The world-renowned glamorous DIAFA (Distinctive International Arab Festivals Awards) return for their fourth edition in Dubai on November 29th, marking the reopening of the city after the COVID-19 pandemic. Hosted by Chaker Khazaal and Enjy Kiwan, the awards celebrate the achievements of distinguished individuals in various field. We talked to Michael Daher, the award ceremony’s Executive Producer and son of founder Dr Michel Daher, about his own accomplishments and what makes this year’s ceremony one-of-a-kind.
– Tell us a little bit about DIAFA. When was the awards ceremony created and what are its goals?
The idea to organize DIAFA came about in 2016, after the success our first award ceremony, the Beirut International Awards Festivals (BIAF). After being approached by Dubai-based companies to organize a similar ceremony in the UAE, my father, Dr. Michel Daher, launched DIAFA in February 2017. The award show’s main purpose is to celebrate the achievements of successful people from different fields and various nationalities in the United Arab Emirates.
– How did you become DIAFA’s Executive Producer, and what does this role entail?
I started managing BIAF’s social media platforms, and was responsible for the guest lists of the two first editions of DIAFA. I became Head of Operations of BIAF in 2018, where I coordinated between all the departments (production, light and sound, organization…) during the event’s preparation. Then, 2019 marked my first year as both Head of Operations and Executive Producer for DIAFA. It was terrifying to be responsible for an entire award show, broadcasted on nine TV stations, attended by the best, watched by millions. Thankfully, the event went very smoothly.
My next event was BIAF 2019, where we faced a lot of difficulties, including the weather and the inefficacy of the Lebanese Government. Still, it was a great success. We hosted more than 20 international honorees. Thousands of fans were standing screaming and trying to get the attention of Mohamed Ramadan, Baris Arduc and Nassif Zeytoun. Then came 2020. We had initially planned DIAFA for April, but the entire planet went into lockdown. Months later, as the UAE was opening up again, we started planning what will be the comeback event of Dubai.
– At such a young age, how do you balance your incredible accomplishments with BIAF and DIAFA and your medical studies?
It’s extremely difficult to do anything in parallel with medicine, but I can’t leave DIAFA and BIAF just yet. I’m a multitasker and function very well under pressure, and I feel like I still haven’t yet fully organized an extraordinary event.
– DIAFA 2020 marks the reopening of Dubai as the COVID-19 pandemic is still ongoing. What’s special about this year’s awards?
Because of the current circumstances in Lebanon, BIAF 2020 was cancelled, which breaks my heart. But the government of Dubai has been extremely successful in containing the spread of COVID-19, so the city has been decreasing restrictions step by step. We would like to thank HH Sheikh Mohamed Bin Rashed Al Maktoum and the entire government of Dubai for allowing us to hold DIAFA. Our biggest thanks go to the frontliners that saved our lives this year – doctors, nurses, policemen, firefighters, pharmacists, government workers – so we decided to dedicate this edition of DIAFA as a “Letter of Peace” from the UAE to all the frontliners around the world.
This year, we face the unprecedented challenge of maintaining strict safety protocols. We partnered with a local hospital to supervise the entire safety procedures, from RT-PCR tests to sanitization to temperature check at the door. Our security plan is also going to enforce social distancing and mask wearing.
– Which guests and honorees are you most excited to host this year?
I’m extremely excited for all the honorees, and very proud of DIAFA’s diversity. The jury committee did a very thorough selection of successful people worthy of receiving the DIAFA Award. I’m also very excited to see my amazing friends Chaker Khazaal and Enjy Kiwan, our hosts this year, as they both are long-time supporters of this event and excellent presenters and public speakers. I really hope that everyone watching will think of DIAFA as an escape from this harsh reality that we’re stuck in, and a celebration of success stories.