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SICFF 2018 Kicks Off On October 14th

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Organisers of the Sharjah International Children’s Film Festival (SICFF 2018) have announced the agenda of the sixth edition of the festival dedicated to bringing young people and movies together, which unveils on October 14. Themed “Think Cinema”, the six-day cinematic extravaganza, which continues until October 19 will play out at the Al Jawaher Reception and Convention Centre (JRCC), and will bring 138 films by local, regional and international directors to the festival audience. This will include its longest-ever list of premiers with 54 films, consisting 12 international, 34 Middle Eastern, 7 UAE and 1 Gulf premiers.

The details of SICFF 2018 were revealed at a press conference in Sharjah today (Monday), held at Cinema City in Zero 6 Mall and hosted by festival organiser, FUNN – Sharjah Media Arts for Youth and Children – an organisation established under the vision and patronage of Her Highness Sheikha Jawaher bint Mohammed Al Qasimi, Wife of His Highness, the Ruler of Sharjah and Chairperson of the Supreme Council for Family Affairs, dedicated to engaging the UAE’s young generations in media arts.

The event will also feature an extensive programme over 40 specialised workshops, interactive sessions, and appearances by celebrated industry professionals, including filmmakers, directors, cinematographers and artists – all designed to ignite the imagination of young film enthusiasts, act as a platform where they can have new creative experiences, and increase their know-how of films and the media arts in general.

During the press conference, FUNN reiterated its commitment to encouraging young filmmaking talent in the UAE, enhancing film and media arts literacy, advancing the artistic taste of youngsters and inspiring them to know more about cinematographic techniques and skills. FUNN also asserted that it will keep children and young people in the region up-to-date with the most important and latest movies targeting them, in order to enable them to participate in shaping the future of this vital industry in the Arab world.

Unveiling the details of SICFF 2018, Sheikha Jawaher bint Abdullah Al Qasimi, Director of FUNN and SICFF, said: “The festival will bring together an impressive galaxy of promising talents from around the world who have chosen SICFF as a platform to showcase their work and introduce their countries’ cultures to a global audience.

“With our longest-ever premiers list comprising 54 films, SICFF’s selections this year will lay special focus on the plight of refugees. We take immense pride in offering Sharjah’s screen to these films – an emirate that is recognised globally for its leading efforts to develop culture and creativity in people. Our festival could not have seen the light of day if it weren’t for the patronage and unfailing encouragement offered by His Highness Dr. Sheikh Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah, and his wife, Sheikha Jawaher Al Qasimi.”

She added: “We believe that art is key to enriching the personalities and perceptions of young people, and that the ideas presented in films are strong catalysts that fire up children’s imaginations and develop their ability to discover beauty.” The SICFF director revealed that the festival is organizing panel discussions for the first time. They will be delivered by internationally-acclaimed industry experts and professionals. Among them is Walt Disney Animation Studios’ animator, Brian Ferguson, who will speak at a session titled ‘Disney World between the Past and the Present’.

Another session, ‘Filmmaking with Refugees’ will bring together animation artist Simon Medard from Studio Camera, etc., and Lebanese filmmaker, Diaa Mulaeb, who will highlight the role of films in documenting the plight of refugees. The session, ‘Cinema now and then’ will host Emirati author and scenarist, Hamad Al Shehabi, and Bahraini filmmaker, Mohammed Ibrahim, a board member at the Bahrain Cinema Club and Head of the Special Film Screenings Committee. Journalist and movie critic, Mansura Abdul Amir has also confirmed participation.

Emirati actor, producer and director, Abdullah Al Humairi will shed the spotlight on the important topic of the impact of social media on the film industry, the challenges in filmmaking via social media platforms. Al Humairi was at the press conference, where he said: “As we approach the sixth edition of SICFF, which furthers the cultural vision of His Highness the Ruler of Sharjah, and his wife, Sheikha Jawaher Al Qasimi, we look forward to phase in Sharjah’s and the UAE’s efforts to promote the power of visual arts, particularly film, and offer it to the young generations as a way of enriching their lives.”

