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Group photo of winners across categories Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: The ‘Al Marmoom: Film in the Desert’ festival in Dubai concluded on Sunday with an awards ceremony for the Al Marmoom Short Film Competition.

Organised by Dubai Culture and Arts Authority (Dubai Culture) at Al Marmoom Desert Conservation Reserve, the three-day event showcased a wide selection of ‘Stories at One with Nature.’ This year’s edition of the festival, which featured the screening of 27 films, celebrated emerging filmmakers and the creations of Emirati and Arab talent.

Organised as part of Dubai Culture’s efforts to promote local cinema and nurture homegrown and regional creative talent, the event also supported the #DubaiDestinations campaign’s goal of highlighting the exceptional experiences, events and activities offered by the emirate. The festival is also aligned with the vision of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, to cement Dubai’s position as a global centre for culture, an incubator for creativity, and a thriving hub for talent.

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This was the second time the festival has been held in Dubai Image Credit: Supplied


The competition gave MENA directors an opportunity to showcase their works across three categories: live-action, animation and documentaries. The movie ‘May 27th of this Year’ came in first place, while ‘Osha the Falconer’ and ‘The Wanderer’ came in second and third place, respectively.

The films ‘Samel,’ ‘Galb’Echaouf,’ ‘Manufacturing Defect,’ ‘Naima,’ and ‘A Warm Home’ were offered the title of ‘Special Mentions’ by the competition’s jury members.

The awarding ceremony was held in the presence of Dr Saeed Mubarak bin Kharbash, CEO of the Arts and Literature sector at Dubai Culture; Sheikh Maktoum Marwan Al Maktoum, project manager of ‘Al Marmoom: Film in the Desert Festival’ and senior officer in the Projects and Events Department at Dubai Culture; Shamma Yahya Alzaffin, project manager of ‘Al Marmoom: Film in the Desert Festival’ and senior officer of the Arts and Literature Sector’s CEO’s office at Dubai Culture.

Also present were the jury members: director and poet Nujoom Al Ghanem, Toni El Massih, managing director of VOX Cinemas, director and producer Omar Butti, director and producer Nahla Al Fahad, and creative director of Expo 2020 Dubai Amna Belhoul; in addition to a large number of filmmakers and creative talent.

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122 films in fray

Sheikh Maktoum bin Marwan Al Maktoum said that the jury watched and evaluated more than 122 films, including fiction, documentaries, animation and experimental films.

“The films nominated for the festival’s competition succeeded in capturing the attention of the jury and the audience alike, due to their quality and diversity in their themes and technical and aesthetic prowess. This is evidence of the filmmakers’ insistence on challenging production conditions and presenting the best films,” he said, adding that the competition enhanced the value of the festival as an incubator for local, Gulf and Arab cinematic talents.

Shamma Yahya Alzaffin said: “The skill of the filmmakers, their varying directorial interests and visions, and the issues raised in their works played an important role in uplifting the competition and showcasing the diversity in their dramatic, visual and experimental approaches. The festival also sought through the specialised talks and workshops to elevate filmmakers’ knowledge, in line with the Authority’s commitments to create a sustainable educational environment and ecosystem capable of advancing the local film industry to enhance Dubai’s position as a hub for filmmakers.”

27 films screened

Over three days, the festival screened 27 films, including ‘Honey Rain and Dust,’ ‘Zarafa,’ ‘Revolting Rhymes,’ ‘Looking for Umm Kulthum,’ ‘Costa Brava, Lebanon,’ ‘The Elephant and the Bicycle,’ ‘Emara,’ and ‘One Small Step’ among others. It also hosted 23 specialised talks and workshops presented by a group of industry experts and exhibitions and artworks that recounted the history of cinema and highlighted the importance of the local cultural and artistic heritage.

Architect, researcher and product designer Eman Shafiq was the architect behind the competition’s trophy, whose idea was inspired by the nature and history of Al Marmoom Desert Conservation Reserve. Shafiq expressed her pride in designing the trophy, saying: “The trophy represents an unconventional sculpture that I created using Biosand, a naturally-reinforced and waterproof material made from dune/desert sand, and the design takes into account the nature of the Al Marmoom area and its heritage and history.”


Dubai Culture celebrated the efforts made by the volunteers, who worked passionately throughout the festival and contributed to the success of its various activities. The volunteers reflected the values of commitment to social responsibility and participation that have always characterised the local community by organising the public’s entry and exit, providing them with guidance, and addressing their enquiries.