Richard Gere, Nate Parker, Nicholas Jarecki Help Open Abu Dhabi Film Festival

Richard Gere in "Arbitrage"

Executive producer Mohammed Al Turki who grew up in the Middle East said "I never thought I could embark on a film career," but his dream has come true.

ABU DHABI -- Richard Gere, Nate Parker, director Nicholas Jarecki and executive producer Mohammed Al Turki were among those who turned out Thursday evening for the screening of their movie Arbitrage on the opening night of the Abu Dhabi Film Festival.

Giving a brief interview for the crowd on a stop along the extra-long and winding red carpet at the Emirates Palace hotel, Gere said this was his first-ever time in Abu Dhabi. "I was in Dubai a few years ago at the film festival," he explained. "It's my second time in the emirates."

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He then teased a possible return for a future project. "I was talking to some Arab friends of mine today about possibly shooting something here," the star said without providing any details. Abu Dhabi this fall launched a film incentives program to attract productions, but hasn't announced a first project yet.

"We are very proud of the movie," Gere said about Arbitrage, adding that the team expects it to well in foreign markets after the recent U.S. launch.

Film trailers before the screening were dedicated to Entertainment One's The Suicide Shop and Fox's Ruby Sparks.

Speakers before the film included Noura al Kaabi, CEO of Abu Dhabi media zone authority twofour54, and film festival director Ali Al Jabri who both spoke in Arabic.

Al Turki said that he had always dreamt of making it in Hollywood, but then also managing to "bring it back home." He added: "This dream has now come true."

He continued: "I never thought I could embark on a film career. I am from within the Gulf region where we are a conservative society" where cinema can be considered unusual and outside of regular norms.

"However, we are living proof of evolution. We are the new generation," he added. "We are globalized through social media, and we will continue to elevate."

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He then introduced Parker, Jarecki and Gere, who he said he was "very proud to share the stage with."

Gere was greeted with cheers as he appeared on stage.

Jarecki spoke a few words of Arabic before telling the crowd: "We love it here." He also said he was "proud to say" that the film has been doing very well.

Gere started off by saying "salaam," the Arabic word for peace. "I'm very happy to be here, and I am especially happy to greet all my brothers and sisters here," he added before a translator shared the comments with those in the crowd who don't speak English. Gere also suggested the audience relax before what he called a "very tense" movie.

And given the interactions his character has with women, he added: "Women should relax..don't get too upset."

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The outdoor after-party at the Emirates Palace included music from the Abu Dhabi Big Band, a light show and such culinary offers as mac and cheese, roasted prime beef sirloin, sashimi grade tuna and crepes with such toppings as toffee banana, chocolate sauce and whipped cream.

The festival runs through Oct. 20.


Twitter: @georgszalai