It is safe to say that not all breathtaking shots in movies are the result of CGI. Filmmakers leave no stone unturned when it comes to choosing gorgeous locations with regal castles, alluring mountainous ranges and breathtaking beaches. The Indian film industry or Bollywood as it’s fondly called, regularly use the gorgeous cityscapes of Switzerland, London, Paris, and the Netherlands for outdoor shoots, while Hollywood has a preference for the lush valleys of Ireland and New Zealand and vibrant cities such as Barcelona and Naples. However, the one city which now holds a special place with a lot of A-list filmmakers from across the world, is our very own city of superlatives, Dubai. Whether it’s Vin Diesel jumping from building to building in a sports car or Tom Cruise gliding down the tallest building in the world – Dubai is the perfect place to bring fantasy to life. If you are wondering about the popular films where the city has had a starring role, here are some of the biggest movies shot in Dubai.
Hollywood Movies Shot in Dubai
A perfect location for filming glitzy, glamorous cityscapes, and beautiful stretches of golden deserts, Hollywood is developing a fascination for Dubai, where over 50 movies have been shot so far. If you are curious to know which of your favourite spots in the city have had their moment of fame, here is a list of popular Hollywood movies filmed in Dubai!
Mission Impossible – Ghost Protocol (2011)
Any mention of movies filmed in Dubai is incomplete without including this action-packed edition of the Mission Impossible series! In one of the most memorable scenes from the movie, Cruise in his reprisal of the iconic Ethan Hunt character calmly glides down the 163-story Burj Khalifa, located in the heart of Downtown Dubai, a flagship mega-development by Emaar Properties. The daredevil actor performed what become popularly known as the ‘Mission Impossible Dubai’ stunt himself, from a height of about 1,700 feet! The movie also has a few shots from other popular locations in Dubai including Palm Jumeirah, the Armani Hotel and Zabeel Saray.
Furious 7 (2015)
Having Furious 7 on this list is may seem debatable because it was partly shot in Abu Dhabi. However, this smash box-office hit deserved to be here because it showcases some of the most spectacular architecture of the country. The seventh instalment of The Fast and the Furious franchise is remembered for more than one reason. The tragic death of the original cast member Paul Walker halted the filming, but the movie still managed to produce some of the most iconic action sequences ever.
The almost-impossible jump Dom (Vin Diesel) made between the Etihad Towers with Paul Walker shouting ‘cars don’t fly’ made for an epic action scene that is easily one of the most unforgettable moments from the franchise. The other adrenaline-pumping scenes with super sports cars were filmed in Emirates Palace Hotel, Liwa Desert and Yas Island which is incidentally also the home to the world-renowned Yas Marina Circuit which has been hosting the Formula One Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix since 2009.
Star Trek – Beyond (2016)
Do you think Dubai’s amazing skyscrapers lend the city a futuristic air? Star Trek producer Jeffery Chernov certainly appears to think so! While we are yet to get to The Jetsons level of futuristic living, Dubai is certainly well on its way to becoming one of the most innovative cities in the world. The movie which saw the Star Trek franchise make a return to the silver screen with Chris Pine in the captain’s seat, had significant portions filmed in Dubai, to depict one of the swanky bases of the Enterprise, Yorktown.
The scene uses a blend of Dubai’s landscape and CGI to create the perfect futuristic city that might not be far from reality in the near future, considering the way Dubai is progressing. Regarded by actor Chris Pine as the ‘future land’, most of the film was shot in areas like Meydan Racetrack, JLT, Downtown Dubai and Burj Al Arab. Sheikh Zayed Road was also included in some shots because this artery features some of the most stunning skyscrapers in the city. The total cost for the scenes shot in Dubai is estimated to be a whopping $32 million!
This high profile box-office smasher stars A-list actors Matt Damon and George Clooney in an Oscar-winning geopolitical thriller based on petroleum politics and its influences on different aspects and people. Large portions of this film were shot in Dubai with some of the action sequences perfectly capturing the stark beauty of the dry terrains and the golden deserts of the city.
Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps (2010)
Warren Buffet once said, ‘Wall Street is the only place that people ride to in a Rolls Royce to get advice from those who take the subway.’
A story about money, ambition and greed; Wall Street is all about the luxury and allure of high-stakes investments; and when there is a mention of luxury, how can we forget Dubai? The city had the honour of being the location for the luxury sequences of the much-awaited sequel of the iconic Michael Douglas starrer.
