By Andy Sambidge
Dubai International Film Festival will be YouTube's first live foray into the Middle East
YouTube will make history at this year's Dubai International Film Festival with a free live-stream of the red carpet opening on December 7 and the closing award ceremonies a week later.
Similar to the live stream of the royal wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton, DIFF's star-studded opening and closing galas will be the first entertainment event to be live-streamed in the MENA region.
YouTube, which touts 3bn views and more than 400m mobile views daily, is the fastest growing online video platform.
YouTube visitors will also have the opportunity to watch and participate via the site's social tools of commenting and sharing.
Abdulhamid Juma, chairman of Dubai International Film Festival, said: "We are thrilled to partner with Google to bring the Dubai International Film Festival to YouTube's global audience thanks to the power of video and the internet."
Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Morroco and the UAE lead MENA in terms of YouTube viewership, which has doubled regionally over the last year.
YouTube will be supporting more live-stream events in MENA, especially related to entertainment and sports, and is working on media partnerships to create new interactive formats for TV.
"There's so much more we want to do, such as partner with key content owners and have them create their own channels to maximise their reach while promoting and monetizing their content. There are definitely some exciting things in the works," said Alfonso De Gaetano, industry head for Google in the Gulf region.
To watch the YouTube live stream, visit www.youtube.com/DubaiFilmFestival.