Shah Rukh Khan’s Happy New Year brings an estimated $5m to Dubai

Dubai wants to attract more film production from Bollywood – and not just for the dance scenes. The filming of a Shah Rukh Khan movie could mark a $5 million milestone in that effort.

Indian actor Shah Rukh Khan shot his latest film in Dubai for three weeks. Marcus Brandt / AFP
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The shooting of a Shah Rukh Khan film has brought an estimated US$5 million to the UAE, according to the Dubai TV and Film Commission.

Happy New Year, which is to be released next year, took three weeks to shoot and is the first full-length feature to be filmed almost entirely in the Emirates.

The film commission expects more interest from Bollywood now with two more films already confirmed. The commission did not provide details of the additional films.

The commission said that its $5m estimate for Happy New Year will be followed by a more precise figure this month or next. Benefits to the emirate’s economy would have included spending on hotel rooms, flights and equipment and space rentals.

The commission worked with Khan’s production company, Red Chillies Entertainment, for about a year to organise the shoot.

Previously, Bollywood films that had chosen Dubai as a location had shot only one or two scenes in the city.

“This is not just a dance scene, but about 80-90 per cent of the whole film that was shot in Dubai,” said Jamal Al Sharif, the chairman of the film commission. “We had to learn the logistics. Normally we’ve only dealt with a maximum of 40 people who come to do a dance scene in two to five days.”

The Red Chillies team was given many incentives from Dubai International Airport, Emirates Airline and immigration authorities. The entire Happy New Year crew booked 180 rooms at the Atlantis hotel on the Palm for 25 days.

“This will impact culturally on what they’re doing. They’re creating jobs and we’re hoping that further Bollywood films will support [our] GDP. We are expecting the next door to open for Bollywood to be in Dubai and the Middle East,” Mr Al Sharif said.

Rebates and incentives are one of the key areas of focus for the film commission as it works to attract productions to the emirate, not just from Bollywood, but from all over the world.

“We are putting together plans for the years to come to provide soft and hard incentives and rebates. Dubai is a tax-free destination with reliable infrastructure and we have to take advantage of that. For instance, Dubai Studio City is home to three state of the art sound stages, all of which are equipped with world class technology and occupy 75,000 square feet in total. These will benefit the filmmakers,” Mr Al Sharif said.

Speaking last month while in Dubai, Khan praised the emirate as a place to make movies. “Dubai needs to let the world know it has the infrastructure. It is comparable to any place in the world. It is high time a lot of Indian films, not just Bollywood, should be encouraged to come here and this will be a stepping stone to showcase the beauty of Dubai and how wonderful and easy it is to shoot [here],” he said.