He added: “Since its inception in 2013, SICFF has opened a window for Emirati and Arab children to look through it into various cultures. The festival, the first-of-its kind event dedicated for Arab children, aims to nurture a new generation of creative artists who can enrich the Arab cultural landscape with creative work.”

Mariam Al Serkal, Chairperson of the Majid Kids TV, said: “Majid Kids TV, under the umbrella of Abu Dhabi Media (ADM), is dedicated to providing purposeful content suitable for young audiences. It takes the elements of innovation, diversity and entertainment into consideration to reach out to all segments of community.”

“We have partnered with SICFF as the festival’s objectives are in perfect alignment with ours. We seek to ensure that children and young adults are offered the training they need to contribute to the world, by enabling them to face the past-paced cultural and intellectual changes” she added.

Majid Kids TV is bringing three interactive initiatives for young audiences at SICFF, which will engage them with backstage TV personnel, introduce them to the techniques of cartoon and animation, and participate in auditions at the Majid Studio to test their vocal capabilities and learn about the techniques of voice-over performance. Finally, The Lost Diamond Mystery activity will help improve their problem solving and critical thinking skills.

SICFF 2018 is organising over 40 workshops to open up the wonderful world of movie-making to creative young minds. The ‘Stop Motion for Special Needs’ workshop will be delivered by Sahar Abdullah, an expert in the field. Visual effects artist and crew member of the Walt Disney film, “A Wrinkle in Time”, Sebastian Reichhold, will present a 3D films workshop. He will also be speaking at a session to reveal the specialised techniques that went into making the film.

The ‘Introduction to Photoshop’ workshop will be hosted by Mahmoud Al Hassan, member of the Emirates Falcons Photography Society, and Ryan Palis will bring cool photography tricks to the young audience. Filmmaker Ghassan Abdullah will be teaching cinema tricks, and Farouk Hassan, a specialist in cinematic visual effects, will conduct a workshop on special makeup effects.

The festival will screen a selection of short films based on the lives and struggles of refugees in a number of countries such as Syria, Lebanon, Egypt, Jordan, Sudan and Ethiopia. Some of these films have been directed by filmmakers with support from UNICEF and UNHCR, while some others have been directed by refugee children themselves.

The US has the maximum number of entries competing for the SICFF Awards, followed by France and Russia. The festival features seven award categories, including Best Short Arab Film, Best Student-made Film, Best International Short Film, Best Animation Film, Best Documentary Film, Best Feature Film, and Best Child-made Film.

Submitted films will be evaluated by an independent jury featuring Arab and international film experts, critics and media personalities, renowned artists, directors and producers. Some of the names include Saudi documentary films producer Hana Makki, Bahraini actress Haifa Hussein, Palestinian filmmaker and producer Hani Abu Assad, film animator Brian Ferguson, movie critic Mansura Abdul Amir, and animator Simon Medard.

The festival has received the generous patronage of Crescent Enterprises and Gulftainer (Gold Partner), Tilal Properties (Silver Partner), Government of Sharjah and Sharjah Commerce and Tourism Development Authority (Bronze partners), OSN, FUJIFILM, INSTAX, Sharjah Airport and Sharjah Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Support sponsors), Emirates, BMW AGMC (Official Carrier) and Majid Kids TV (Official Children TV Partner).

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India Palace Announces Royal Biryani Festival

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Among the festivals to look forward to this summer is Biryani Khaas at India Palace – an authentic heritage biryani festival celebrating the very best of India. India Palace, an award-winning Indian fine dining restaurant is hosting its Biryani Khaas festival for the 4th time in UAE.

Taking place at all twelve India Palace outlets in the UAE in Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Sharjah, Al Ain from the last week of June 2021, the specially curated seasonal menu is designed to highlight the flavors and variety of biryanis found across the different regions in India.

The selection includes six authentic biryanis with vegetarian and non-vegetarian options. Guests can avail of this special menu till the end of August. Patrons can savor a distinctive array of authentic biryanis, each reflecting the flavors, spices, and herbs synonymous with the region they originated from.

