Emirati filmmaker Ali Mostafa on the set of his film, From A to B, at the Corniche in Abu Dhabi. Silvia Razgova / The National
Emirati filmmaker Ali Mostafa on the set of his film, From A to B, at the Corniche in Abu Dhabi. Silvia Razgova / The National

Offering a film location is just the first step



What do Bang Bang, The Bourne Legacy, Fast and Furious 7 and Star Wars: Episode VII have in common? They all contain scenes shot in Abu Dhabi. With crews from Hollywood, Bollywood and the regional film industry flocking to the emirate, it is moving steadily towards its goal of becoming a global hub for filmmaking.

As The National reported yesterday, the city is the only one in the Middle East to make it onto a list of top international locations for film production in the latest issue of online magazine P3 Update. A major film and entertainment website, The Hollywood Reporter, also pointed out that Abu Dhabi is "poised to become Hollywood's go-to locale" in the region.

P3 Update said the vibrant locations, modern architecture, Arab heritage and year-round sunny weather make it “like no place on Earth”. The weather allows film crews plenty of natural light and helps keep them on schedule with few rain-induced delays. The mild winter allows for production when some European and North American locations are grey and wet. All this is further enhanced by Abu Dhabi’s mix of political stability, social tolerance and a well-deserved reputation for hospitality.

Then there’s the financial factor: the UAE offers incentives that few other locations can match. The Abu Dhabi Film Commission provides a 30 per cent rebate on feature films, television shows, commercials and music videos, a figure that also applies to airfares with Etihad and accommodation. The emirate is also investing in developing local talent to produce highly-skilled film professionals, meaning crews can be hired locally.

These advantages should not go unnoticed by the industry heavy­weights attending the Abu Dhabi Film Festival, which is taking place until Saturday. Meanwhile, the local decision-makers should be looking at other ways of keeping the momentum going with the view to building up a local film industry. Possibilities for financially supporting such an industry include creating a fund-raising infrastructure through a new investment product, or even a small fee collected at cinemas. Just Dh1 added to the ticket price for a Hollywood or Bollywood blockbuster could create millions so homegrown filmmakers can tell our own stories.

MATCH INFO

Uefa Champions League semi-finals, first leg
Liverpool v Roma

When: April 24, 10.45pm kick-off (UAE)
Where: Anfield, Liverpool
Live: BeIN Sports HD
Second leg: May 2, Stadio Olimpico, Rome

if you go

The flights

Air Astana flies direct from Dubai to Almaty from Dh2,440 per person return, and to Astana (via Almaty) from Dh2,930 return, both including taxes.

The hotels

Rooms at the Ritz-Carlton Almaty cost from Dh1,944 per night including taxes; and in Astana the new Ritz-Carlton Astana (www.marriott) costs from Dh1,325; alternatively, the new St Regis Astana costs from Dh1,458 per night including taxes.

When to visit

March-May and September-November

Visas

Citizens of many countries, including the UAE do not need a visa to enter Kazakhstan for up to 30 days. Contact the nearest Kazakhstan embassy or consulate.

EMIRATES'S REVISED A350 DEPLOYMENT SCHEDULE

Edinburgh: November 4 (unchanged)

Bahrain: November 15 (from September 15); second daily service from January 1

Kuwait: November 15 (from September 16)

Mumbai: January 1 (from October 27)

Ahmedabad: January 1 (from October 27)

Colombo: January 2 (from January 1)

Muscat: March 1 (from December 1)

Lyon: March 1 (from December 1)

Bologna: March 1 (from December 1)

Source: Emirates

COMPANY PROFILE

Name: SmartCrowd
Started: 2018
Founder: Siddiq Farid and Musfique Ahmed
Based: Dubai
Sector: FinTech / PropTech
Initial investment: $650,000
Current number of staff: 35
Investment stage: Series A
Investors: Various institutional investors and notable angel investors (500 MENA, Shurooq, Mada, Seedstar, Tricap)

Company Profile

Company name: Hoopla
Date started: March 2023
Founder: Jacqueline Perrottet
Based: Dubai
Number of staff: 10
Investment stage: Pre-seed
Investment required: $500,000

COMPANY PROFILE

Company name: Almouneer
Started: 2017
Founders: Dr Noha Khater and Rania Kadry
Based: Egypt
Number of staff: 120
Investment: Bootstrapped, with support from Insead and Egyptian government, seed round of
$3.6 million led by Global Ventures

'Worse than a prison sentence'

Marie Byrne, a counsellor who volunteers at the UAE government's mental health crisis helpline, said the ordeal the crew had been through would take time to overcome.

“It was worse than a prison sentence, where at least someone can deal with a set amount of time incarcerated," she said.

“They were living in perpetual mystery as to how their futures would pan out, and what that would be.

“Because of coronavirus, the world is very different now to the one they left, that will also have an impact.

“It will not fully register until they are on dry land. Some have not seen their young children grow up while others will have to rebuild relationships.

“It will be a challenge mentally, and to find other work to support their families as they have been out of circulation for so long. Hopefully they will get the care they need when they get home.”

MATCH INFO

CAF Champions League semi-finals first-leg fixtures

Tuesday:

Primeiro Agosto (ANG) v Esperance (TUN) (8pm UAE)
Al Ahly (EGY) v Entente Setif (ALG) (11PM)

Second legs:

October 23

Kill

Director: Nikhil Nagesh Bhat

Starring: Lakshya, Tanya Maniktala, Ashish Vidyarthi, Harsh Chhaya, Raghav Juyal

Rating: 4.5/5

Company profile

Company name: Fasset
Started: 2019
Founders: Mohammad Raafi Hossain, Daniel Ahmed
Based: Dubai
Sector: FinTech
Initial investment: $2.45 million
Current number of staff: 86
Investment stage: Pre-series B
Investors: Investcorp, Liberty City Ventures, Fatima Gobi Ventures, Primal Capital, Wealthwell Ventures, FHS Capital, VN2 Capital, local family offices

COMPANY PROFILE

Name: Xpanceo

Started: 2018

Founders: Roman Axelrod, Valentyn Volkov

Based: Dubai, UAE

Industry: Smart contact lenses, augmented/virtual reality

Funding: $40 million

Investor: Opportunity Venture (Asia)

GOLF’S RAHMBO

- 5 wins in 22 months as pro
- Three wins in past 10 starts
- 45 pro starts worldwide: 5 wins, 17 top 5s
- Ranked 551th in world on debut, now No 4 (was No 2 earlier this year)
- 5th player in last 30 years to win 3 European Tour and 2 PGA Tour titles before age 24 (Woods, Garcia, McIlroy, Spieth)