Movie locations 20150803T033744 20170502T135035:636293298356997921 Music & Cinema

From gritty real-world dramas to science-fiction blockbusters, the number of films using Dubai as a major filming location is growing from year to year. As the local film industry matures, our city is realising its potential as a production hotspot and an attractive destination for filmmakers scouting for a unique desert backdrop. 

A Hollywood back-lot tour of Dubai 

Take a Hollywood back-lot tour of Dubai’s movie locations

Stunning desert dunes, a sweeping coastline and incredible architecture make Dubai a popular choice for filmmakers. Take a Hollywood-inspired tour of the emirate with our guide to Dubai’s hottest movie locations

The film: Star Trek Beyond (2016)
The location: Downtown and JLT


The sci-fi blockbuster, Star Trek Beyond, began filming in July 2015. The production was split between Vancouver and Dubai. Dubai features as a Federation Starbase known as YorkTown, encountered by the crew of the Starship Enterprise on their intergalactic journey. The premiere in July 2016 coincided with the 50th anniversary of the original Star Trek series, making it a big event in the calendar of any sci-fi fan – and showcasing Dubai’s larger-than-life landmarks larger-than-life landmarks to the world.


The film: Syriana (2005)
The location: Dubai’s desert

An all-star cast including George Clooney and Matt Damon star in this tense drama, which intertwines numerous storylines, including a dubious oil company merger, an Arabian royalty visit and an assassination plot. Director Stephen Gaghan decided that Dubai provided a perfect location to shoot many of the desert scenes. The best way to experience Dubai’s dunes? On a desert safari of course!


The film: City of Life (2009)
The location: various locations across Dubai

Emirati director Al F Mustafa presided over City of Life, the first major English-language feature film to be filmed wholly in Dubai. The film, which sees the lives of an Arab man, an Indian taxi driver and a Romanian flight attendant collide, is a perfect portrayal of Dubai's real-life multicultural demographic.


The film: Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol (2011)
The location: Burj Khalifa

Famous for the nail-biting stunt where Tom Cruise's character, Ethan Hunt, hangs off the Burj Khalifa, Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol, the fourth instalment in the franchise, is the biggest-budget blockbuster ever to be filmed in Dubai. The Burj stunt alone took 23 days and required some 400 crew members on hand to ensure that bankable star Cruise, who insisted on doing the stunt himself, was kept safe.


The film: Star Wars Episode VII – The Force Awakens (2015)
The location: Abu Dhabi desert

Tipped to smash the box office record that was set by Jurassic World earlier this year, the new Star Wars film has to be one of the most eagerly awaited in a long time. And while sci-fi fans the world over will be rubbing their hands together in anticipation until the film comes out at the end of the year, UAE-based film fans will be most looking forward to trying to spot some familiar places, as parts of the film were actually shot a short drive from Dubai. As part of an extravagant set, a shuttle-like spacecraft, large tower and life-sized market were all built in the Abu Dhabi desert – to visit yourself, consider a combo desert safari experience from Dubai.


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