Stand #withMalala in Abu Dhabi

There aren’t a lot of positive stories coming out of the Arab world these days. Between ISIS, Syria, the refugee crisis and the contorted dances of modern diplomacy, the Region could look pretty grim to an outsider.

Yet if you move in the right circles, mingle with a select cultural crowd and call cinematic crews your playing grounds, the Middle East is actually ripe with beautiful and heartwarming narratives. And even more so if you live and love cinema as much as I do, you begin to realize that our way back from these dark times could lie in the healing and unifying power of the seventh art.

Nowhere was this more apparent than at a recent screening for He Named Me Malala inside the Emirates Palace in Abu Dhabi, introduced by Image Nation Abu Dhabi CEO Michael Garin. One look around the crowd, gathered there by invitation only, and I could see English boys in black suits mingling with their female counterparts in pretty floral dresses, Emirati men in starched white thawb talking about this, that and sports, women in fashionable black abayas detailed with lace “Instagramming” about their lives, and a variety of expats from Lebanon, Iraq, Syria and Jordan, with plenty of Palestine sprinkled in, all enjoying the global atmosphere.

Because that’s the alternate truth of the Middle East, the story not told on the news.

Check out more from the Middle East premiere of He Named Me Malala and feel your inner activist (and feminist) emerge by reading my whole piece on the Huffington Post Entertainment blog.

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