x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

A blockbuster night of giving at DIFF’s charity gala

The great and the good rubbed shoulders at Dubai International Film Festival’s black-tie charity dinner on Wednesday night.

Aston Martin is the car of choice of 007 James Bond, and one was up for auction during the charity gala at the Armani Hotel. Razan Alzayani / The National
Aston Martin is the car of choice of 007 James Bond, and one was up for auction during the charity gala at the Armani Hotel. Razan Alzayani / The National

DUBAI // The great and the good rubbed shoulders at Dubai International Film Festival’s black-tie charity dinner on Wednesday night.

The gala, dubbed “One Night to Change Lives”, was held under the patronage of Princess Haya bint Al Hussein, wife of Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President and Ruler of Dubai, in association with Dubai Cares and the aid agency Oxfam.

A flurry of flashes heralded the arrival of actresses Rooney Mara and Naomie Harris, who are Oxfam ambassadors, at the Armani Hotel in the Burj Khalifa.

Other stars of the big screen, including Mark Ruffalo, Arjun Rampal and Rahul Bose, mingled inside the venue with UAE guests and movie-industry professionals.

Philanthropy and film memorabilia was the order of the night, with James Bond collectables, including a special-edition Aston Martin Vanquish, going under the hammer.

Proceeds from the auction will be used to help provide shelter, clothes and food for displaced families in Lebanon, Jordan and Syria.

The Earl and Countess of Carnarvon flew to Dubai for the event, having donated an overnight stay in their family seat, Highclere Castle in England, the filming location for hit television series Downton Abbey.

“We’re demonstrating our support for Oxfam because what’s happening in Syria is a disaster on an unimaginable scale.” said the Countess.

“For all of us back home, it’s hard to understand, as we sit in comfortable homes with central heating, that many millions of people have been displaced in Syria, and another two million have nowhere to live. It’s absolutely horrendous.”

The Countess said she felt bed-and-board at her imposing Jacobethan mansion would have particular appeal in this region.

“We’ve been very lucky that royalty have stayed there for hundreds of years – statesmen, politicians and so many British prime ministers, too,” she said. “TE Lawrence also came, so Lawrence of Arabia is in our visitors book.”

Gala guests tucked into a three-course meal of Loch Fyne salmon, rack of lamb and Valhrona chocolate for dessert.

After dinner, guests were invited to party into the small hours, sharing space on the dance floor with British musician Goldie and former Bond girl Maryam d’Abo.

rduane@thenational.ae