Stars Light up the Red Carpet for 5th Dublin Arabic Film Festival Presented by Dubai Duty Free

Stars from the entertainment world joined Oscar-nominated film maker, Jim Sheridan on the red carpet last night (5th Oct) at the Irish Film Institute for the fifth edition of the Dublin Arabic Film Festival Presented by Dubai Duty Free. The festival, which runs from Friday October 5th to Sunday October 7th, features six of the best new movies from the Arab world.  One of the key themes of this year’s Dublin Arabic Film Festival is the championing of female filmmakers, a theme that carries through many of the films.

Among the stars who joined Jim Sheridan and DAFF festival Director, Zahara Moufid on the red carpet were Game of Thrones star, Liam Cunningham, Love/Hate writer Stuart Carolan, actress, Neili Conroy and director, Terry McMahon.

Sinead El Sibai, Senior Vice President of Marketing at Dubai Duty Free flew in from Dubai to represent the presenting sponsor of the festival, Dubai Duty Free. The airport retailer has supported the festival and has been the presenting sponsor since its inception in 2014 when legendary actor, Omar Sharif officially opened in the inaugural edition.  Also in attendance were several ambassadors and business people from the Arab world, and representatives of the Arab Irish Chamber who also sponsor the festival.

Guests arrived for a drink’s reception before being invited to a private screening of the opening movie of the festival, Looking for Oum Kulthum – Shirin Neshat and Shoja Azari’s drama about Oum Kulthum, the legendary Egyptian singer and diva. After the screening a VIP party was held for guests at the exclusive Stephen’s Green Hibernian Club where guests enjoyed some exquisite Arabic food and wines from Bacchus Vinos.

Speaking at the opening night Jim Sheridan, DAFF President, said; “We are delighted to see so many well-known faces coming out to support the Dublin Arabic Film Festival Presented by Dubai Duty Free.  Now in its fifth year the festival continues to grow and once again we will show a wonderful collection of movies at the Irish Film Institute and the Chester Beatty Library this weekend.”

Sinead El Sibai, Senior Vice President of Marketing at Dubai Duty Free, said; “We are proud to continue our support of this wonderful festival. Sponsorship has been a major part of our marketing strategy since our inception in 1983.  Key sponsorships of various sporting and cultural events around the world allow us to communicate and engage with international audiences through local events and through digital, print, outdoor and broadcast media. There is a strong Irish community in the UAE and there are an increasing number of Irish people visiting Dubai for both business and leisure and we want to continue to place our brand in front of them and to remind them that Dubai is a great place to visit and to do business.”

Ross Keane, director at the Irish Film Institute, said; “We always look forward to welcoming the Dublin Arabic Film Festival Presented by Dubai Duty Free to the Irish Film Institute. It is certainly a popular event for those who are looking for some brilliant, cultural movies that will not be seen on screens in other cinemas throughout Ireland. Once again, the six movies featuring at DAFF are exceptional.”

Looking for Oum Kulthum, the festival’s opening film, tells the story of Mitra, an ambitious artist in her forties who embarks on her dream project of making a film about the legendary Egyptian singer and diva Oum Kulthum. The film explores the struggles, sacrifices and the price of Oum Kulthum’s success as a female artist in a male- dominated society. Affecting drama, Sheikh Jackson tells the story of Khaled, a respected junior cleric in Alexandria whose seemingly stable life becomes derailed by the news of Michael Jackson’s death. Succumbing to long-suppressed feelings of turmoil and anxiety, he begins neglecting his wife and child and experiences flashbacks to his teenage years, when he was nicknamed ‘Jackson’ on account of his love for the King of Pop.

Ziad Doueiri’s The Insult, which was shortlisted for this year’s Best Foreign Language Oscar, tells the story of how a minor altercation between a Lebanese Christian and a Palestinian refugee escalates into a public dispute that comes to encapsulate the lasting legacy of the Lebanese Civil War. Documentary House in the Fields centres on an isolated rural Amazigh village in the High Atlas Mountains in Morocco. A portrait of a community that has remained unchanged for hundreds of years despite the rapidly accelerating socio-political realities of the country, the film observes and faithfully records the lives of the villagers.

