Where to shoot in Dubai?
Dubai is home to a world of locations within its 1,587 square miles - whether historical or modern, natural or man-made, indoor or outdoor. We asked the Dubai Film and TV Commission to give us an overview of the five most popular sites for filmmakers.
Producers enjoy filming in the Emirate for many reasons, due to its geographic and demographic diversity, allowing them to make Dubai what they want it to be.
The city encompasses a collection of locations and diverse landscapes including golden deserts, rugged sand dunes, majestic mountain ranges, turquoise waters, and a natural creek that traverses the Emirate.
It is also here that date palms, wild grasses and hyacinths flourish, and where the seas house over 300 species of marine life, including coral reefs, whales, sharks and dolphins.
Though there are more than just five, these impressive landmarks come to mind as the most popular for shooting in Dubai:
Sheikh Zayed Road
Sheikh Zayed Road is the main artery of the city and one of the most sought after filming locations, appealing to productions that desire an urban look, due to the ultra-modern skyscrapers on both sides of the highway. Countless movies including Bollywood’s Heartless filmed scenes on Sheikh Zayed Road, successfully capturing the stunning skyline, a particularly breath-taking visual at night.
In downtown Dubai filmmakers can find some of the city's most iconic landmarks including Burj Khalifa, Dubai Mall, and the Dubai Fountain. It is a cosmopolitan district which hosts a large percentage of the 200 nationalities living in Dubai and it draws attention of many directors. Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol is the most notable movie shot here, starring Tom Cruise scaling the world’s tallest building, Burj Khalifa.
The marina is a district that is carved along a two mile stretch of Arabian Gulf shoreline. It consists of major landmarks including the famous Walk, the beach, the promenade, the metro and Marina Mall. This location is popular amongst filmmakers for its mixed marina and urban setting. The TV series Ya Malak Kalbi, which recently completed filming, featured scenes in Dubai Marina.
Gold, Spice, and Textile Souqs
Deira and Bur Dubai are historic districts in Dubai that are home to traditional souqs (markets) and prominent mosques, including the Grand Mosque, which has the city's tallest minaret. The districts are very popular with filmmakers, as they also feature several historic buildings and museums. The districts’ shopping streets and souqs are a must for productions looking for a “traditional” Arabic backdrop. Many movies have been filmed in these areas including City of Life, Diamond Necklace, Ramiya Vataviya, The Bourne Legacy and Ustad Hotel.
The Dubai Creek is a natural seawater inlet that divides the city of Dubai into two parts – Deira and Bur Dubai. Several boutique hotels, golf courses and yacht clubs are located along the creek’s banks and appeal to tourists and filmmakers alike. The Bollywood movie Mental, directed by Sohail Khan and starring his brother Salman Khan, was recently filmed near this stunning place.
So these are our five favourites when it comes to filming in Dubai. However, we would like to add another cheeky one, seeing as it is officially set outside of the city...
If you’re looking for the natural beauty of the UAE or a historic Arabic setting for your next film, Dubai’s spectacular deserts are an ideal choice. Rugged sand dunes, stark mountains and ancient villages characterize Dubai’s deserts. Remarkably, these deserts are located just minutes from the bustle of downtown Dubai. Al Qudra Desert, a favourite among commercial and film producers alike, is a mere ten minute drive from Dubai Studio City. In a single day, film crew can easily shoot a quintessential urban scene by day, and capture the serenity of the desert by night. What more can you wish for?