Directors from key Middle Eastern film festivals have agreed to form an Arab Film Festival Guild, aimed at increasing cooperation and sharing expertise in the region, and promoting the Arab film industry internationally.

The final plans for the Guild were discussed at a meeting held during Morocco's Rabat Film Festival attended by Dubai International Film Festival chairman Abdul Hamid Juma; Yusuf Dak Elbab, of the Damascus International Film Festival; Cairo director Soheir Abdel Kader; and Rabat chairman and vice chairman Abdelhak Mantrache and Hamadi Jerome.

The Marrakesh and Carthage film festivals are also involved in the discussion and are likely to join in the next few months.

'We, as Arabs, have a hard time following production throughout the region,' Abdul Hamid Juma, the driving force behind the cooperative, told 'And it's harder for international festivals. If we work together, we can provide a real platform for Arab filmmakers.'

International festivals with an interest in Arab film will also be invited to join meetings of the Guild in Cairo in November and Dubai in December.

A declaration of the founding assembly will be announced during the Dubai International film Festival (DIFF).

The rivalry between the main Arab festivals, which all run in November and December, intensified when ambitious, big-budget DIFF was launched in 2004.

In 2006, the festival focused more on its role as a regional player and launched the Muhr Awards for Arab Cinema.

Juma confirmed that the Rabat meeting had included discussion regarding competition for premieres, and even sharing guest lists.

'We are collaborating with Cairo on this - why not invite guests from Cairo to extend their Middle East holiday by coming straight on to Dubai'' Marrakesh is also willing to join in the potential tour - something that could help entice long-haul American guests, in particular, to the region.'