25th October, 2016


Image Nation Abu Dhabi, one of the leading media and entertainment companies in the Middle East, has announced the world premiere of its upcoming football documentary The Lights of Rome will be held at the DOC NYC film festival this November.

The documentary preserves an important moment in Emirati history, when the underdog UAE national football team pulled off a near-miracle by qualifying for the 1990 World Cup in Italy.

Mohammed Al Mubarak, chairman of Image Nation Abu Dhabi, said: “The Lights of Rome is one of our films that is so close to my heart as it tells the story of my childhood. This film is not only another entertaining and informative documentary to add to our slate, it will serve as a historical document that finally details the legacy of what those players achieved for UAE and Middle East football.”

The film interviews UAE Football legends Ali Thani, Abdulrahman Al-Haddad and Khalid Ismaïl – who scored the now legendary goal against West Germany, amongst others team members.

The Image Nation’s chairman added: “I was 8 years old when the ‘golden generation’ led us to victory and it’s a memory that has stayed with me ever since. No one expected us to win, and for the first time it showed the world exactly who the UAE were. I’m hoping we can re-create these feelings once again sharing the talents, the history and the culture of the UAE on the global stage.”

The film was directed by UAE based sports journalist Ali Khalid, and produced by award-winning documentary filmmaker Stevan Riley (Fires in Babylon, Listen to Me Marlon).

Stevan Riley added: “This was a unique project to have helped develop and I discovered a lot about the UAE and the country’s history during the process.   Director Ali Khaled has uncovered a classic underdog story, of a young nation that – within only 20 years of its formation – won proud place on the biggest sporting stage of all.”

Lights of Rome is the latest documentary produced by Image Nation and adds to its burgeoning slate which includes the critically acclaimed Every Last Child [which premiered at DOC NYC in 2014], He Named Me Malala, based on the life of Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Malala Yousafzai, directed by Oscar-winning director Davis Guggenheim, released by Fox Searchlight in association with Participant Media and National Geographic Channel, and As One: The Autism Project, a film chronicling the challenges faced by a group of autistic children in the UAE.


Danielle Perissi, head of documentary and factual entertainment at Image Nation Abu Dhabi, said: ““Through our documentary work, the Image Nation team has the opportunity to memorialize important cultural and historical events for the UAE. What’s so powerful about this film in particular is that we have captured real experiences from real people, helping to bridge between cultures and generations. We hope it will leave a lasting impression for the next generation of Emiratis, as well as the broader community in the UAE and around the world.”


Mad Solutions, a leading Pan-Arab film distributor and film studio, will distribute the film in the Middle East, with Cinetic handling US distribution.


The film will premiere November 17 at DOC NYC, with a theatrical release and UAE premiere to be announced imminently.