The films you didn’t know were shot in the UAE
If you take a look at the most popular films there are some that were shot right here at home in the UAE.
The United Arab Emirates is a picturesque smorgasbord of landscapes, from expansive deserts, to glistening glass skylines, to traditional Emirati architecture, there’s a lot of good stuff to point a camera at. This opportunity is not unnoticed by top filmmakers as a whole host of blockbusters have chosen the UAE as a filming location. Some of them however, you might not know about.
Here’s a look at those films:
Star Trek Beyond (2016)
Meydan Racetrack, Burj Al Arab, Sheikh Zayed Road, JLT and Downtown Dubai
If you’ve ever strained your neck looking up at the plethora of futuristic buildings in Dubai, you wouldn’t be alone. In fact, script co-writer for 2016’s Star Trek film, Simon Pegg did the very same, and described Dubai as a “gateway to new cultures.”
Areas of Dubai were chosen to make up the ‘Yorktown Starbase’ in the film, a peaceful, prosperous, and affluent star ship which was home to a wide variety of people and species. Chris Pine, who played Captain Kirk, said Dubai was a “futureland” during filming.
Different parts of Dubai were shot and then given the special effects magic to make them look even more futuristic than they already are. Yorktown is shown as having teleporters, gravity-defying public transport, and glamorous water features.
Furious 7 (2015)
Emirates Palace Hotel, Liwa Desert, Yas Island and Etihad Towers
Okay so you probably did know about this one, the scenes in Abu Dhabi are some of the most iconic in all of Fast & Furious’ long history. Chief among these scenes was when Paul Walker and Vin Diesel smashed through the three Etihad Towers in the US $3.4 Lykan HyperSport.
The Etihad Towers complex is one of the tallest buildings in the world, with its tallest point, Etihad Tower 2, being 305 metres tall, making it the 25th tallest building in the UAE. Still, Vin Diesel flew through each of these buildings without breaking a sweat.
During the crew’s stay in the UAE capital, we also got a look at Emirates Palace Hotel, which the crew can be seen lounging by, the Liwa Desert which they swiftly race past, and the famous Yas Island.
Star Wars Episode VII: The Force Awakens (2015)
The Empty Quarter
The Empty Quarter is the largest contiguous sand desert in the world, encompassing 650,000 km² and covering parts of Saudi Arabia, Oman and the United Arab Emirates. Turns out it is also the place to shoot some alien wasteland scenes in Star Wars.
Jakku is a desert world in the Western reaches of the galaxy in Star Wars, it is the home to the new trilogy’s main hero Rey and a key location for a large portion of the film’s early action and plot development.
The Middle East’s desert regions are a top pick for film makers looking for a Martian vibe, with Jordan’s deserts often being used for Mars depictions.
Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol (2011)
The Palm Jumeirah, Dubai International Financial Centre, Downtown, Burj Khalifa
Okay so this is definitely the most obvious on the list, but we couldn’t leave it out. One of the most infamous moments in all of cinematic espionage, Tom Cruise’s Ethan Hunt scales the 830 metre Burj Khalifa, currently the tallest building in the world.
The crazy scene has Hunt climb the glass spire with nothing more than a pair of sticky electromagnetic gloves, one of which claps out so Hunt essentially climbs the Burj with one hand. Given it’s the tallest building in the world, viewers got some great views of the rest of Dubai, including DIFC and the Palm.
Craziest of all, Cruise did the stunt himself, and repotedly injured himself when he almost smashed into one of the windows while on a rope. Speaking of, the film crew had permission to remove huge windows from the Burj to allow for easier filming, which was comprised of swinging cameras around the building hundreds of metres in the air.
6 Underground (2019)
Louvre Abu Dhabi, Aldar HQ, Sheikh Zayed Bridge, Sheikh Zayed Mosque
Set to be the most expensive film Netflix has ever distributed at around AED 560 million, Ryan Reynolds’ Underground 6 is a truly international affair. The film takes place in numerous familiar cities, one of which is the capital of the UAE.
Trailers show baddies hanging out on top of the Aldar HQ, the largest spherical building in the region, as well as Reynolds and his crew tangled up in blowy-upy adventures and car chases throughout the Emirate. Recognisable backdrops include Sheikh Zayed Bridge and the popular Sheikh Zayed Mosque.