Nat Geo’s Oscar-winning ‘Free Solo’ premieres in the UAE

Updated 12 March 2019
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Nat Geo’s Oscar-winning ‘Free Solo’ premieres in the UAE

A special UAE premiere screening event for National Geographic’s Oscar-winning “Free Solo” was held this week in Dubai to announce the documentary’s TV network debut in the MENA region.

Over 100 members of the UAE community were treated to a private screening to witness the world’s first-ever climb without ropes of the famed El Capitan’s 900-meter vertical rock face at Yosemite National Park in the US.

Presented by National Geographic, directed by award-winning directors Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi and Jimmy Chin, and co-produced by Abu Dhabi-based Image Nation, “Free Solo” is a stunning, intimate and unflinching portrait of climber Alex Honnold as he prepares to achieve his lifelong dream.

“We are proud to bring to the UAE community this ‘Free Solo’ big screen experience. Viewers immersed themselves fully in this extraordinary documentary, which captures the essence of National Geographic’s visual storytelling as well as its mission to celebrate the human spirit of adventure. We are here to encourage the explorer in everyone,” said Sanjay Raina, general manager and senior vice president, Fox Networks Group.

“Free Solo” received a standing ovation by guests who included Fox Networks Group executives, Image Nation executives, senior businessmen and officials as well as members of the UAE climbing community.

“From the incredible reviews to the Academy Award and BAFTA wins, we are so proud that Image Nation Abu Dhabi and the UAE can say it helped to support this incredible film,” said Ben Ross, chief content office of Image Nation Abu Dhabi. “It has been an honor to work with the National Geographic team and we are happy that local audiences have had a chance to see this extraordinary film on the big screen.”

“We’re super excited to partner with National Geographic to be able to screen this amazing documentary at Warehouse Four,” said Ian Carless, partner at Warehouse Four. “In today’s climate there’s a huge appetite for factual entertainment. Many documentary films now compete with their Hollywood counterparts and ‘Free Solo’ is an exemplary piece of filmmaking.” 

“Free Solo” continues to win accolades, the latest being the Best Documentary Feature at the 91st Academy Awards. This follows the BAFTA for Best Documentary, three Cinema Eye Honors and three Critics Choice documentary awards, Cinema Audio Society award, ACE Editors Guild Awards as well as PGA and DGA nominations.


Marriott hotel, apartments open in Riyadh’s DQ

Updated 21 March 2019
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Marriott hotel, apartments open in Riyadh’s DQ

Marriott International and Dur Hospitality this week celebrated the opening of the Riyadh Marriott Hotel Diplomatic Quarter and Marriott Executive Apartments Riyadh, Diplomatic Quarter. The complex is strategically located in the heart of one of the most sought-after areas in the city with easy access to key embassies and major corporate headquarters, and a 30-minute drive from King Khalid International Airport. 

“We are delighted to enhance our footprint in Saudi Arabia with the opening of two strategically important hotels that not only complement each other but also deliver very distinct brand experiences. Saudi Arabia continues to be one of our key markets and we are delighted to further strengthen our partnership with Dur Hospitality,” said Alex Kyriakidis, president and managing director, Middle East and Africa, Marriott International.

The hotel is inspired by Wadi Hanifa, a beautiful desert oasis running through Riyadh. The low-rise hotel resembles the smooth, dry canyon walls that make for a dramatic arrival experience. Once you step inside, the waterways guide the way into the building, ushering guests through the arrival court into the palm-dotted oasis in the hotel’s courtyard. Planted cacti, flowering vines, plentiful blooming desert flora and native date palm trees create a calming ambiance, providing shade from the desert sun. 

The complex is the first five-star full service hotel in the Diplomatic Quarter and features 80 spacious modern rooms, and 140 fully equipped apartments. The deluxe rooms feature modern décor and ample work space, allowing guests to stay connected with in-room technology, including high-speed WiFi and bedside USB outlets. Guests staying in one of the six Premium Suites or the Presidential Suite can enrich their experience in the M Club Lounge offering an international buffet, hors d’oeuvre and local specialties 24 hours a day. 

The Riyadh Marriott Hotel Diplomatic Quarter houses three dining venues, Goji Kitchen — an all-day dining destination, a la carte restaurant Mesquite and Agave Café located in the lobby. The hotel offers multiple recreational areas surrounded by lush greenery. 

Muin Serhan, general manager of Marriott Hotels in Riyadh, said: “The opening of Marriott Riyadh and Marriott Executive Apartments Riyadh Diplomatic Quarter is considered an important milestone in our developing journey in the hospitality field; we are keen to provide a very special experience to our valuable guests whatever they are traveling for — business or leisure.”

He added: “And we are very proud to be part of the new Marriott travel program ‘Marriott Bonvoy,’ built on the belief that travel enriches its members and the world around them. Launching in February 2019, Marriott Bonvoy replaces Marriott Rewards, The Ritz-Carlton Rewards and Starwood Preferred Guest (SPG).”