Hollywood and Bollywood stars in UAE tourism videos: from Penelope Cruz to Shah Rukh Khan

Jennifer Aniston, Kevin Hart, Jason Mamoa and Nicole Kidman are also among those who have starred in campaigns for the Emirates

Penelope Cruz is the new face of Emirates Airline. Photo: Emirates
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Penelope Cruz has been named the latest ambassador for Emirates Airline.

The Academy Award-winning actress and philanthropist features in the Dubai airline's latest ad campaign, releasing in June.

Airing in English and in Cruz's native Spanish, the campaign shows the actress sampling luxuries exclusive to Emirates' first and business-class passengers, such as the A380 on-board lounge, and the in-flight shower.

“From one hotel room, to another one,” says the Vicky Cristina Barcelona Oscar-winner as she settles into one of Emirates' “game-changing” first-class suites.

The campaign will also show Cruz settling in for a siesta on a lie-flat bed, wearing the Emirates' “hydra-active moisturising pyjamas” that are given to premium travellers.

“I’m thrilled to partner with Emirates after years of travelling with them on some of the most special trips in my life,” said Cruz.

Cruz takes over the reins as Emirates' newest ambassador from Gerry the Goose who also chose to “fly better” by ditching his migratory flock and travelling with the Dubai airline last year. The feathery star was voiced by British actor Michael Cronin doing his best Sir David Attenborough imitation.

She's not the first international celebrity to star in a UAE tourism campaign. Here we round up a few other famous faces 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 to 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 was 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 explores 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

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

Friends star Aniston starred in an Emirates campaign in 2015. In the advert, Aniston finds a child in her first-class cabin, then walking 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.”

6. John Cena

The popular wrestler and actor was the star of an advert for Visit Abu Dhabi in October 2021, 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.”

7. Kevin Hart

Kevin Hart was named as Yas Island’s first chief island officer in 2022, with the US comedian promising to “Hart-ify” the destination's many attractions.

“There goes Yas Island’s first chief island officer in a white Ferrari thinking he’s a big deal,” the star’s voice said, as footage shows him zipping along the streets of Yas in the supercar. “Guess what, this is a big deal.

“The world’s most entertaining island hired me, Kevin Hart, to Hart-ify everything out here. We are going big on K-everything, because going big, that’s my middle name. Actually, it’s Darnell, but whatever.”

The video also shows Hart enjoying several of the destination’s attractions, including Warner Bros World, Yas Waterpark, Ferrari World, Clymb Abu Dhabi and Yas Links golf course.

8. Jason Momoa

In April, Hollywood star Jason Momoa took over the reins from Kevin Hart to become Yas Island's newest chief island officer.

The Aquaman star kicked off his time in the Abu Dhabi destination by paddleboarding towards Yas Island, with the five-star W Abu Dhabi – Yas Island hotel and a setting sun behind him.

Since then, he's been busy enjoying some of the island's attractions, including Yas Waterworld, Warner Bros World Abu Dhabi, Ferrari World and Yas Marina Circuit.

“There comes a time when you discover your calling, when you realise your destiny and you know your whole life has led to this one ridiculously awesome job,” says Momoa in the campaign video. “They made me chief island officer of Yas Island Abu Dhabi so now I’m making sure everyone lives it up like me … Jason Momoa.”

Updated: May 26, 2023, 5:56 PM