Making a movie or a video clip is an extremely complicated task. There are so many factors to consider and control in production and post-production:

  • hiring actors and necessary specialists,
  • agreeing on the schedule,
  • shooting,
  • creating the soundtrack,
  • editing,
  • marketing, and
  • even analyzing feedback.

Top 7 Filming Locations in the United Arab Emirates

One more important step in filmmaking is choosing the locations.

With modern technologies, it’s easy to rent a studio, wrap it in green screen (or blue screen, if necessary), put motion capture suits on actors, and cover everything with CGI effects. However, it has its own drawbacks.

First, it’s expensive. Second, the audience will spot the bad special effects almost immediately. That’s why in some situations, the physical set wins.

The United Arab Emirates is rich in eye-pleasing locations. If you want to shoot some scenes in the UAE, check out the following list and choose what suits your project.

filming locations in the united arab emirates

The United Arab Emirates: Overview

Before discussing the most beautiful and eye-pleasing locations for making a movie in the United Arab Emirates, let’s take a general look at the country, its climate, nature, urban life, laws, and film production. It will help you grasp a better understanding of how to work in the UAE.

The United Arab Emirates is a Western-Asian country located on the Arabian Peninsula.

The UAE consists of seven emirates that are united under the federative government. The country’s history starts way before our era and all the events that happened on its territory left a huge cultural heritage.

The Modern Emirates are successfully merging the traditions and beauty of the previous generation with technological advances of the 21st century. All emirates have Islam as their official religion and obey Sharia law.

filming locations in the united arab emirates

The UAE has a hot climate since a lot of its terrain is desert. In summer, the average temperature is approximately 45 °C (113 °F) and in winter, it can reach 12 °C (54 °F) which makes winters quite warm. Besides, the coastal region is more uncomfortable with its higher temperatures and lower rainfall.

Talking about the film industry, the most influential Emirati organization that manages the production processes is Abu Dhabi Film Commission.

The agency was created in 2009 and supported by the government of the UAE. The main goal of the commission is to continue making Abu Dhabi a popular international shooting location.

Working with Abu Dhabi Film Commission can give you some perks like a 30% refund on filming in Abu Dhabi and assistance with the necessary permissions.

Now the Abu Dhabi Film Commission is responsible for maintaining the industry according to COVID-19 regulations.

For example, they arrange separate accommodation for different crews so they won’t cross paths with each other.

Also, they have employed dozens of health advisors that control the team’s compliance with the protocols and rules.

Another organization that can help you make a movie in the UAE is twofour54. This company’s main goal is to speed up the development of the media industry in Abu Dhabi and attract both local content creators and businesses from abroad. twofour54 offers production services, office facilities, and even training opportunities.

Even though the pandemic has changed some rules during the recent two years, the United Arab Emirates keeps staying a popular destination for filmmakers.

Its nature, cities, and historical locations can contribute a lot to your project. Here are the most aesthetic Emirati places where you can arrange shootings.

Hatta Heritage Village

This reconstruction of an Emirati village was opened in 2001 and is located right outside Dubai.

The light-blue water between grey rocky mountains creates a perfect attraction for tourists, historians, and, of course, filmmakers.

The buildings are constructed from rocks, palm tree trunks, and mud, which makes the location look natural and authentic. Perfect place for documentaries and historical movies.

The Emirates Palace

We are moving from traditional rural sightseeing to the luxury and grace of modern Emirates.

The Emirates Palace is a 5-star hotel located in Abu Dhabi. It was opened four years after the Hatta village and has the most magnificent interior design.

The hotel successfully combined the most common elements of Islamic architecture like balance and geometry with modern design styles and construction methods.

The marble and gold of this location are loved by filmmakers. For example, the Emirates Palace already appeared in The Kingdom and Fast and Furious 7.

filming locations in the united arab emirates

Textile Souk

This textile market in Dubai is filled with local color and national culture. The location is known since the 18th century and was a huge part of trading in Dubai and around the Persian Gulf.

Even though the market has had a bit of renovation, its traditional architecture is carefully maintained.

The number of colors and sounds, the fast rhythm, and the overall atmosphere make Textile Souk perfect for filming market scenes.

Burj Khalifa

Making another transition from cultural heritage to the present-day extravaganza, we can’t but mention Burj Khalifa.

It’s the tallest skyscraper in the world with a total height of 2,722 ft or 829.8 m.

It took five years to finish the construction and now we have one of the most eye-catching and attractive locations.

This building has already been shown in Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol in 2011.

We all saw this incredible stunt when Tom Cruise climbed the side of the building. For you, Burj Khalifa will be a perfect setting for rich lifestyle filming.

Add some expensive cars from a luxury car rental in Dubai, dress your actors in design suites — and your luxurious setting is ready.

filming locations in the united arab emirates

Louvre Abu Dhabi

Yes, Paris is not the only city in the world that can brag about having a Louvre. Saadiyat Island has a magnificent building made of steel and concrete that is allowed to use the name “Louvre” until 2037.

It’s easy to guess that Louvre Abu Dhabi is an art museum that showcases the works of both the Eastern and Western cultures.

Its size is around 24,000 square meters (or about 260,000 square feet) and the building’s architecture is beyond showstopping.

The giant layered dome represents date palm leaves in an oasis with sunlight beaming through them. It’s built out of steel and aluminum which makes it steady and solid even with such a feathery look.

This location was used in a Netflix movie 6 Underground starring Ryan Reynolds, Mélanie Laurent, Ben Hardy, and Dave Franco.

The streaming services collaborated with the above-mentioned twofour54 to have some shots in the United Arab Emirates. As a result, the film production used 27 locations including the Louvre Abu Dhabi.

Rub’ al Khali Desert

If you are planning to focus on nature and get some magnificent landscape views, Rub’ al Khali desert is exactly what you need. The endless sea of sand is covered with dunes and gravel plains creating a unique image.

The daytime there is bright and dry and nights are full of starlight. It has a typical desert climate with hot days and cold nights, so make sure to have appropriate protection and clothes.

It’s worth mentioning that Rub’ al Khali already hosted the shootings of the recently released Dune by Denis Villeneuve.

The sandy views of the planet Arrakis were taken in this desert. It was a taxing experience for the actors and crew to make a movie in such harsh conditions with an average temperature of 50 °C (120 °F), but the final result was worth it.

Liwa Desert

The United Arab Emirates is rich in breathtaking desert views and Rub’ al Khali is not the only place to give them to filmmakers.

The desert of Liwa is located near the east of Rub’ al Khali and has the most spectacular combination of terrains.

In addition, Liwa can give you the opportunity of making a movie in the oasis that is placed about 150 km or 93 miles from the city of Abu Dhabi. The area is extremely large and has around 50 villages. It’s a perfect traditional Arabic setting.

This desert is responsible for the deserted landscape of the planet Jakku from Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens. Besides, Liwa is in favor of those who create movies about speed.

For example, Fast and Furious 7 has a scene where the team drives across the dunes of Liwa. Another movie with the desert drive that was shot in Liwa is an Indian Race 3.

Wrapping It Up

Shooting in the United Arab Emirates can bring more uniqueness and charm to your project.

And if you didn’t find the right location on the list, there are plenty of other options to choose from.

However, when you decide to make some scenes in this country, be sure to learn how to properly arrange all the legal work.

Get the necessary permissions from authorities and follow the rules.

If you stick to the guidelines and no force majeures happen, your production will go smoothly and the final video will be excellent.