The menu includes:

  • Noor Mahal Biryani, priced at AED 42, named after the Noor Mahal Palace, is a true royal dish, with tender juicy chicken balls tossed in sauce and arranged like gems in a jewel.
  • Raan Biryani, priced at AED 150, A meat lover’s delight, this gorgeous dish is prepared with a whole leg of lamb marinated overnight in spices, slow-cooked and chargrilled to perfection.
  • Shahi Jheenja Biryani, priced at AED 79, A Royal dish fit for a King, combining ingredients typical in the Mughlai style of cooking- prepared with king prawns simmered in aromatic spices and tomatoes, layered with long grain rice.
  • Lucknow Murg Biryani,priced at AED 46, A famous Lucknowi delicacy, made in the typical Shahi Mughal style with chicken marinated and simmered in a gently spiced rich creamy gravy, dummed to perfection.
  • Subzi Qabuli Pulao, priced at AED 36, This vegetarian version of Qabuli Pulao is an ethereal mix of rice and sweet warm spices, slow-cooked with chana dal and flavored with cinnamon and green cardamom
  • Coorgi Murgh Biryani,priced at AED 46, Reminiscent of the unique spice rich and scenic Coorg, the dish is flavored with black peppercorns, curry leaves, coconut, fennel seeds, and grinded whole spices.

Biryani Khaas brings together a fine curation of authentic recipes and culinary classics perfected by the master chefs of India Palace for the ultimate pleasure in dining. On the launch of the much-anticipated Biryani Khaas Festival, Rohith Muralya, Director Concept Cuisine SFC Group, said, “India Palace as a brand echoes the tradition and cultural heritage of India adorned by the royalty, richness, and diversity of flavors found across the country. The Biryani Khaas festival is an extension of our commitment of introducing the flavors of India, in all its glory to the residents of UAE.”

He further added, “The selection of the biryanis to be included in the special menu for the Biryani Khaas festival took months of research in finalizing the 4 that we have today. Each dish speaks of the region it represents, the diversity in the spices used and the type of rice and protein used.” The Biryani Khaas festival with its special menu will be held across all India Palace outlets in the UAE until August 2021. Everyone is invited to relish the true taste of Indian heritage through the most scrumptious spread that awaits.

What: Biryani Festival
Name: Biryani Khaas
Where: All 12 India Palace outlets across UAE
When: June – August 2021
Time: 11.30 AM – 10.30 PM

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Rove Hotels and Playtonia Launch Region’s First-Ever Gamer Rooms Powered by Razer

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Gaming is about to reach the boss level at Rove Hotels with the unveiling of Rove’s Gamer Caves – the MENA region’s first-ever hotel rooms designed exclusively for gaming. Rove’s Gamer Caves, powered by Razer, the world’s leading lifestyle brand for gamers, are being launched in partnership with Playtonia, a Dubai-based technology company that focuses on promoting and organising eSports leagues, with the support of the Dubai Sports Council.

The Gamer Caves, located at Rove Downtown and Rove At The Park, will be available to book online via www.rovehotels.com, from June 15th, so gamers can look forward to the ultimate summer in front of the screen. The first-of-its-kind gaming rooms will be fully decked out with top-of-the-line set-up, courtesy of Razer, which will feature their Huntsman V2 Analog gaming keyboard with Razer analog optical switches, Viper 8KHzesports gaming mouse, Kiyo Pro USB camera with high-performance adaptive light sensor, BlackShark V2 wired esports headset with USB sound card, Seiren Mini streaming microphone, Iskur gaming chair with built-in lumbar support and more – all the essentials needed to level up for the ultimate gaming experience for everyone involved, from esports pros to noobs, and anyone in between.

