AmfAR readies for bash in desert



AmfAR, the Foundation for AIDS Research, will hold its first-ever fundraising dinner in Dubai on Monday at Jumeirah Bab Al Shams Desert Resort. Featuring a live auction conducted by Sharon Stone, all funds raised will go directly toward amfAR's life-saving programs.

Asked about his expectations for the event, amfAR CEO Kevin Frost avoided any ambiguity: "I hope we raise a lot of money for AIDS research," he said, adding that Stone, chairman Kenneth Cole and amfAR ambassador Michelle Yeoh will be on hand. "I think it's going to be a lot of fun, but there will be some seriousness of purpose because people understand what it is that we're trying to do."

"Sharon Stone is coming for a very interesting cause, which coincides with the AIDS week in the United Arab Emirates," DIFF chairman Abdulhamid Juma said. "That is a very important event for us. Dubai really wants to shape itself not only as a business hub but also as a city that cares about humanity as a whole."

Frost believes the global film sector plays a pivotal role in raising AIDS awareness in areas of the world where is it sorely lacking, and events like DIFF offer an especially effective platform for the amfAR mission.

"We've had a long-standing relationship with the film community, which has been incredibly supportive of our work over the years," he said. "It's all part of this brand Cinema Against AIDS, which is the film community's effort to support our work, so the Dubai film festival was a natural extension of that brand."

Frost said the effort to spread the amfAR message in the Middle East is essential because information about the disease needs to be as far reaching as possible.

"AIDS touches every continent on the globe," he said. "The need to provide the information so that people can protect themselves is critical. What makes people vulnerable makes them vulnerable everywhere. So bringing our message (to Dubai) is very important to amfAR."