Advertising & Marketing

Lights, Camera, Tourism in the Arabian Gulf

Move over Hollywood, the Gulf region is fast becoming the location of choice for film-makers right around the world, and there’s no better tourism brand ambassador than a movie seen by millions.

“The impact of a film’s location on an audience is a very special connection,” said Mamoun Hmedan, Managing Director of Wego, Middle East’s leading travel search site. “When you watch a movie, you are transported to the world it’s created in. The location undoubtedly plays a major role in inspiring your travel choices, and to experience it for yourself.”

The Gulf has successfully established itself as an ideal location for all manner of film genres with a growing number of local and international productions selecting the UAE as a backdrop.

“The entire region offers so many dynamic backdrops; historic, visual and dramatic, all accompanied with a solid infrastructure to support large productions,” Hmedan added. 

Some of the most notable films that have successfully raised awareness of tourism hotspots include Mission Impossible – Ghost Protocol, Star Wars VII, Fast and Furious 7, Syriana, as well as an increasing number of Bollywood productions.

“Mumbai, India’s centre of Bollywood, is around three hours flight time from the UAE. It’s close proximity along with the 30 percent cash-back rebate on production costs now offered by Abu Dhabi’s Film Commission has helped to attract even more productions,” Hmedan observed. 

Dishoom, directed by Rohit Dhawan, is the largest Bollywood production undertaken in Abu Dhabi, with a crew of almost 100, began filming last month. And more big names continue to select the Middle East as their location of choice.

“Brad Pitt’s new film, War Machine, is currently in production in Abu Dhabi,” Hmedan continued. “The film has not only bought their own crew, but also placed public casting calls for locals. The economic benefits for the region are enormous and enduring, as tourists come to see for themselves where these blockbuster films were shot.”

“Travellers seek out these locations as a way to personally connect to the film that they enjoyed,” said Hmedan. “This unique impression doesn’t just raise awareness of a city, hotel or street, but actually help people to view them in a different light. We may be aware that the Burj Khalif is the tallest skyscraper in the world, but it holds an entirely new fascination after watching Tom Cruise scale it’s exterior.” 

As more directors eye the Gulf, with the third installment of the Star Trek franchise rumoured to be filmed in Dubai, the region is not only building a solid, economically beneficial ground for hosting production companies, but raising the tourism stakes to a new level.

“We’re showing the world what we’re capable of here in the UAE,” Hmedan continued. “The UAE delivers world class facilities and diverse filming locations, but also we’re growing a new respect for our own film-makers and crews, as has been evident during this year’s Dubai International Film Festival,” Hmedan continued.

“A number of local directors and writers are working with established international producers who are increasingly recognising local talent. Film tourism is on the rise,” Hmedan said in conclusion. “The positive and supportive response from the region will ensure its position as a competitive and growing travel industry.”

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