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Message from Chairman
On Set in Dubai
In the Limelight
Highlights from 2013
Spotlight on Locations
A Growing Footprint
Message from Chairman
Welcome to the latest newsletter from Dubai Film and TV Commission (DFTC).

The winter season was a busy time for filmmakers in Dubai, and it has been a busy time for the Commission too. We have been delighted to see many new faces as well as some old friends back in Dubai to film their latest productions. In this newsletter, you’ll see that Dubai has hosted the likes of major Bollywood film productions such as Happy New Year and Welcome Back, as well as the exciting new MasterChef Arabia TV series, which aired between March and April 2014.

In 2014, we're focusing on introducing new services that will streamline and simplify the production process in Dubai, helping local, regional and international, film and TV professionals to finish projects on time and within budget.

Many of you will by now have received a copy of our white paper - Opportunities and Challenges in the Middle East and North Africa Media Production Market - which we launched during the Dubai International Film Festival (DIFF) in December 2013. The paper already received wide acclaim, and we welcome any feedback and open discussions on the topics it has raised. The full white paper can be read here.

While DFTC continues to attract the best film and television talent from around the world, we are also committed to bringing experts from across the world to nurture the growth of the media industry in Dubai. The first of such sessions was conducted by Philip Alberstat who spoke to Dubai film, TV, and media professionals at a two-day 2014 Film, Television and Branded Content workshop.

As we head into the international film festival season, we look forward to having the opportunity to speak with many of you and discuss opportunities for future projects.

Jamal Al Sharif
Highlights from the last six months
Dubai Film and TV Commission launches white paper

DFTC was pleased to share the findings of its first white paper during Dubai International Film Festival (DIFF) in December, in partnership with Oliver Wyman.

The white paper, entitled Opportunities and Challenges in the Middle East and North Africa Media Production Market, examines key areas for growth and investment in the MENA media production market, with recommendations for how countries in the region can build world-class media ecosystems. The findings will help inform us in our strategic approach to developing a robust media industry in Dubai.

The full report can be read here.

DFTC at DIFF 2013

A year on from our launch at DIFF 2012, DFTC hosted a Filming in Dubai panel discussion at DIFF 2013, focusing on the filmmaking process in Dubai.

Jamal Al Sharif was joined by top professionals from the film industry, including renowned Emirati filmmaker Nayla Al Khaja; Philip Alberstat, legal advisor for Mission: Impossible Ghost Protocol; Dubai-based producer Ammar Al Khrisat; and Julien Khabbaz, Head of Investment Banking at FFA Private Bank, to discuss filmmaking opportunities in the Emirate, the support they receive from the Dubai Film and TV Commission, and ways to improve opportunities for local content production, particularly in Arabic.

DFTC launches new domain name for its website

The Dubai Film and TV Commission has a new address on the internet. Launched in February 2014, the new website, is a comprehensive resource for information on filming in the emirate. With the launch of the new website domain name, all DFTC email addresses have changed to

2014 Film, Television and Branded Content Workshop conducted by film expert Philip Alberstat

As part of its drive to develop the local media production industry, Dubai Film and TV Commission (DFTC) hosted a workshop with renowned film finance and branded content expert, Philip Alberstat, for Dubai film, TV, and media professionals. The 2014 Film, Television and Branded Content workshop, which took place over two consecutive days in Dubai Studio City, used real life case studies to provide participants with the tools and information on the business models underlying media content production with the aim of helping them bring their projects to life.

Change in aerial permit process

As of 1st March 2014, the Dubai Film and TV Commission (DFTC) is accepting aerial permits on behalf of the Ministry of Defence (MoD) and liaising with them directly to process and issue the permit.

With this new advancement, production companies will no longer need to physically visit MoD’s offices to submit/collect the documents for aerial permits, as DFTC will accept the applications on behalf of MoD and liaise with them directly to process the approval.

For any clarifications or enquiries, please contact us on +971 (04) 360 2022 or email

DFTC joins Association of Film Commissioners International

In February 2014, the Dubai Film and TV Commission has become a member of the Association of Film Commissioners International (AFCI).

By way of membership, the DFTC now has unparalleled access to the global production community. When production industry decision makers are looking for a location, the AFCI is their first stop. They want to rely on a local film commissioner who truly understands their needs and can make filming in the region a success. Through this membership, we are committed to helping producers looking to film in Dubai.

Dubai is home to the region’s first crowdfunding initiative

DFTC is pleased to support the region's first crowdfunding platform. “It’s an opportunity for everyone to get involved and support ideas they love”, says Vida Rizq, founder of AFLAMNAH. When Aflamnah launched, the concept of crowdfunding was novel but in a short space of time, awareness of what crowdfunding is and how it works has certainly developed quickly. The concept is really about pitching an idea online through words, pictures and a video and collecting small amounts of money from lots of people to raise the funds you need to make the dream a reality. The idea is social media fuels the campaign, spreads the word and taps into individuals or groups who would be interested in supporting your idea either by spreading the word or pitching in with a few dollars.

