By Shane McGinley
Guest had paid $55,000 at Burj Khalifa charity auction to meet actress before she split with the aid agency
A Dubai charity auction guest who paid $55,000 to meet Hollywood actress Scarlett Johansson will now miss out on the prize after the star’s very public rift with Oxfam saw her resign as an ambassador for the aid agency, Arabian Business has confirmed.
The unnamed bidder paid out the sum for the chance to walk the red carpet and meet the glamourous 29-year-old actress at the after party for the US premiere of her forthcoming movie Captain American 2, which will be released next month.
A spokesperson for Oxfam, the charity which helped organise the annual ‘One Night to Change Lives’ gala fundraiser in association with UAE-based philanthropic organisation Dubai Cares, confirmed the meet and greet was not going to happen as a result of the charity's very public split with the actress.
Johansson, who had been an Oxfam Global Ambassador since 2007, said at the time: “I’m thrilled to offer this fantastic prize for the auction. I hope it raises as much money as possible for Oxfam and Dubai Cares to help in their work fighting poverty around the world.”
Her split with Oxfam came as a result of her endorsement of an Israeli firm operating in the West Bank and her appearance in a high profile Super Bowl advertisement for the brand.
The multi-million-dollar sponsorship for Israeli soda maker SodaStream caused a backlash among activists and humanitarian groups because the company’s largest factory stands in a Jewish settlement in the West Bank, which Oxfam said was "incompatible" with Johansson's role.
Oxfam said it had accepted Johansson’s decision to step down after eight years and said in a statement: “While Oxfam respects the independence of our ambassadors, Ms. Johansson’s role promoting the company SodaStream is incompatible with her role as an Oxfam Global Ambassador.
“Oxfam believes that businesses, such as SodaStream, that operate in settlements further the ongoing poverty and denial of rights of the Palestinian communities that we work to support.
“Oxfam is opposed to all trade from Israeli settlements, which are illegal under international law. Ms. Johansson has worked with Oxfam since 2005 and in 2007 became a Global Ambassador, helping to highlight the impact of natural disasters and raise funds to save lives and fight poverty.
An Oxfam spokesperson told Arabian Business they would negotiate with the bidder to come to some arrangement and see if there was a possible alternative prize that could be offered.