Jonathan Fryer

Dubai: City of Life

Posted by jonathanfryer on Thursday, 4th November, 2010

On the plane out to Dubai last night I was able to catch the film that made waves at the Dubai International Film Festival last December, Ali F Mostafa’s City of Life. The core subject is Dubai itself, the multi-cultural, multi-faceted, hectically developing Arabian Gulf hub, which I have been coming to regularly for more than two decades. The movie tracks the lives of three disparate residents: the directionless young son of a pious, wealthy Emirati; a star-struck Indian taxi-driver who dreams of fame himself; and a Romanian air stewardess ready to fall in love. All three pass through the highs and lows of life-changing experiences before the they are thrown together — without realising it — in a spectacular car-crash in the city’s Sheikh Zayed Road. The cast of the film is as international as the city itself, ranging from UK-based Susan George to Egyptian-American comic Ahmed Ahmed and Mumbai-born Jaaved Jaaferi, not forgetting two UAE nationals Saoud Ka’abi and Habib Ghuloom (whose touching, intense friendship is one of the most effective elements of the film). The plot is at times preposterous, but then so too is Dubai, and if occasionally the characters stretch credibility, City of Life is an interesting milestone in the development of local cinema. Ali F Mostafa part financed the film through product placement, though that does not grate. As the self-styled first movie entirely made in the UAE, it is well worth catching, whether in a cinema or on a plane!

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