Dubai to turn into blockbuster town

Filming in Dubai is about to get a whole lot easier. We speak to Jamal Al Sharif, Chairman of Dubai Film and TV Commission, to find out why



By Mohamad Kadry (kadry@khaleejtimes.com)

Published: Tue 27 May 2014, 11:04 AM

Last updated: Fri 3 Apr 2015, 8:15 PM

Jamal al Sharif, Chairman of Dubai Film and TV Commission (pictured right), credits films like Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol, with drawing the world’s attention to Dubai as a shooting location

Jamal al Sharif, Chairman of Dubai Film and TV Commission (pictured right), credits films like Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol, with drawing the world’s attention to Dubai as a shooting location

With its futuristic skyline and picturesque desert landscape, it’s no surprise that more and more directors have been turning to Dubai for their latest film and TV projects.

Whether it’s shooting from the world’s tallest tower or the city’s oldest souk, there’s a definite charm to be found here and Hollywood and Bollywood have been taking notice.

But getting things done in Dubai can seem daunting for production crews who have never shot here before, so in order to continue attracting major projects to town, a bit of in-house organisation was needed. That’s where the newly launched ‘Film Dubai Production Guide’ comes in.

Launched by the Dubai Film and TV Commission (DFTC), the directory will help film productions navigate through the seemingly endless maze of permits, locations, talent and just about any other detail that comes along with filming here. Whether it’s for an epic blockbuster film or a small reality TV show, Dubai is trying to make things easier for anyone looking to use the city as a backdrop to their productions.

We caught up with Jamal Al Sharif, Chairman of Dubai Film and TV Commission, to get a better understanding of what this guide will do for the future of Dubai’s entertainment industry.

In terms of big film productions, what are a few things you believe Dubai does better than other places?

Dubai offers diverse locations and landmark infrastructure for producers from around the world shooting big budget films. Geographically, Dubai is ideally positioned between India and the US, resting firmly between the two film industry giants. Besides its famously alluring locations, Dubai also offers a deep talent pool, state-of-the-art production facilities, a smooth permit process and customised soft incentives for those choosing to shoot in the emirate. Dubai is also renowned for exceptional casting. With a population of two million people and 200 nationalities, big film productions are able to take advantage of significant casting flexibility.

Why do you think interest in filming here has grown so much in recent years?

There is a diverse mix of aesthetically unique locations, 340 days of sunshine throughout the year, guaranteed safety and a deep talent pool. Furthermore, Dubai’s diverse locations enable filmmakers to create Dubai into whatever they would like it to be for shoots as the city can double up into many different cities and countries.

What impact did Mission: Impossible have on Dubai?

The blockbuster film that was Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol undoubtedly drew the world’s attention to Dubai, leading to an increase in film productions travelling to shoot here from areas such as China, India and Europe. The film is estimated to have had an economic impact of around Dhs180 million on Dubai’s GDP. The city already had a burgeoning film industry but there is no denying that the publicity around the film went a long way towards demonstrating Dubai’s capabilities and credentials as a film location. The crew and talent that came to Dubai for films such as Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol and Bollywood film Happy New Year have since become our ambassadors, relaying their experiences and opinions on shooting in Dubai to other film and TV-makers, their fans, and the public.

What is the importance of a Dubai Production Guide for attracting the international film community?

The Film Dubai Production Guide is the first one-stop resource for information about filming in Dubai, connecting professionals from across every aspect of the production industry, and will therefore go a long way towards simplifying and streamlining film and TV production processes in the emirate.

Are there any exciting productions that may be shooting here soon?

There are a few projects in the pipeline - however we cannot disclose any information at this stage.


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