Middle Eastern micro-state Dubai is planning a major splashin the film world with the launch of the Dubai International Film Festival inDecember (Dec 6-11).

Highly developed and politically liberal, Dubai ispositioning the festival as a cultural bridge between the Middle East and theoutside world. It comes complete with the blessing of the royal family. SheikMohammed Bin Rashid Al Makhtoum is festival patron and Sheik Ahmed bin Saeed AlMakhtoum its chairman.

The festival's director and chief executive is NeilStephenson, who is in the final stages of assembling a selection andprogramming team.

Stephenson says that the festival in its initial frame willcarry a selection of 80 new and recent titles arranged across seven sections.

Central will be the Arabian Nights section screening aboutexamples of contemporary Arabian cinema. Operation Cultural Bridge is aninternational selection intended to stimulate dialogue. Remaining sections willshowcase Bollywood; other films from the Indian sub-continent; documentaries;and films using a high degree of computer technology.

"Dubai is an international place. We aim to create afestival that reflects our own community," said Stephenson. Events will behoused in a new high-tech complex being built in the Dubai Media City.