Sanjay Shankar. Image Credit: Louai Mroueh

Louai Mroueh

“Growing up with film as a central part of our family life. Attending the festival for over 10 years, and working here has rekindled my love for movies and the cinema. Enabling me to experience the industry, the experience has been an unforgettable one. Film most definitely found me this year.”

Diyab Basheer

“As an aspiring filmmaker, the YJA experience was a side seat to the industry, its love, glamour, and charisma. A window to my future. A preview into my dream. Exploring the world of film at the festival not only improved my journalistic instincts, but also my understanding of cinema as a filmmaker. This chapter is undoubtedly a founding stone to my tomorrow.”

Sanjay Shankar

“As a film enthusiast, witnessing Nacer Khemir’s Whispering Sands, my first foray into Arab cinema, was an enthralling experience. It only got better with the opportunity to talk to Nacer and actress Noura Saladin about the film.”

Noha El Chaarani

“I believe seeing university theory come to life and being a true journalist was the greatest experience in this festival. There is no doubt that the YJA has reaffirmed my passion for this field form simply working on the red carpet, interviewing celebrities or viewing some of the cinematic stage’s finest works. An immortal memory.”

Ankitha Devi

“To be honest, every day at Diff was a new and exciting experience. However, if I had to pick one, I think I would have to pick the press junket interview with Rachid Hami and Samir Guesmi of Orchestra Class. It was a first for me, and a nerve-racking but exhilarating experience.”

Adam Karmani

“My highlight of the week has to be the screening of Fireworks. The part-drama part-romcom’s story might not have been the greatest, but the animation was spot on. Definitely venturing into guilty pleasure territory, so I used the festival atmosphere to my advantage.”

Khayaz Navas

“As a fan of people, my highlight was definitely meeting and hanging out with the profoundly interesting people at Diff. Sharing perspectives from different worlds, the melting pot that is Diff, has taught me invaluable lessons on the nature of people and life.”


Mai El Shoush, YJA mentor

“This is the second year I have enjoyed being mentor for the YJA Award, and working alongside such talented students, the amazing Diff team and Gulf News.

The award is a fantastic opportunity for these budding creatives, who undoubtedly have a promising future. It has been a pleasure getting to know each one of the participants, and seeing them flourish in their own unique ways.”


— The Young Journalist Award (YJA) at Diff is a training programme for high school and university students who are aspiring writers and reporters. Seven students are competing at the festival this year. One winner will secure a monthlong internship with Gulf News.