The organisers of Dubai International Film Festival (DIFF) have teamed up with amfAR, the American foundation for AIDS research.

This year's festival, Dec 9-16, will host a version of the Cinema Against AIDS event, the star-studded fundraiser that's become an annual fixture at Cannes.

DIFF chairman Abdulhamid Juma confirmed that Sharon Stone, amfAR's chairman of the campaign for AIDS research, will be hosting the event in the wealthy Gulf emirate, along with amfAR's chairman of the board Kenneth Cole.

DIFF has co-hosted other fundraising events during its previous three editions, including benefits for UNICEF and the World Food Programme, and a fundraiser for African charities hosted by Bob Geldof. 'We felt the time was right to do something big, and there's no better association than amfAR,' said festival managing director Shivani Pandya.

DIFF has previously played host to Orlando Bloom, Morgan Freeman and Shah Rukh Khan, besides the cream of the Egyptian film industry, but Sharon Stone is likely to be the biggest catch to date for the celebrity-obsessed city. In 2006, DIFF made efforts to brand itself a more serious festival, inaugurating the Muhr Awards for Arab cinema and establishing an industry office.

Cannes' Cinema Against AIDS event will be held tomorrow, presented by Bold Films, the M·A·C AIDS Fund and The Weinstein Company, and co-chaired by Dame Elizabeth Taylor.