AlbertBrooks became the first US film-maker to world premiere his film at the DubaiInternational Film Festival yesterday - with the potentially controversialtitle Looking For Comedy In The MuslimWorld, a sub-$25m cross-cultural comedy bankrolled by Steve Bing's Shangri-La Entertainment.

Brooks, whotravelled to the Gulf state with Bing to show his film to a public audience of450, unexpectedly sat through the entire screening with Dubai's Minister forInformation and Culture, Sheikh Abdullah Bin Zayed AlNahyan and his entourage - who, perhaps fortunately,got the jokes andlaughed throughout. The film was well-received, with themost enthusiastic post-screening response to date at the second Dubai festival.

Brooks'title has had a bumpy ride prior to its world premiere, after former US distributor Sony Pictures requestedtheword"Muslim" be taken out of thetitle and herefused. The movie is now being handled by Warner Independent Pictures, whichwill release Looking ForComedy In The Muslim World on January 20 on 170 screens in 14 citiesacross the US and roll out from there.

StarringBrooks as a Jewish comedian- Albert Brooks - who is dispatched to Indiaand Pakistan by the US Government on a cultural mission to find out what makesMuslims laugh, Looking For Comedy waspart of Dubai's thrust to "build a cultural bridge" to the MiddleEast, a mission which saw the festival open with HanyAbu-Assad's suicide bomber drama Paradise Now.

"I'vebeen through a lot to get to this point," said Brooks after the screening."There was five months of hell over the title, thenwhen we decided to come here a lot of people asked me whether if was a goodidea. Steve Bing made the decision to come - he told me I was coming here. Myinitial reaction was 'what' I'm not going!' I'm the man who never leaves hishouse.

"Butboy, I'm happy I did it now, to have this experience. You never know anythingabout this life. Ididn't know I was going to watch it withtheSheikh - it was a wonderful, wonderful night."