"For people with ideas, whether it’s a film, an app, a website, a novel, a photography exhibition or a music album, it’s a great way to invite interested members of the community to be part of the project, the journey, the ups and downs and the end product. There are several models of crowdfunding: some allow you to keep any money raised, others do not and you can also credit your investors. Aflamnah lets you keep any money raised towards your goal and is the only regional platform to offer this option."

For more information, please visit

Dubai launches Film Dubai Production Guide – 2014

Dubai Film and TV Commission (DFTC) has released the first 'Film Dubai Production Guide' - a comprehensive resource listing information about locations, talent and advice on filming and producing in Dubai. DFTC has launched the guide at Cannes Film Festival, one of the most prestigious events on the film calendar, where it is participating with other UAE film industry entities to showcase what the UAE has to offer international filmmakers.

To obtain a copy of the guide, please visit
On Set in Dubai

Happy New Year

The film: Bollywood blockbuster with an all-star cast. Due to hit the screens in 2014

The team: Red Chillies Entertainment

The stars: Shahrukh Khan, Deepika Padukone, Abhishek Bachchan

Featured Dubai locations: Atlantis, The Palm; Dubai Mall; Dubai Airport

Number of shooting days in Dubai: 30

Dubai supporting partners: Dubai Film and TV Commission, Dubai Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing; Emirates Airlines; Atlantis, The Palm


Welcome Back

The show: Sequel to Bollywood smash hit Welcome

The producers: Base Industries

The stars: Anil Kapoor, John Abraham , Shruti Hassan and Nana Patekar

Featured Dubai locations: Atlantis, The Palm; Jumeirah Zabeel Saray; The Meydan hotel; Al Barsha villas, Sheikh Zayed Road, Mamzar Beach Park, Margham Desert

Number of shooting days in Dubai: 65

Dubai supporting partners: Jumeirah Group, Sofitel Palm Jumeirah, Grand Hyatt, Waldorf Astoria Palm Jumeirah

MasterChef Arabia

The show: First Arabic language series of the internationally renowned TV cooking competition - MasterChef

The producers: Creative Edge, The Factory Production

The stars:
MasterChef Arabia judges – Hafedh Kohaji, Yasser Jad, and Badr Fayez.

Celebrity judges included Amina Al Shafei, Marcello Zakaria, Manal El Alam, Shumeishah El Shafii, Jean-Pierre Jacob, Greg Maalouf, Joe Barza

Featured Dubai locations: Skydive Dubai, Burj Al Arab, Madinat Jumeirah, Greenfield Community School, Dubai Racing Club, Atlantis, SkiDubai

Number of shooting days in Dubai: 56

Dubai supporting partners: Dubai Film and TV Commission, Jumeirah Group, Dubai Studio City

The Bold and the Beautiful

The show: One of the most popular international TV soaps

The producers: Bell-Phillip Television Productions

The stars: Katherine Kelly Lang, Thorsten Kaye, Don Diamont

Featured Dubai locations: Madinat Jumeriah, Atlantis, Skydive Dubai

Number of shooting days in Dubai: 2

Dubai supporting partners: Jumeirah Group, Atlantis, Skydive Dubai
In the Limelight
Amina Al Shafei, celebrity judge on MasterChef Arabia and former MasterChef Australia contestant, was recently in Dubai filming scenes for MasterChef Arabia. Here she tells us about her filming experience in Dubai and what it was like to be involved in MasterChef Arabia;

What are you in Dubai for?
I was invited to be a celebrity judge for the new series of MasterChef Arabia and jumped at the chance. It was definitely a bonus that the show was taking place in Dubai, too! This opportunity was offered to me as I was a contestant on MasterChef Australia in 2012 and got through to the final 12 in the competition.

How has your experience shooting in Dubai been?
I’ve really enjoyed my experience shooting here as I felt the processes were very well structured and everything ran very smoothly. What’s more, the cast and crew were absolutely lovely and very supportive; everybody really clicked with each other, creating a great atmosphere and environment to work in. The whole experience has also enabled me to see a totally different side to the city which was particularly interesting, as I did not feel like a tourist on this visit. I got a taste of what it would be like to work and shoot here and saw more of a cosmopolitan side to Dubai.

You’ve been a contestant on MasterChef Australia; what does it feel like to be a guest judge on MasterChef Arabia now?
Both shows actually have a lot of commonalities in terms of the way things are shot and it definitely brought back great memories from the previous show for me, whilst also showing the reverse side of the competition in being one of the judges. This new role was very enjoyable for me but it was strange to have to be the one to criticize the contestants! I obviously empathized with each and every one of them. However, it consequently made me realise that the judges really do have their best interests at heart as they strive to make each individual the best chef they can possibly be.

