The vibrant and glamorous annual Arabian Nights party acts as the perfect centrepiece to the Abu Dhabi Film Festival, blending festival veterans who have been there from day one with bleary-eyed jet-lagged film folk who have just arrived from film festivals in Busan or London.
Set on the beach in front of the Emirates Palace Hotel the party really gets going when midnight strikes, with guests wandering over a strip of magic carpets, their way lit by lanterns and greeted by dancers… plus there is the opportunity to have your picture taken with an eagle.
The party aims to replicate – as only a five-star hotel can do – the desert experience, and is set up with food-stands a-plenty as well as singing, dancing, a Western-style DJ (very popular), shisha pipes – for those who partake – and even chill-out seats out on the sand with the possibility of a close encounter with a camel.
In fact this party has developed into a must-go-to events for festival regulars, with an elegant and laid-back vibe that is a perfect counterbalance to the excitement of the opening night bash and the champagne excesses of the Moet & Chandon event.
The partying goes on until the early hours…but not for this correspondent. An early morning flight back to chilly London provided the perfect excuse for a little light air-kissing, fond farewells and a echoey saunter along the marble corridors of the Emirates Palace in another bid to find a new way to my bedroom.