International Year of Light Film with 1001 Inventions to Premiere in Dubai International Film Festival

The legacy of renowned Egyptian actor Omar Sharif will be celebrated at the 12th edition of the Dubai International Film Festival (DIFF) this December through the world premiere screening of his last film, ‘1001 Inventions and the World of Ibn Al-Haytham’. Sharif, whose passing in July saddened the world of film and beyond, came out of retirement to support the short film from award-winning director and producer Ahmed Salim, which will be screened twice at this year’s DIFF. It forms the final part of the 15-strong line-up of films in the Muhr Gulf Shorts category at the Festival. The film is officially endorsed by the International Year of Light and Light-based Technologies 2015 (IYL 2015) and will be part of an Ibn Al-Haytham global campaign by 1001 Inventions in partnership with UNESCO that includes exhibits, books, live shows and learning materials.


The UK and UAE co-produced film focuses on the scientific journey of 11th Century Arab polymath and philosopher Ibn Al-Haytham. It follows his journey to discover the nature of light and vision, which helped set the foundation for modern science and named him the father of experimental physics, modern optics and scientific methodology, as well as a grandfather of the camera obscura – the device that forms the basis of photography and cinematography. The story was one close to Omar Sharif’s heart, who studied physics before embarking on his groundbreaking film career. Taking the lead role in the short film, Sharif guides younger audiences through a partly animated storyline of Ibn Al-Haytham’s journey into understanding vision.

As one whose life in and out of film was responsible for great strides in Arab cinema both in the region and across the globe, Sharif collaborated with UK based organisation 1001 Inventions to showcase the importance and amazing possibilities following your dreams can offer. Filmmaker Ahmed Salim dedicated the short to this legacy after Sharif’s passing. 

‘1001 Inventions and the World of Ibn Al-Haytham’ will be joining the exceptional Muhr Gulf Shorts line-up, which each year showcases the best of regional talent and cinematic courage.

DIFF’s Artistic Director, Masoud Amralla Al Ali, commented on Omar Sharif’s legacy and the film’s addition to the Muhr Gulf Shorts category: “We were deeply saddened by the passing of Omar Sharif, whose career and life has left a lasting impact on the film industry and beyond. DIFF awarded Omar Sharif with the prestigious Lifetime Achievement Award during the first edition in 2004, and today with his great strides in Arab cinema it is very fitting that we honour his last film in the Muhr Gulf Short Film category, which we strive to ensure showcases the best talent and ingenuity from across the region and to the wider cinematic world.” 

Filmmaker Ahmed Salim commented: “I am truly honoured that our short film will have its World Premiere in Dubai but saddened that Omar Sharif will not be with us. Ibn Al-Haytham’s inspirational life and his contributions to our world deserved to be appreciated by everyone especially the world of cinema and photography. This film attempts to honour his legacy and I hope it will engage the hearts and minds of millions of young people around the world.”   

About 1001 Inventions

1001 Inventions is an award-winning, British based organisation that creates international educational campaigns and engaging transmedia productions aiming to raise awareness of the contributions to science, technology and culture from the Golden Age of Muslim Civilisation.

For one thousand years from the 7th century onwards, inspirational men and women, of different faiths and cultures, built upon knowledge of ancient civilisations, making discoveries that have had a huge and often underappreciated impact on our world. In an area that spread from Spain to China, this Golden Age of Muslim Civilisation saw fascinating advancements in science and technology that helped pave the way for the European Renaissance.

Over the last decade, 1001 Inventions has engaged with over 200 million people across the globe, with educational campaigns in cities such as in LondonIstanbulNew YorkWashington DCLos AngelesKuala LumpurAbu Dhabi and Jeddah.  

1001 Inventions works with a network of international partners and leading academics, and through its academic partner FSTC (UK), to produce world-class experiences, interactive exhibitsfeature films, live shows, books and classroom learning materials that are being used by hundreds of thousands of educators around the world.

Further information can be found at

About ‘1001 Inventions and The World of Ibn Al-Haytham’

Produced by 1001 Inventions and King Abdul Aziz Center for World Culture in partnership with UNESCO and ‘The International Year of Light 2015’ to celebrate the scientific legacy and achievements of the remarkable 11th century scientist Ibn al-Haytham. 

With the life and work of Ibn al-Haytham as an inspiration, the campaign aims to deliver a series of international events, public outreach campaigns and engaging learning experiences to incite inquisitiveness and curiosity and encourage young people to study and pursue science careers while promoting intercultural understanding, entrepreneurial and scientific thinking.

Further information can be found at

About DIFF

The Dubai International Film Festival (DIFF) is the leading film festival in the region. Since its inception in 2004, the festival has served as an influential platform for Arab filmmakers and talent at an international level, by spearheading the cinema movement in the region. The 12th edition of DIFF will take place from December 9 – 16, 2015.

Further information could be found at:

About IYL 2015

The International Year of Light and Light-Based Technologies (IYL 2015) is a global initiative adopted by the United Nations (A/RES/68/221) to raise awareness of how optical technologies promote sustainable development and provide solutions to worldwide challenges in energy, education, agriculture, communications and health.  With UNESCO as lead agency, IYL 2015 programs will promote improved public and political understanding of the central role of light in the modern world while also celebrating noteworthy anniversaries in 2015—from the first studies of optics 1,000 years ago to discoveries in optical communications that power the Internet today.  The IYL Global Secretariat is located at the Abdus Salam International Centre of Theoretical Physics (ICTP).

The Founding Partners of IYL 2015 are the American Institute of Physics (AIP), the American Physical Society (APS), the Deutsche Physikalische Gesellschaft (DPG), the European Physical Society (EPS), the Abdus Salam International Centre of Theoretical Physics (ICTP), the IEEE Photonics Society (IPS), the Institute of Physics (IOP), Light: Science and Applications, the International Network, 1001 Inventions, The Optical Society (OSA) and the International Society for Optics and Photonics (SPIE). 

Patron Sponsors include Bosca, the International Association of Lighting Designers (IALD), Royal Philips Lighting, Thorlabs and UL.


Ahmed Salim
Producer and Director
1001 Inventions

John Dudley
Steering Committee Chair
International Year of Light and Light-based Technologies 2015

Joe Niemela
Global Coordinator (IYL Secretariat)
International Year of Light and Light-based Technologies 2015