Abu Dhabi & Dubai: Competing to Attract Bollywood Film Shoots

Though Dubai may be ahead in the race, Abu Dhabi (UAE capital) is pulling up its socks and working hard to attract more Bollywood Film Shoots. Not only will it attract more tourists to the region, its also a different source of revenue for them, which is not dependent on oil.

Which city comes to the mind, if you talk about the UAE? For most its Dubai, especially if you’re located in India. In fact, for most Indians in smaller cities, the names that come to the mind when you talk about Gulf or Middle East, are Dubai and Saudi. If given an opportunity, many would definitely love to go to Dubai.

However, Abu Dhabi is making sure it gets its presence felt. Both the cities anyways are friendly rivals when it comes to investment and tourism in that region. Now they’re competing for Bollywood shoots as well.

Abu Dhabi vs Dubai

Dubai, of course has the first-movers advantage as several Bollywood movies (and substantial portions of it) have already been shot here. Abu Dhabi, on the other hand, has lately realized the potential of attracting film shoots and is working hard to persuade Hindi filmmakers to shoot films Abu Dhabi.

So while ‘Happy New Year’ was filmed in the luxury hotel The Atlantis, The Palm, in Dubai, Abu Dhabi managed to get the team of Bang Bang to film at their locations.


And while ‘Welcome Back’ was filmed in Dubai, Akshay Kumar’s ‘Baby’ has been shot in Abu Dhabi.

So you can see, in recent times, they have been neck to neck.

Advantages of Dubai

Shooting in Dubai does offer few advantages:

The local film council is flexible about permissions and other logistics.
Dubai has glamorous locations (and buildings)…that’s what its famous for the world over…isn’t it?

Besides, they have a sizeable Indian expatriate community, making the UAE one of the most important markets for Bollywood, after the United States and the United Kingdom.

And filmmakers know that if a film is shot at a particular location, locals there will flock to see that film, and that film will do well at that location. Dubai is definitely one of the bigger markets for Hindi films, which will only grow in the future.

The high-profile Hollywood movie ‘Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol’ was shot in Dubai and had scenes where Tom Cruise scaled the fa├žade of the ‘Burj Khalifa’, the tallest structure on earth.

Read: Bollywood films shot in Dubai

Advantages of Abu Dhabi

Here are some of the positives of filming in Abu Dhabi.

The city can look modern, but also has that typical middle-eastern look and has locations that can double up as Pakistan and Afghanistan. The movie Bang Bang used a mixture of neighbourhoods and hotels.

The other factor that really helps to woo filmmakers away from other destinations is the rebate that Abu Dhabi offers on shooting expenses. The 30% cash-back production incentive in the form of a rebate, has been attractive not just to Hollywood and Bollywood producers, but also to regional filmmakers.

Out-station producers need to spend a minimum of $50,000 for a commercial and $200,000 for a movie to be eligible for the rebate. Hollywood films that have been recently filmed in Abu Dhabi include ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’ and Furious 7.

Read: Bollywood films shot in Abu Dhabi