Sorry Homeland, you’re not fooling anyone with your visit to fake Abu Dhabi

Mandy Patinkin as Saul Berenson takes a stroll through an 'Abu Dhabi market' in this screengrab from Homeland.
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American TV spy drama Homeland paid a visit to Abu Dhabi in its latest episode – sort of.

In keeping with the show’s habit of using stand-ins for its Middle Eastern locations (Beirut scenes in seasons gone by were filmed in Israel, for example), the crew did not actually come to the UAE to film the scenes, which appear in the third episode of season six (broadcast in the United States on January 29).

Morocco was the actual filming location, standing in for both Abu Dhabi and The West Bank in the same episode.

So how did the North African substitute look compared with the real Abu Dhabi?

The first thing we see of it is when is CIA bureau chief Saul Bernson (Mandy Patinkin) is being driven in a taxi through the streets. The silver taxi looks authentic enough – the scenes of the driver hurtling through narrow old streets less so.

Saul then jumps out of the cab into one of those ubiquitous “crowded Middle Eastern market street scenes” so beloved of Hollywood filmmakers depicting the region. The Corniche it definitely is not. In addition, there is not a building taller than about three stories to be seen.

Most of the rest of the “Abu Dhabi” action takes place indoors as Saul interrogates Iranian suspected arms dealer Farhad Nafisi (Bernard White), who the CIA believe is a middle man for moving Russian weapons into North Korea.

These interior scenes – a small dark room complete with a portable “my first spy interrogation kit” could be anywhere, though the window blind letting slivers of light into the room as Saul goes about his job does at least provide a generic Arab ambience.

The interrogation over, Saul’s brief Abu Dhabi trip is over, and he decides while in the region to visit the West Bank. Or rather, he heads off to a neighbouring street in Morocco.

Overall, the Abu Dhabi scenes will probably not jar with viewers who have never been to Abu Dhabi but those who live there would not be fooled for a minute.

Previous episodes of season 6 of Homeland are available on OSN On Demand now. For broadcast details on OSN First DH, visit www.OSN.com

cnewbould@thenational.ae