Festival director Masoud Amralla Al Ali reveals his hopes for this year's festival.

What is the blueprint for a good festival'

The most important thing is to have an identity and a vision to shape the path the festival takes. As we all know, there are thousands of film festivals around the world. The way to keep yourself relevant is to offer something that other festivals do not offer, and in our case we do that by focusing on Arab film-making. Quality Arab film-making has existed in the past, but for a long time the international cinema scene was unaware of it. Everything that Diff does now should be in service of one goal: to help Arab film-makers achieve their potential. We do that by helping them reach an audience, the industry and an international community of cinema-goers.

How is this year's festival a turning point'

In terms of what we are trying to achieve, Diff's fifth edition sees the completion of a chain. Since the beginning, we had the competition and programmes for films that have already been shot. Last year we introduced the Dubai Film Connection, which is for scripts and development of films that are not yet in production. Now, with the introduction of our film market, we can help film-makers distribute their work. All too often, films do the rounds at festivals and then end up languishing on the shelf. Our aim is to provide film-makers with access to all channels: theatrical, TV, DVD. We are bringing people together with a purpose.

Which films have you enjoyed recently'

In the past five years or so, there has been a revolution in the number of films made using digital technology, which has been spectacular. After the digital revolution, many Arab film-makers were able to find their voice using this format, and they're producing great films. In terms of 'big name' Diff discoveries, Captain Abu Raed and Paradise Now have gone from success to success.

What are you most looking forward to ahead of this year's festival'

Naturally, Arab film remains, and always will be, at the core of the festival, but this year we extended the Muhr competition to film-makers from Africa and Asia, too. This is partly because of Dubai's geographical location, but also because African and Asian film-makers are subject to some of the same challenges as Arab ones. Hopefully these awards will encourage them, and lead to many fascinating new discoveries, which is what we are all about. I love Dubai to be the festival for newcomers, a destination for unknowns.

Is Diff in competition with neighbour Abu Dhabi's film festival'

Mere duplication is pointless, but if each has its own strategy, then why not have as many film festivals as possible' As a cinema-goer, I want more; another film festival is better than another building. There should be no rivalry where these things are concerned: culture is one force.