Happy New Year, Star Wars, Dabangg, Mission Impossible: 11 Popular Movies Filmed in the United Arab Emirates


The United Arab Emirates has, over the last two decades, become a popular shooting destination for filmmakers from around the world. The country’s massive sand dunes, awe-inspiring skyscrapers, gorgeous mountains and picturesque islands provide a variety of locations for directors and cinematographers to experiment with. Home to around 200 nationalities, the UAE also offers casting flexibility and has schemes and processes in place to help filmmakers save on production costs. As a result, many movies have been shot or partially shot in the UAE. Here’s a list of the most popular Hollywood and Bollywood movies shot here:

1. Mission Impossible – Ghost Protocol (2001)

Some of the most memorable sequences of this American action spy film were shot in the UAE. Tom Cruise, in his role of IMF agent Ethan Hunt, was seen climbing to the top of the tallest building in the world, the Burj Khalifa in Downtown Dubai. The film also depicted a typical dust storm and was also shot in other prominent locations of Dubai, such as Satwa, Dubai International Financial Centre and Palm Jumeirah.

2. Welcome (2007)

Anees Bazmee’s comedy film — featuring Feroz Khan, Akshay Kumar, Nana Patekar, Anil Kapoor, Katrina Kaif, Paresh Rawal, and Mallika Sherawat — included a number of scenes and a song filmed in Dubai. A large portion of its 2015 sequel, Welcome Back, was also shot in the UAE, and it was the first Bollywood movie to be filmed inside the Emirates Palace in Abu Dhabi. Other shooting locations included various five star hotelsin Dubai, the Burj Khalifa and Dubai’s Margham desert.

3. Race (2008)

Abbas Mustan’s action thriller — starring Saif Ali Khan, Anil Kapoor, Akshaye Khanna, Katrina Kaif and Bipasha Basu — showcased luxury and grandeur, and so had a climax scene set in Dubai, which included car chases, aerial views of the emirate and scenes in several other locations.

4. Dabangg (2010)

Salman Khan’s popular cop film, where he plays ace cop Chulbul Pandey, included a song Chori Kiya Re jiya O Re Piya, which was shot in the UAE, against the backdrop of Dubai’s skyscrapers, at Khalid bin Al Waleed metro station and in the desert, where Salman and Sonakshi Sinha were seen taking a selfie with a falcon in their hands. The song was also partly shot at the Emirates Palace Hotel in Abu Dhabi, with the onscreen couple seen walking together inside the hotel.

5. Happy New Year (2014)

Farah Khan’s action comedy – featuring  Shah Rukh Khan, Deepika Padukone, Abhishek Bachchan, Sonu Sood, Boman Irani, Vivaan Shah and Jackie Shroff — was mainly shot in the UAE, with a song shot in Dubai Mall. Most of the shoot, including the entire climax, took place in Dubai’s luxury hotel, Atlantis, The Palm, a popular tourist desination. Farah revealed that she had written the film’s script keeping Dubai in mind.

6. Bang Bang! (2014)

This action comedy film, starring Hrithik Roshan and Katrina Kaif, was an official adaptation of Hollywood film Knight and Day. An action-packed schedule, including chase sequences, was shot at various locations in Abu Dhabi, including Emirates Palace, Yas Island, Corniche, Hyatt Capital Gate Hotel, Qasr Al Sarab and Liwa Oasis. This was the first Bollywood movie to be filmed and co-produced in Abu Dhabi.

7. Star Wars Episode VII – The Force Awakens (2015)

This installment of Star Wars, starring Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Daisy Ridley and John Boyega, was shot in the diverse Liwa and Rub’ al Khali deserts in Abu Dhabi. Director JJ Abrams said it “was an incredible thing” and added, “Star Wars is a Western and a fairy tale… shooting in Abu Dhabi was just that!”

8. Furious 7 (2015)

The film — starring Paul Walker, Vin Diesel, Jason Statham, Dwayne Johnson, Tyrese Gibson and Djimon Hounsou — was  partially shot in Abu Dhabi in various locations, including Yas Island, the Liwa Desert and the Emirates Palace hotel. It also included a popular stunt, a double-skyscraper jump, between the Etihad Towers.

9. Syriana (2015)

Starring George Clooney, Matt Damon and Jeffrey Wright, Syriana was based on petroleum politics. The blockbuster included several desert scenes based in Iran, which were actually shot in Dubai.

10. Star Trek – Beyond (2016)

Based on the popular television science fiction series, this movie was part of a reboot franchise. It stars Chris Pine, Simon Pegg, Zachary Quinto, Zoe Saldana and Karl Urban. Dubai was chosen to depict the  the futuristic starbase Yorktown. Members of the cast and crew described the emirate as a ‘futureland’ and ‘a gateway to new cultures’. The film was shot in the Burj Al Arab, at Meydan Racetrack, Sheikh Zayed Road, JLT and Downtown Dubai.

11. Saaho (2019)

Sujeeth’s Indian action thriller film, starring Prabhas, included a long high-octane action sequence shot near the Burj Khalifa, with a huge budget of INR 25 crores. Several other action scenes in Saaho were also filmed in Abu Dhabi. The shoot brought together an A-list international action team to the UAE and also received support from UAE-based film professionals. 

These are just a few of the many movies filmed in the UAE. As per news reoprts, more than 1,000 films were shot here in 2018. Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Ras Al Khaimah have become preferred locations for shooting, especially when the film’s subject requires a portrayal of the Middle East or of luxury living or if the film contains high-octane action sequences, which need to be shot against the backdrop of tall buildings or the desert. Cinegoers can expect to see much more of the country on the silver screen in the next couple of years.

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Author: ApnayOnline

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