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Green carpet in United Arab Emirates welcomes India's film elite for Bollywood awards ceremony

ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Indian celebrities and Bollywood stars on Friday walked a green carpet for a second year in a row in the United Arab Emirates — the signature color of the International Indian Film Academy awards.

The 23rd edition of the “Bollywood Oscars” is being hosted at the Etihad Arena in Abu Dhabi, the UAE capital, over two days. Friday night kicked off with performances by Bollywood A-listers such as Badshah and Rajkummar Rao.

The spotlight will shift on Saturday night to the main event, a grand awards ceremony that recognizes cinematic achievements from the past year.

“Often film stars and the industry are something that’s far away from things like India and with us traveling around the world, we can bring them closer and create a bigger industry.” said Noreen Khan, vice president of IIFA.

Home to over 3.5 million Indians, the UAE has an undeniable link to India’s thriving multi-billion dollar film industry. Bollywood continues to extend its sway within the UAE, with its films being produced and screened across the country, and affluent Bollywood celebrities acquiring prime real estate properties across this federation of sheikhdoms.

“When would you ever get the chance to see Salman Khan, Shah Rukh Khan, everyone up close, so I think it would be a great way of connecting the world with Bollywood,” said veteran film director Farah Khan, who has attended every single IIFA awards.

The annual ceremony also presents an opportunity for Indian celebrities to showcase their fashion, and this year was no exception. Notable figures such as Urvashi Rautela, Abhishek Bachchan, and Nora Fatehi display their sartorial choices on the green carpet.

“Last year I was here, I met Salman Khan and he gave me three songs in his film, that’s how important it is," said singer Sukhbir Singh who will be performing on Friday. "So this is where connections are made.”

Salman Khan, one of Indian cinema’s most recognizable names and the brand ambassador for IIFA 2023, will be performing on Saturday night. Hindi film stars Abhishek Bachchan and Vicky Kaushal will be hosting the event and veteran actor Kamal Haasan is to be awarded the Outstanding Achievement in Indian Cinema award.

Over 18,000 local and international fans lined the streets and filled the Etihad Arena, eager to catch a glimpse of their favorite stars.