Syria captures the Black Pearl

(L-R) HE Al Mazrouei presents the Black Pearl Award to HE Agha, flanked by HE Rustum Al Zoubi.

Syria received the Middle East International Film Festival (MEIFF) Black Pearl Award in recognition of Damascus being named the 2008 Cultural Capital for the Arab World by the Arab League.
Syria’s Minister for Culture, HE Riyad Nassan Agha, accepted the award from HE Mohammad Khalaf Al Mazrouei, MEIFF’s vice president and director general of Abu Dhabi Authority for Culture and Heritage (ADACH) during a lavish ceremony at Emirates Palace Hotel, Abu Dhabi last month.
HE Agha said, “On behalf of Syria and Damascus, we thank you for this honour. Cinema is an international language, providing the ability for all cultures to communicate with and understand each other. We firmly believe that cinema is an important component of our nation’s culture, and Syria possesses one of the most extensive history and experience with the cinematic industry in the Arab world, after Egypt.”
“HE Agha’s participation and support of this year’s festival clearly crystallises the strong bonds between both the Syrian and Emirati cultural institutions, and we look forward to future partnership to encourage the growth and development of the arts in our nations,” said Al Mazrouei.
Nashwa Al Ruwaini, MEIFF’s director said the Syrian film presence at this year’s edition of MEIFF had noticeably increased. “We have three films screened at MEIFF this year, Hasiba which is competing in the Feature Films competition, and Farewell competing in the Short Films programme. We have also been proud to present the first ever feature-length Arab animated film, Thread of Life by Razam Higazi as part of the screenings under the Arab Women Directors programme.”
The awards were the culmination of 10 days of cinema, with 152 movies and 186 screenings shown in five Abu Dhabi venues.  A total of 76 feature films and 34 short films from over 35 countries competed for the MEIFF 2008 Black Pearl Awards.
At WTM Syria will showcase a number of new projects. Tourism investment in Syria rose considerable from 2005 to 2007, the value of new tourism investments exceeding $3.3 billion, while the value of tourism investments that are in service exceeded $3.9 billion.
New international standard hotels appeared over the last two years including the Damascus Four Seasons, Aleppo Sheraton, Seidnaya Sheraton, Palmyra Semiramis, the historic Bloudan Hotel and Palms Village. This year the Ministry of Tourism is presenting a group of new tourism development areas on the Syrian coast. Additionally, the ministry is launching, for the first time, a group of integrated tourism development areas offering great tourism potential.
Syria Ministry of Tourism will be at WTM stand ME6700.