An international cast including Control and The Baader Meinhof Complex actress Alexandra Maria Lara, Bollywood rising star Sonu Sood, US-based, Egyptian-born comedian Ahmed Ahmed, The Tudors' Natalie Dormer and hip-hop starThe Narcicyst are lining up for City Of Life, a new feature film to shoot in Dubai.

UAE national Saoud Al Ka'abi will also star. London-based Debbie McWilliams, veteran of the Bond films, helped to assemble the cast. Ali F Mostafa, a UAE national who attended London Film School, wrote and will direct the urban drama. His AFM Films will also produce along with Tim Smythe of Dubai-based Filmworks.

The producers say the film is the 'first multi-lingual feature film to be written, produced and directed by an Emirati with UAE funding.' The project will shoot in Hindi, English and Arabic.

City Of Life will start shooting for five weeks in early February and will aim to premiere at the 2009 Dubai International Film Festival in December (it was announced here at DIFF 2008).

Mostafa's LFS graduation short, Under The Sun, won the Best Emirati Filmmaker award at DIFF 2007.

City Of Life is about the intersection of the lives of a wealthy Emirati man, a disillusioned, impoverished Indian taxi driver, and a Western woman. Mostafa said: 'We want to make a film to an international standard.

This is not an Arabic film, this is an international film.' He added that they didn't want to pre-sell the film but had already been in contact with international distributors who want to see the finished product. More than 40 locations in the UAE will be used.

The film's main investor is DIFC Lifestyle Group, also with backing from the Dubai Culture and Arts Authority. The budget is not being disclosed, but producer Smythe noted that they had enough financing to complete principal photography, and would seek post-production funds later.

Smythe also noted that the impetus behind the project was about more than just a single feature film. 'It's about creating systems and also creating awareness and support for local filmmakers,' he said. 'This is an important step in moving the Emirati industry forward.'