite, they are being snatched up by every celebrity to pass through the A-Level Lounge.