There’s no business like show business, as Dubai courts global superstars

Jamal Al Sharif Managing Director of Dubai Studio City Chairman of Dubai Film and TV Commission

As the UAE’s celebrates the Accession Day of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, UAE Vice President and Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, each government entity is tirelessly working hard in turning the visionary leader’s dreams into a reality.

With Dubai positioning itself as a leading hub in entertainment arena with films such as ‘Mission Impossible Ghost Protocol’, ‘Happy New Year’ and ‘Welcome Back’, one man is spearheading this drive forward, keeping in line with Sheikh Mohammed’s plans.

Emirates 24|7 caught up with Jamal Al Sharif, Chairman of the Dubai Film and TV Commission that has proved a game changer in turning these starry dreams into reality.

- In the last few years Dubai has become a game changer as an entertainment hub for Hollywood and Bollywood films that are being filmed here on a regular basis. How has the city's global profile facilitated this growth in the industry?

“Dubai’s global profile has undoubtedly played a part in enticing prestigious Hollywood and Bollywood filmmakers, and we find that they are often attracted by the prospect of featuring our well-known landmarks in their films.

“But this isn’t the only reason for the increased interest in Dubai as a film and TV production location; besides its famously alluring locations, Dubai also offers a deep talent pool, state-of-the-art production facilities, a smooth permit process and customised soft incentives for those choosing to shoot in the Emirate.”

- Does winning the Expo 2020 work as an added advantage?

“Now that the UAE has won the right to host Expo 2020, we hope this interest will continue to grow and expand, as even more people around the world will come to know and realise that Dubai is an attractive, viable, and desirable film and TV production hub.”

- The growth of the entertainment industry runs parallel with the city's tourism growth. Do they actively complement each other?

“Absolutely – the film and TV industry has a high multiplier effect on the tourism sector. Film and TV contribute to Dubai’s GDP at a ratio of 2:1, and so play a vital role in sustaining Dubai’s position as a premier global tourist destination.

“When high-profile films such as ‘Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol’ and ‘Happy New Year’ come to Dubai, the crew members and talent become our ambassadors, conveying their experiences and opinions on shooting in Dubai to other film and TV-makers, their fans, and the public.

“As Dubai continues to attract more productions and projects, we expect to see an increasing number of tourists travelling to the Emirate for ‘film induced tourism’ – when film enthusiasts travel to visit the landscapes, locations and sets that they see on screen.

“Other destinations around the world, have seen a 40 per cent increase in tourism as a result of this burgeoning ‘set-jetting’ trend.”

- What are the advantages offered to filmmakers that decide to shoot their projects here in terms of locations, geography, technical support etc?

“The Dubai Film and TV Commission (DFTC) was created to assist and facilitate for production companies and filmmakers interested in shooting in Dubai.

“Serving as a one-stop shop for producers, DFTC works to streamline the film and TV-making processes and helps to find the most cost-effective way of producing projects.

“As a Dubai Government entity, DFTC works closely with other government entities to offer the support that film and TV-makers demand. As well as such a vital support system, Dubai offers the most advanced state-of-the-art infrastructure in the region – including three impressive sound stages that meet international industry standards, a diverse mix of aesthetically unique locations, and a deep talent pool.”

- How will the landscape change for this industry in the next five years?

“Dubai’s reputation as a leading media production hub will only grow stronger over the next five years. Most notably, the recent technical advancements in Dubai Studio City such as the sound stages will strengthen and transform Dubai’s position from a primarily aesthetic shooting location to an internationally recognised media production hub.

“Moving forward, DFTC will continue to provide support and encourage home-grown talent and content.  Our vision is to see Arabic content and talent grow and prosper- not just on a local level, but internationally too.

- Can you name a few projects that will be filming here in 2014?

“There are a number of projects in the pipeline that we will be announcing once finalised in the coming months.

“The Bollywood movie ‘Welcome Back’ that was shot partly in Dubai in December 2013 is scheduled to return early part of the year 2014 to complete its shoot.”

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