Hollywood and Bollywood stars in UAE tourism videos: John Cena to Shah Rukh Khan

Jennifer Aniston, Nicole Kidman and Zac Efron are also among those who have starred in campaigns for the Emirates

From left, John Cena, Shah Rukh Khan and Gwyneth Paltrow have all starred in UAE tourism campaigns. Photos: Blue Sky Studios, Dubai Tourism

John Cena is the star of a new cinematic campaign for Visit Abu Dhabi.

The popular wrestler and actor stars in the new advertisement, in which he takes a very last-minute detour to the UAE capital after reading about the city in a magazine, while sat in a private jet.

“Let’s go to Abu Dhabi instead,” Cena tells the pilot in the video. “Drop me off!”

“Sir, I have already flown past, I would have to change the flight path,” the stressed captain replies.

Cena takes matters into his own hands and, wearing a parachute and goggles, he opens the jet’s door and jumps out shouting, “Now’s the time, Mike.”

At the end, we’re promised a part two. In the video, we don’t actually see Cena making the most of Abu Dhabi’s attractions, but he does read about Louvre Abu Dhabi, the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, Ferrari World, the desert and corniche in the fictional magazine feature.

Cena is not the first international celebrity to star in a UAE tourism campaign. Here we round up more people who have…

1. Jessica Alba and Zac Efron

Alba and Efron have starred in a series of movie-like Dubai Tourism campaign videos set in the city. The Dubai Presents series includes A Brand New You, in which a future version of Efron time travels to the present to try and better himself, and A Romance to Remember, which riffs off a rom-com meet cute.

The videos see the Hollywood stars venture into the desert, touring around the souqs in Deira, skydiving, enjoying abra trips and dining at Jumeirah Al Qasr hotel. The pieces are all directed by Cruella's Craig Gillespie.

2. Shah Rukh Khan

Bollywood hero Khan's Dubai Tourism campaign launched in 2016. The My Name Is Khan star showcased the best of Dubai through the #BeMyGuest six-video series.

In the final video, the star receives a mysterious box. He follows a set of clues around the emirate, to solve a puzzle. He eventually does, and in the last scene walks around a beach before spotting Hollywood star Gwyneth Paltrow.

He sets the box down in front of her, as she asks “What’s this?” He responds simply: “Be my guest". Then he walks away.

3. Gwyneth Paltrow

Goop founder Paltrow takes on the mantle from Khan in the A Story Takes Flight film and campaign, which also stars Kate Hudson and Zoe Saldana.

The actresses embark on three journeys of exploration through the emirate "filled with inspiration, discovery and human connections", according to Dubai Tourism.

In the film, directed by Emmy winner Reed Morano, Paltrow explore the souqs, tries her hand at watersports and dances in a nightclub. Hudson, meanwhile, is in Old Dubai, by the Creek at sunset and doing karaoke, while Saldana is in the desert with her children, exploring City Walk, checking out the Dubai Frame and motorbiking towards the Burj Khalifa.

4. Nicole Kidman

Australian actress Nicole Kidman, seen here with director Anthony Atanasio, on set filming a campaign for Etihad in 2015. Silvia Razgova / The National

In 2015, Australian actress Kidman was introduced as the new face of Etihad Airways.

She starred in a five-minute film for the brand, titled Reimagine, that gave viewers a look at the airline's Airbus A380 as she tours the aircraft on a flight between New York and Abu Dhabi.

Of the campaign, Kidman said: “The film is a culmination of Etihad’s vision to tell the airline’s story in an extremely innovative way and a commitment to engaging with the public as has never been attempted by an airline before. It was a great challenge but one which has definitely paid off and it was great to be part of such an exciting project.”

5. Jennifer Aniston

Jennifer Aniston prefers to stay in economy class in one of the Emirates advertisements. Photo: Emirates

Friends star Aniston starred in an Emirates campaign in 2015. In the advert, Aniston finds a child in her first-class cabin, then walks through the rest of the plane to find the boy's parents in economy class. In a second campaign, she plays a bewildered US airline passenger, wearing a bathrobe and clutching a loofah and a bag of toiletries, who asks the flight attendants where she can find the shower.

The attendants tell her there is no shower and no bar, and offer hot towels and some nuts. “This isn’t an Emirates plane, ma’am,” they say.

In the next scene, Aniston wakes up in her private suite in an Emirates first-class cabin, and realises the whole episode was a nightmare. The ad’s slogan is: “Wake up to flying as it should be.”

Updated: October 17th 2021, 10:04 AM