Other Hollywood movies shot in UAE:
- The Wedding Party 2
- Kung Fu Yoga
- Sand City
Bollywood Movies Shot in Dubai:
Dubai is a hot favourite with most filmmakers in India, thanks to its proximity to the sub-continent and array of exciting attractions, beautiful buildings and stunning deserts. The list of Bollywood movies filmed in Dubai and the rest of the UAE includes many box-office hits featuring superstars like Salman Khan and Shahrukh Khan.
Happy New Year (2014)
One of the most popular Bollywood movies filmed in Dubai is this action-comedy entertainer with an all-star cast lead by Shah Rukh Khan. Dubai was not just the main location for the shoot of this movie, it served as a pivotal plot point in the film’s narrative. The movie is about an odd group of people who come together to help the protagonist (Shah Rukh Khan) avenge his father’s death. Most of the film features the backdrop of Dubai as the group travels to the city to participate in a dance competition. The director of the movie, Farah Khan, says she even conceptualised the movie and wrote her script keeping the city’s landscape in mind. Most of the shooting took place at Atlantis, The Palm and The Dubai Mall to capture the larger-than-life experience the city has to offer. The movie’s title also references the amazing celebrations Dubai organises for New Year.
Welcome (2007) and Welcome Back (2015)
Both the original, as well as the sequel, were shot in Dubai. The films boast a star-studded cast with Anil Kapoor and Nana Patekar taking on lead roles in both the editions as feared dons. The plot is centred around the duo’s hilarious attempts to get their sister married to a respectable man who does not have ties to the nefarious underworld that they operate in. The locations in Dubai perfectly capture the luxurious lifestyle portrayed in the movie involving lavish yacht parties and spectacular hotels.
In the original, one of the popular scenes where Nana Patekar’s character throws a party was actually shot in the iconic Grand Hyatt Hotel. In the sequel, we get to see even more of the beautiful city, with the climax sequence shot in Al Ain, a gorgeous natural oasis with stunning sand dunes in the background.
The two beloved stars of Bollywood, Salman Khan and Govinda shared screen space after a huge gap, in this romantic comedy which also featured Katrina Kaif in the role of a wealthy businesswoman. We get to enjoy some of the spectacular sights of Dubai in the beautifully choreographed the songs of the movie, which were as popular as, if not more than the movie itself. The corporate offices that are shown in the movie were shot in Chelsea Towers, Dubai.
Now known as Al Salam Tower and it is the 17th tallest building in Dubai and one of the tallest residential buildings in the entire world. We can also get glimpses of the famous Emirates Palace Hotel and Dubai Media City where some of the popular songs from the movie including ‘You’re my love, Janeja you’re my love’ and ‘Maria Maria’ were shot.
HUMARI ADHURI KAHANI (2015)
A tragic tale of unrequited love, the film has several hauntingly beautiful sequences filmed in Dubai, including a shot of the main lead, Emraan Hashmi, standing in the middle of a gorgeous field of flowers in the record-breaking Dubai Miracle Garden. DMG is not only the largest natural garden in the world but also houses over 50 million different varieties of flowers. Other areas for filming included the stunning Dubai Creek and busy markets in Meena Bazar.
This was the start of famous Indian actor Salman Khan’s trailblazing career of record-breaking movies, all of which raked in over $10 M! One of the song sequences, shot in the desert shows the lead pair enjoying some high-octane dune bashing in the desert. A picture of the couple standing in the desert taking a selfie with a falcon on Salman’s hand, donning traditional headgear, was reason enough to entice tourists from India to pop over to Dubai for a visit and post Insta shots inspired by the famous sequence. The Burjuman Metro station and some parts of Emirates Palace Hotels were also used as filming locations.
Other Bollywood Movies Shot in UAE
- Once Upon a Time in Mumbai Dobaara
- Sarkar 3
Dubai is the epitome of luxury, with an array of high-end hotels, sparkling cityscapes and opulent landmarks. When you couple this with the untouched magnificence of the deserts in Dubai, it’s easy to see why the city is becoming a popular choice for filmmakers from across the world. With more and more attractive developments such as Bluewaters Island, La Mer, Dubai Parks and Resorts and more coming up around the city, the appeal will only grow!