What do you think of Dubai’s filming infrastructure?
The infrastructure of the city has developed a great deal over recent years and it is extremely impressive what Dubai has accomplished in such a short space of time. The structure as a whole worked very well. I must also say that the actual set up of the kitchen for the shoot was amazing; I wanted to fold it up and take home with me!

What do you think of the food scene in Dubai?
I feel that the food offerings here are very accessible – it is very easy to get hold of a huge array of ingredients, especially those that are exotic, which is a great reflection of how diverse and eclectic the cultural mix is in Dubai. It is also an added value that the food is affordable.

Would you return to Dubai? And what for?
Absolutely, for both work and pleasure! I have already visited Dubai a few times on holiday and love it here. Dubai is booming and more cosmopolitan than ever, offering everything you could possibly want or need in a destination. It is also a perfect location, being ideally positioned in between Australia and Europe and has always been part of any trip for me.
Spotlight on Locations
Dubai Studio City Soundstages
Located in Dubai Studio City, Dubai’s soundstages have been created to meet the increasingly sophisticated needs of the high growth media and entertainment industry and are the most advanced in the Middle East.

Encompassing more than 65,000 sq.ft (6,038.7 sq.m) of stage area, the complex provides the perfect operating environment for all forms of media production. In all, Dubai Studio City’s infrastructure facilities span 1 million sq.ft of constructed space on land area of 22 million sq.ft, including an office park, boutique studios for TV production, and a soundstage complex with workshops, warehouses and a backlot.

Three soundstages are available:
  • Soundstage 1 – 15,000 sq.ft (1,393.5 sq.m) stage with attached 15,000 sq.ft (1,393.5 sq.m) of office area for make-up, dressing rooms and production support services.

  • Soundstages 2 & 3 – each 25,000 sq.ft (2,322.5 sq.m), they are joined by a 30-meter-wide elephant door that allows for the stages to be used as a 50,000 sq.ft (4,645 sq.m) space. Each stage also has a water tank for underwater shoots and attached production office space of 25,000 sq.ft (2,322.5 sq.m) each.

Water Tanks

Soundstages 2 and 3 each houses an indoor water tank for underwater shoots. Our impressive water tanks are built to international industry standards and are suitable for film, TV and commercial productions. They can accommodate even the most demanding of underwater scenes and action sequences.

Technical Specification:
  • Pool 1: 19.2 m x 11.85 m; depth 3 m (63 ft x 38.8 ft x 9.8 ft)

  • Pool 2: 19.2 m x 11.85 m; depth 4.5 m (63 ft x 38.8 ft x 14.7 ft)
For more information on filming in our soundstages, or any other locations in Dubai, contact us here.
A growing footprint – DFTC's participation at industry events
As part of our efforts to grow awareness of Dubai’s production services and infrastructure for the international film and TV industry, the DFTC team has participated at the following industry events in 2014:
  • Dubai Lynx, 9-12 March, Dubai, UAE
    The Dubai Lynx International Festival of Creativity is the Middle East and North Africa region’s (MENA) annual must-attend event for the advertising industry with a large number of production houses and creative leaders in attendance.

  • CABSAT, 11-13 March, Dubai, UAE
    The leading event in the Middle East, Africa and South Asia region for the broadcast and digital media professionals, the CABSAT conference brought together global experts, local talent and Oscar and Emmy winners to discuss latest trends and requirements for the industry.

  • FICCI Frames, 12-14 March, Mumbai, India
    FICCI FRAMES is one of the most noteworthy media and entertainment sector trade events in India. The show is regularly attended by a large number of eminent dignitaries and professional executives from this sector and with Dubai becoming a preferred destination for Indian filmmakers, DFTC made its presence felt at the event.

  • AFCI Locations Show, 27-29 March, Los Angeles, USA
    The AFCI Locations Show brings together hundreds of global production VIPs from independent filmmaker to industry veteran to media to film commissioner, while showcasing an unbeatable display of incentives, production locations, and business and support services. DFTC was honoured to be awarded 2nd place in the Best Booth competition at the event.

  • NAB Show 2014, 5-10 March, Las Vegas, USA
    NAB Show is the world's largest electronic media show covering filmed entertainment and the development, management and delivery of content across all mediums. From creation to consumption, across multiple platforms and countless nationalities, NAB Show is home to the solutions that transcend traditional broadcasting and embrace content delivery to new devices in new ways.

  • MIPTV, 7-10 April, Cannes, France
    MIPTV is the world’s most-established TV and digital content market and the biggest gathering of entertainment industry professionals each year. Top television executives and creative talent from 100 countries converge in Cannes to forge early-stage content development partnerships and seal international distribution deals for the year ahead.

  • Arabian Travel Market (ATM), 5-8 May, Dubai
    The Arabian Travel Market is the region’s most popular travel and tourism event. We were there showcasing Dubai’s breathtaking locations.

We will be present at other events in 2014 and look forward to seeing you there.

The Dubai Film and TV Commission Team
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