Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 28 October 2020

10 music videos filmed in the UAE: from Cardi B to Imagine Dragons

For years, the UAE's various landscapes and locations have provided artists with what they visually need

Artists who shot their music videos in the UAE include: Dan Reynolds of Imagine Dragons, Cardi B, Freek and Rita Ora. Getty Images, AFP, Courtesy: Freek, Reuters
Artists who shot their music videos in the UAE include: Dan Reynolds of Imagine Dragons, Cardi B, Freek and Rita Ora. Getty Images, AFP, Courtesy: Freek, Reuters

Dubai is a popular destination for musicians, not only to holiday in but also as a place to shoot a music video.

From the sandy vistas, futuristic skylines and vast desert, the UAE has been favoured by pop stars, rockers and rappers as the ideal setting to visually channel the energy of their tracks.

From K-pop boy band Super M to rapper Flo Rida, here are 10 musicians who have shot videos in the country.

1. 'Jopping' by Super M (2019)

The so-called Avengers of K-Pop were the last major international music act to release a video shot in the UAE. Since Jopping was Super M's first official visual release, the group made a flamboyant statement with a glitzy film captured in Dubai in the summer of 2019.

The video featured the seven-piece Korean band riding motorbikes around Happiness Street in Business Bay and Al Khail Road, cruising down Meydan Bridge, and performing on a stretch of highway in the desert.

One of the members, Taemin, makes use of the latter landscape by dancing and rapping his verse with the Dubai skyline in the background.

2. 'New Look' by Rita Ora (2019)

To match the electronic pulse of her single New Look, Ora and crew came to Dubai and captured the emirate at its most futuristic.

She and her dancers performed some slick choreography at the Meydan Bridge and in Al Seef, while there were also shots showing her cruising down Bur Dubai.

This is in addition to grand shots of Sheikh Zayed Road and a majestic Burj Khalifa. Speaking to The National a few months after the video was released in 2019, Ora complimented Dubai as the ideal setting.

“I love the people, the scene and the location was perfect,” she said. “I just loved the girls in the jumpsuits with the headscarfs. I thought that was really cool and I’ve never seen that before, so that was really special.”

3. 'Bodak Yellow' by Cardi B

Bowdak Yellow by Cardi B. YouTube.
Bowdak Yellow by Cardi B. YouTube.

This is one of the most-watched music videos that was shot in the UAE, as the accompanying visuals to Cardi B's classic hip-hop single reached more than 800 million views on YouTube.

From the opening shot of a misty Dubai skyline, the city plays a central role throughout the video. Cardi B uses the emirate's diverse landscape as metaphor for her various personalities.

Scenes shot in the desert capture her in an elegant light, with classy, traditional attire, while the hectic shots in urban areas, featuring sports cars, a sparkling white villa and even a tiger, show she is very comfortable living the high life.

4. 'Thunder' by Imagine Dragons

It is good to see the rockers also getting into the UAE's scenic possibilities. To match the drama of their track Thunder, the American rock band Imagine Dragons shot a black-and-white music video that heavily showcased Dubai Design District.

However, some of the best shots in the video are the aerial images of Sheikh Zayed Road and Old Dubai. The emirate never looked so breath-taking from up high.

5. 'Wala Kilma' by Freek (2019)

Freek's music video shows that the UAE has more to offer artists than just skyscrapers and the desert.

Somali rapper Freek's debut video became a regional hit that saw it reach more than one million views.

With arid vistas and scenes shot in a quirky tourist hot-spot that featured an abandoned Soviet-era aircraft, the video also proved to be a great showcase of Umm Al Quwain.

6. 'Cookin' by Fat Joe

Cookin' by Fat Joe. YouTube.
Cookin' by Fat Joe. YouTube.

If you were in the Dubai desert on a sweltering August afternoon in 2016 and saw a bunch of rappers wearing tracksuits, and walking beside a tiger, you would be forgiven for thinking it was a mirage. The surreal scene, however, was part of Fat Joe’s music video for his single Cookin’.

There are also plenty of shots of the UAE national flag, majestic sand dunes and Fat Joe cruising in a yellow Lamborghini down Sheikh Zayed Road.

Despite all the fun, however, the rapper admits sweating buckets during that shoot. “It was like sitting ­inside a brick oven,” he told The National.

“People thought I was crazy when I said 'we will shoot a video in Dubai, in the desert and in the summer' – they told me ‘yeah, good luck’.”

7. 'Shine Your Light' by Jay Wud (2017)

For such a powerful track, Jay Wud knew he needed an equally commanding site to shoot the video at, so he and his band went up to the helipad in Al Thuraya Tower on the Sharjah border to rock out.

With a global audience in mind, Wud wanted the black-and-white video to be slick and gritty enough to capture an international rock audience. “Because this will be played everywhere, we wanted to show that we are from Dubai,” Wud told The National.

“That’s why we picked the helipad. You can see the Burj Khalifa and there is a whole urban vibe to it.”

8. 'So Much' by Wiz Khalifa (2016)

So Much by Wiz Khalifa. YouTube.
So Much by Wiz Khalifa. YouTube.

This is not so much a video but more of a lavish account of Wiz Khalifa's Dubai vacation. Over the buoyant beats, he ticks off the tourist bucket list boxes: quad biking in the desert, chilling poolside, hitting the nightclubs and feeding the odd tiger and giraffe.

9. 'One Night in Dubai' by Arash, featuring Helena (2019)

More like one night in the Burj Al Arab. For a bilingual track (Farsi and English) that talks about having an amazing time in the city, it feels weird that we rarely see the star attraction in the video.

Instead, what we get is Swedish-Iranian singer Arash and Swedish pop singer Helena just wandering around the hotel's luxe interiors, and hanging out on the helipad.

10. 'Zillionaire' by Flo Rida

Zillionaire by Flo Rida. YouTube.
Zillionaire by Flo Rida. YouTube.

There was a period three years ago where Flo Rida was in the UAE so much you would have thought he had an Emirates ID card.

At least he has made good use of his time, with this video showcasing the best of Dubai luxury and glamour.

Promising to take his date on the best holiday ever, they race supercars, chill at the Burj Al Arab hotel, as well as hang out on a yacht and go shopping.

All that stuff requires energy, of course, hence Flo Rida’s decision to work out in the gym beforehand in his Versace shirt.

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Updated: July 3, 2020 11:38 AM

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