UAE (Dubai, and even Abu Dhabi in recent times) is among the most sought after filming locations for both Hollywood as well as Bollywood films. A supportive government, scenic & unique locations (especially suited for war movies or to show another planet), top-class buildings & malls, great infrastructure, are some of the reasons for Dubai and Abu Dhabi’s popularity among filmmakers.
Several big budget Hollywood and Bollywood have been filmed in the UAE recently, with many more lined up for production.
Akshay Kumar spotted on sets of #Airlift in UAE pic.twitter.com/qMCy8T5JbY
— ♡♔AkshaySolapurFC♔♡ (@AkshaySolapurFC) December 20, 2015
International action star ‘Jackie Chan’ filmed in the UAE for his upcoming ‘Kung Fu Yoga’. Jackie Chan (dressed in the traditional UAE garb, the kandora) was spotted at camel race at Dubai’s Al Marmoom Camel Race track.
International action star @EyeOfJackieChan at #Dubai's Al Marmoom Camel Race track pic.twitter.com/CSqPiHHN43
— Khaleej Times (@khaleejtimes) October 8, 2015
Bollywood in UAE
So what’s the biggest USP of Dubai for Indian filmmakers?
Its a world-class city, its a financial hub, and above all, it encourages businesses to come there! No doubt Dubai attracts movie-makers around the world!
Indian filmmakers can expect free flights (via Emirates), free stay (to movie producers via state owned hotels), and many more concessions/discounts. No wonder that a big budget Bollywood movie seems lot more affordable, when shot in Dubai.
And how does Dubai stand to gain?
Obviously, the exposure that this city gets is invaluable advertising which helps promote tourism to UAE (Bollywood has a global appeal now). And it certainly is a Win-Win situation for both the parties involved.
Though most Indian filmmakers in the past have used Dubai to show the link to underworld, there’s no doubt that the bond between Dubai and Bollywood is only getting steamier in recent times.
Be it the car chase in “Race”, or the romantic songs of “Dabbang”, they all have been shot here. The Emirati skyline and locations are a regular feature of Bollywood movies now.
And with Hollywood blockbusters such as “Mission Impossible” shot extensively in Dubai, even the Indian filmmakers now don’t consider Dubai as a stopgap arrangement for other exotic locations far away.
There are several reasons why most Indian filmmakers prefer Dubai over other international locations:
Dubai is also often used as a glamorous alternative to Mumbai for Bollywood premieres, and what comes in really handy for the Bollywood filmmakers is the fact that the weekend in UAE is from Friday-Saturday. It means they can have a Thursday night premiere in Dubai, which is great for generating publicity in India where the film opens on a Friday.
Bollywood Movies Shot in Dubai
Dubai Film and TV Commission (DFTC), the body responsible for promoting the desert-state as a destination for local, regional and international productions, said its been a busy year for them as they facilitated the shooting of several international productions, including Indian films such as Ramaiya Vastavaiya, Ladies and Gentleman and Mental.
Last year, the Atlantis resort on Dubai’s iconic palm-shaped island, was where Shah Rukh Khan’s ‘Happy New Year’ was shot. The Happy New Year” (“HNY”) team were in Dubai again to shoot additional scenes.
Read: How much Dubai earned from the filming of SRK’s happy new year.
Photo credit: Twitter/@bomanirani
Here are some other popular movies shot in the UAE.
EMIRATES PALACE Hotel, Abu Dhabi, UAE (Saachi Saachi Teri Nazrein song from Dabangg)
Big B’s DEN in the movie BOOM (also had Katrina in it)
In the movie Welcome, Nana Patekar throws a party at the ‘Grand Hyatt, Dubai’
Car race scene between Saif & Akshay khanna in the movie RACE, shot at AL AIN, ABU DHABI, UAE
Happy New Year vs Mission Impossible: Which Film Generated More Money for Dubai?
So how does Dubai benefit from the various Bollywood Film shoots that happen on Location? Lets take a look at how Dubai benefited from Shah Rukh Khan’s film shoot ‘Happy New Year’ vis-a-vis the production spend of Tom Cruise’s ‘Misson Impossible’ in Dubai.
Dubai is taking all the efforts to project itself as a regional production hub for movies & television, so that it generates more revenue and also gets fore tourists to that destination.
Shah Rukh Khan’s ‘Happy New Year’ became the first movie to be shoot almost entirely in the emirate city. Usually, Dubai Film and TV Commission (DFTC) deals with a smaller crew who come to Dubai for two to five days to do a dance scene; but for this one they had to learn the logistics.
DFTC worked with the production team Red Chillies Entertainment, for a year to set up the shoot in the Gulf country. For 25 days, the production company booked around 180 rooms at the Atlantis hotel for the entire cast and crew.
Figures from the Dubai Film and TV Commission suggest that the production team of SRK’s movie spent about 5 million USD locally, which is not at all a bad amount considering that its not a Hollywood production.
The benefits to the Emirate’s economy included spending on hotel rooms, flights and equipment and space rentals.
Do you know how much the filming of ‘Mission Impossible Ghost Protocol’, starring Tom cruise earned for Dubai? The Hollywood film which was shot in 2010 gave a $32m boost to the Dubai economy.
Although Dubai may not offer formal filming incentive, they do negotiate specific packages on a case-by-case basis. Dubai is a tax-free destination which is a good selling point for DFTC. Besides, they also provide several soft and hard incentives and rebates.
In the case of the Bollywood movie ‘Happy New Year’, the special deals offered stretched to air travel and immigration issues.
Bollywood Celebrities Who Own A Dubai Home
Bollywood stars love Dubai so much that many of them have bought a place of dwelling here. The list of Bollywood celebrities snapping up homes in Dubai is growing. Stars such as Shah Rukh Khan, Aishwarya Rai Bachchan, Sohail Khan and Mohanlal already own a house in Dubai.
It means, Indian celebrities don’t necessarily head back home (in India) right after they’ve finished filming or attending the premiere of a movie or some function, either; they just head to their second homes in the UAE to chill out. Bollywood celebrities who own a holiday home in Dubai.
Bollywood Designers in Demand
We all know that Dubai is the place for shopping, and there’s a good demand for luxury products.
You can drop by one of the glamorous cars showroom on the Sheikh Jayad Road, and you might even spot some of our Bollywood stars over there. After all, almost everyone would love to have a peek at a Ferrari.
Several Bollywood designers also find a healthy demand for their designs and clothing line in the Middle East. The beautiful and posh Jumeirah Beach road has several Indian designer showrooms (Ritu Kumar and Manish Malhotra).
Awards & Functions
Be it shows, promotions, movie premiers or shootings, Bollywood stars, filmmakers, designers, they all never seem to tire of Dubai. And it’s not just the Bollywood guys, Dubai is a favorite location for the the film industry down south as well.
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Dubai International Film Festival