A perfect combination of modern architecture, golden sands, sunny skies and turquoise waters makes Abu Dhabi a filmmaker’s delight
Abu Dhabi is the capital and second-largest city in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). It lies on a T-shaped island jutting into the Persian Gulf from the central-western coast of the Persian Gulf. Sunny skies and a versatile landscape make filming in Abu Dhabi a pleasurable experience.
Year-round sunshine, pristine beaches, spectacular sand dunes and a pulsating cosmopolitan lifestyle make Abu Dhabi a hotspot for film shoots. This, along with distinctive Arabian hospitality, mystique and world-class infrastructure make Abu Dhabi an enchanting destination for experienced and novice film production companies. This island capital is characterised by its signature Corniche, which fronts the amazing turquoise waters of the Arabian Gulf.
Most of Abu Dhabi is located on the island itself, but it has many suburbs on the mainland Khalifa City including Mussafah Residential, which are very picturesque. One of the most important architectural landmarks in Abu Dhabi is the majestic Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque. This masterpiece is arguably one of the most important architectural treasures of contemporary UAE society and one of the most beautiful in the world.
Abu Dhabi Film Commission (ADFC) is part of the Media Zone Authority – Abu Dhabi. It was launched in 2009 and has a mandate to support the development of Abu Dhabi’s growing film and TV industry and promote the emirate as a production and filming location. This forms part of the wider Media Zone Authority’s aim to support the development of a sustainable Arabic media industry and establish Abu Dhabi as a regional centre of excellence for Arabic media and entertainment content creation.
Abu Dhabi has a variety of fantastic locations that have never been filmed, including a stunning coastline, wild deserts, amazing oases, iconic architecture and the modern city. Apart from providing tax-free incentives, the Abu Dhabi Film Commission also assists with the regularities which are required for shooting in the region. Abu Dhabi has everything and everyone you need for your production.
Abu Dhabi has a hot and arid climate. Sunny blue skies can be expected throughout the year. The months of June through September are generally hot and humid, with maximum temperatures averaging above 35 °C. During this time, sandstorms also occur intermittently, in some cases reducing visibility to a few metres.
The weather is cooler from November to March. This period also sees dense fog on some days. However, the dry desert air and cooler evenings make it a traditional retreat from the intense summer heat and year-round humidity of the capital city.
The ADFC offers the Middle East’s first production incentive, providing access to a generous 30 per cent cash-back rebate on productions, including feature films, television dramas (including series), commercials, other television formats, such as lifestyle, reality, game shows and entertainment programmes shot in Abu Dhabi; and post-production, digital content services, visual effects (PDV) services for projects shot inside or outside Abu Dhabi. Rebate also applies on travel and accommodation including airfares booked with an Abu Dhabi Media Zone Authority travel agent. The maximum amount to be paid by the rebate stands at USD5 million for films and the lowest at USD500,000 for commercials.
Apart from the cash rebate on production the ADFC also provides free scouting assistance and a diverse range of unique locations including iconic architecture. With the first class studios and post-production facilities at competitive rates, services offering for government servicing, permits, visas, script approval, and customs clearance and shooting permits.
Abu Dhabi Film Commission provides all filming permits and location support for the filming team, facilitating negotiations between government agencies and the police for filming in different locations in Abu Dhabi City, Al Ain and the Western Region.
The applicant can be either a production and/or production services company applying through a partnership with a Media Zone-Abu Dhabi registered entity. Only one entity per production can apply. Entities receiving Abu Dhabi public funding are not eligible.
Applications for the rebate should be received at least 20 days before commencement of principal photography in Abu Dhabi and 40 days if there are script approvals required from the National Media Council. Principal photography must start within 60 days of Issuance of the Interim Rebate Certificate by ADFC. Please note that applicants must obtain an Interim Rebate Certificate during pre-production (before commencing principal photography).