In addition, the Gamer Caves will host a unique in-room dining menu curated to enhance the experience with an assortment of game-themed dishes, including the Cloud Strife chicken slider, Lara Croft’s calamari, Kitana flatbread, and many more. Bianca Litonjua, Head Gamerof Rove said, “As a hotel brand that embraces popular culture, celebrates sub-cultures and always looks to create experiences for people to live their passions, Rove Hotels is extremely proud to design and launch the region’s first-ever hotel gaming rooms with the outstanding support of Dubai Sports Council, Playtonia and Razer. We are confident that Rove’s Gamer Caves will provide a welcome boost for the growing eSports community in MENA, and we can’t wait to welcome gamers from home and abroad to enjoy this first-of-its-kind gaming experience in the heart of Dubai.”

Nabil Hasan, General Manager of Playtonia UAE, added, “We are delighted to partner with Rove Hotels, with the support of Dubai Sports Council and Razer, for the launch of the region’s first-ever hotel gaming rooms. At Playtonia UAE, we strive to play a pivotal role in developing an eSports and gaming industry with the potential to eventually equal the professionalism, resources, and popularity of some of the biggest sports in the world. Consequently, we see the opening of Rove’s Gamer Caves as massively positive signs of the major progress being made in gaming and eSports – an industry that continues to go from strength to strength locally, regionally, and globally.”

Rove’s fully equipped Gamer Caves will offer a wide and diverse range of gaming titles provided by Playtonia, including Overwatch, DOTA 2, Diablo 3, GTA 5, Doom, Microsoft Flight Simulator, Red Dead Redemption 2, Divinity: Original Sin 2 – Definitive Edition, Final Fantasy XIV Online, and Faster Than Light. Ready Rover One? Book your Gamer Cave now via www.rovehotels.com.

The launch of the first exclusive gaming hotel rooms is deemed as a hugely encouraging step forward for the future of gaming and virtual events in the region, providing a fun, accessible, and affordable platform for amateur and professional gamers alike to pursue their passion and further strengthen the UAE’s thriving eSports community as a result.

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Indian Roadside Shack-Style Eatery Dhaba Lane Opens In Al Garhoud

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The Popular home grown Indian Restaurant in Karama, Dhaba Lane expands its operations in the UAE with the opening of its second outlet in Al Garhoud near Century Village. Offering a lively and chic dining atmosphere, the menu pays loving homage to the Indian Dhabas (Roadside shacks on Indian highways serving home-cooked traditional delicacies) that are an inseparable part of Indian food culture.

From Punjab to Delhi to Kolkata, the gastronomic journey available at Dhaba Lane takes its customers down the memory lane by offering guests the taste that they crave from distinct parts of India.

Some of the menu highlights include Galli Pani Puri Shots, Purani Dilli ki Papri Chaat, Dahi Ke Kebab, Murg Maska Marke, Taka Tak Paneer, Dal Makhan Marke, Zauk e Shahi, and Chenna Cheese Cake.

Dhaba Lane elevates the Indian classics with its quirky presentation inspired by the Dhaba culture in India blending the old into new in quite a pleasing manner. Dhaba Tandoori Murg is served on a Truck that says Humare Yahaan Khayeega toh dobara aayega (once you have eaten here, you would keep coming back), Dal Makhan Marke comes in red crimson brick themed well , Dahi Batata Puri – As it’s orgin, is served in a map of Punjab ( India), Pudina Seekh – Lamb Seekh Kabab is served in an Iron stand.

The food does not only promise to satiate your taste buds but also refreshes many fond memories. Spread across 1800 square feet with 70 seating capacity, the restaurant has a decorated interior that will exude the ‘Dhaba Vibes’. Brick meets wood panelling; pretty marble tiles meet a highway truck.

Eti Bhasin, a women entrepreneur and owner at Dhaba Lane Restaurants says, “After opening our first outlet in Karama in 2017, we realized that even after having the presence of many Indian restaurants around, customers love to visit Dhaba Lane to relish Dhaba style food in an upgraded urban set-up. This gave us the courage to expand and open our second outlet in Al Garhoud.

The reason behind choosing this location is primarily to cater to business travelers & residents alike in the Garhoud region that crave for a home away from home like experience offered by Dhaba Lane. Another advantage we got to see after opening in Garhoud is that a major proportion of local/ Arab residents are enjoying our signature recipes, which expands our Dhaba fan base to a newer set of audience.”

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