Hollywood’s iconic Walk of Fame is set for its latest foreign iteration: the Arabian Walk of Fame.
The Hollywood Chamber of Commerce and Beirut-based company Milestones have signed an agreement to license the Walk of Fame in the Middle East, where the public monument celebrating achievement in entertainment is to be replicated, albeit with some tweaks.
The Arabian Walk of Fame will use “a different symbol” from the stars along the sidewalk in Hollywood and will be “elevated off the ground per Middle Eastern tradition,” Milestones and the Hollywood chamber said in a joint statement. Like the original monument, the Arabian Walk of Fame “will give outstanding honorees from the Middle East the opportunity to be recognized in their own territories.”
Just where it will be located, however, has yet to be decided. The region is rife with political tensions, such as the current sea and air blockade imposed on Qatar by several Arab countries, including Saudi Arabia and Egypt. Milestones CEO Albert Bamboukian told Variety that various scenarios are under consideration, including having an Arabian Walk of Fame spread across different Middle Eastern cities. Alternatively, “it could be one city for everyone,” he said. “We are trying to work these things out with the local authorities.”
The Walk of Fame has already been licensed to Canada, where it has been re-branded as Canada’s Walk of Fame and occupies 13 blocks of sidewalk in Toronto, and to Hong Kong, where it is known as The Avenue of Stars. The Hollywood Walk of Fame encompasses 15 blocks of Hollywood Boulevard and three blocks of Vine Street in Los Angeles, which are embedded with more than 2,600 stars.
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Hollywood Chamber of Commerce President Leron Gubler said in the statement with Milestones that the new agreement “will provide an opportunity for the Walk of Fame model to be expanded in other regions and meet our mission to recognize celebrities internationally.”
Bamboukian said a key aspect of his vision for an Arabian Walk of Fame is to help foster a Hollywood-like star system across the Arab world, where there are regional celebrities but no systematic way to acknowledge them. “I believe that everyone is excited to recognize the Arabic stars, celebrities, with outstanding achievements,” he said. Honorees will be chosen according to the same process that Hollywood uses to select new additions to its walk.
“We will have a committee which will basically have the nominees reviewed and evaluated according to the set criteria and specifications,” Bamboukian said, adding: “This region has great ties with Hollywood and the Walk of Fame brand is highly recognized and respected…it’s international.”
The agreement to replicate the Hollywood Walk of Fame in the Middle East comes just as Saudi Arabia is entering the entertainment arena after lifting a 35-year-old local ban on movie theaters last December. Bamboukian said there is synergy with Saudi’s new course.
“It is very supportive to what we want to do,” he said. “I think it’s going to be very positive.”