Go on, admit it: when the first aerial shot of the Emirates Palace Hotel flashed on our screens in The Kingdom, most of us sat back with a sense of pride. The UAE had finally arrived on Hollywood’s radar.
But while we fussed over celebrities like Jamie Foxx, and earlier George Clooney who was in Dubai for Syrianna, we have overlooked the importance of Indian movies that have been filming in the UAE for the past five years.
It seems every fifth Bollywood film featured a scene from the Burj Al Arab or showcases the glistening sands of the Hatta desert, and UAE audiences don’t bat an eyelid anymore when Dubai Internet City suddenly shows up in a song sequence.
Earlier this year, Dubai Studio City even chalked up a profit, while facilitating Indian films Naqaab and Partner that were shot in the city. Of course, fans weren’t disappointed to see a shirtless Salman Khan and a coy Katrina Kaif prancing about on Umm Suqeim Beach.
Another Bollywood film that hijacked Al Ain’s Jebel Hafeet mountain in 2007 was Race, starring Indian actors Saif Ali Khan, Bipasha Basu and Anil Kapoor.
Bollywood, which churns out more than 800 movies annually, notched up a whopping $1.6 billion (Dh5.8bn) in revenue last year.
So, if Dubai – or the UAE – manages to retain the small slice of the
Bollywood pie on its plate, it can look forward to continued returns from this potential goldmine in terms of film production costs.