In Until the Birds Return, past and present collide in the lives of three people, in this gripping film that exposes the soul of contemporary Algerian society. Finally, the Chester Beatty Library will show Caramel, a comedy set in a beauty salon in Beirut which provides a haven for five women, each with busy and complex personal lives. With the support of their friends in their familiar salon, the women search for the answers to questions of life, love and happiness in Nadine Labaki’s charming 2007 film.

Tickets for screenings at the IFI can be booked online at or by calling the IFI Box Office on (01) 6793477. Admission to the screening of Caramel at The Chester Beatty Library is free and booking is not required.  For more information see

Friday, October 5th

20.00    Looking for Oum Kulthum (IFI)


Saturday, October 6th

14.00    Sheikh Jackson (IFI)

14.00    Caramel (Chester Beatty Library)

16.10    The Insult (IFI)


Sunday, October 7th

14.00    House in the Fields (IFI)

16.00    Until the Birds Return (IFI)



For further press information or photography, please contact Aileen O’Brien at O’Brien PR on  (045) 407017, Aileen mobile (086) 8403624,  Photography at the opening night is by Conor Healy, Picture It Photography Conor Healy Conor Healy mobile 087 3085172. Oscar-nominated filmmaker Jim Sheridan and Festival Director, Zahara Moufid are also available for interview as well as Sinead El Sibai of Dubai Duty Free, Niall Holohan of the Arab Irish Chamber and Ross Keane, Director of the IFI. For any IFI media requests, please contact Shauna Lyons on (01) 612 9448 or email

Notes to Editors


About DAFF, Presented by Dubai Duty Free


The fifth event of its kind in Ireland, DAFF, Presented by Dubai Duty Free will take place at The Irish Film Institute and the Chester Beatty Library 5-7th October, Dublin.  With festival director Zahara Moufid at the helm and Oscar nominated movie producer Jim Sheridan serving as Festival President DAFF, Presented by Dubai Duty Free, celebrates some of the best feature films the Arab world has to offer.  The very first festival featured a visit to Ireland by legendary movie icon, Omar Sharif in 2014. For more details see

About The IFI


The Irish Film Institute is Ireland’s national cultural institution for film. It provides audiences throughout Ireland with access to the finest independent, Irish and international cinema; it preserves and promotes Ireland’s moving image heritage through the IFI Irish Film Archive and provides opportunities for audiences of all ages and backgrounds to learn and critically engage with film. IFI is principally funded by the Arts Council.

About Dubai Duty Free

Dubai Duty Free was founded in 1983 and recorded first-year sales of US$20. It has grown into one of the biggest travel retail operators in the world with sales turnover of US$1.93 billion in 2017. Now employing over 6,000 people, the operation has consistently raised the benchmark for airport retailing and it continues to grow. Dubai Duty Free currently operates some 38,000sqm of retail space at Dubai International Airport and 2,500 sqm at Al Maktoum International that will grow in line with the massive development plans of Dubai South, which ultimately cover some 80,000sqm of retail.

In addition to its retail operation, Dubai Duty Free operates a Leisure Division which includes The Irish Village, both in Garhoud and Riverland Dubai, The Century Village, Dubai Duty Free Tennis Stadium and The Jumeirah Creekside Hotel.

While the successful running of the shop floor is a major focus for Dubai Duty Free, the operation is highly committed to promoting Dubai through a series of high level sporting events including the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships, Dubai Duty Free Irish Open and Dubai Duty Free Irish Derby.

To date, Dubai Duty Free has received 600 awards including the Frontier Awards for ‘Airport Retailer of the Year in Single Location’, which was won by the operation for the eighth time.

Dubai Duty Free’s Executive Vice Chairman and CEO, Colm McLoughlin was also presented with several awards including the “Irish Presidential Distinguished Service Award” and the CEO Middle East Awards for “Retail CEO of the Year”. In addition, he was conferred with an Honorary Doctorate of the University (DUniv) by the Middlesex University Dubai, for his contribution to UAE society and outstanding service to the aviation sector as a key player in the region’s retail sector for 34 years.

Sponsors of DAFF:
Dubai Duty Free (Presenting Sponsor)

Arab Irish Chamber

Dublin City Council

Tourism Ireland

Sunway Holidays

Bacchus Vinos