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United Arab Emirates

The United Arab Emirates is a federation of seven emirates consisting of Abu Dhabi, Ajman, Dubai, Fujairah, Ras Al Khaimah, Sharjah and Umm Al Quwain. The emirate of Abu Dhabi occupies most of the country. The remaining six emirates are located in the north-east.

United Arab Emirates

Cost & Rebates

The Emirates are one of the more expensive countries in the Middle East. Hotels during peak season can get very expensive. Standard shoot day costs are comparable with South Africa. The Abu Dhabi Film Commission offers a 30% cash-back rebate on productions, including feature films, television dramas (including series), commercials, music videos, other television formats, such as lifestyle, reality, game shows and entertainment programmes, post-production, digital content services and visual effects (PDV) services for projects shot inside or outside Abu Dhabi.

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When To Shoot

Most of the Emirates has a desert climate characterized by extreme heat during the day and an abrupt drop in temperature at night. Summers from June to August are humid and have very high temperatures. Thunderstorms and dust storms can strike suddenly and impact visibility. October to March has milder conditions and is the best time to shoot for weather.

Visa Information

Crews travelling on most Western passports can enter the Emirates visa-free or obtain visas on arrival. There is no need for work permits.

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Cast, Crew & Equipment

The Emirates has a good pool of local and expat directors, directors of photography and stills photographers. Many experienced foreign crew have relocated to Dubai so there is a good depth of impressive locally based crews. Both key and supporting crews speak fluent English and work to an international standard. Crews are non-union.
Talent is non-union and buyouts are negotiable. Talent costs are by western standards quite competitive. Given the many nationalities attracted to live and work in the Emirates, the country offers a very good variety of locally based multicultural talent. Arri, Panavision, and RED equipment is available locally. All standard camera, grip and lighting equipment is available including more specialised equipment such as Russian Arm, Technocrane, and gyro heads. The Emirates is an ATA carnet country if you’re looking at bringing in your own gear. Drone equipment can only be rented from a local supplier that is registered with the General Civil Aviation Authority. It is not possible to bring in your own drone equipment.

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