With a dominating skyline, expansive desert, state-of-the-art highway bridges, a futuristic light-rail system, giant man-made islands, spectacular seaside structures, Dubai’s a photographer’s paradise. Known for its excessive wealth, glitz, and the world’s biggest and tallest of everything, it truly lives up to its reputation. There’s so much to shoot here that wherever you point your camera in Dubai, you are guaranteed to capture something awesome, which will totally take your breath away. These are some of the top reasons why Dubai draws so many photographers and videographers every year to shoot films, commercials, corporate videos, and more.
With 4 decades of experience in providing filming permits for production companies from outside and being locals, we have extensive knowledge about shooting videos in Dubai. So, let’s check out the top ten tips to make sure you have the basic know-how before you begin shooting:
We cannot reiterate this enough. Whether you need to shoot a movie, documentary, corporate video, or TV show, you need to obtain a filming permit license in Dubai, UAE, or the Gulf or you will have to pay a very huge amount as a fine.
The UAE government requires you to work with a licensed media partner like Studio52 to obtain the permit. If you are shooting indoors at a private property that doesn’t reflect any part of Dubai or UAE and doesn’t show any buildings, you won’t need to take filming permission. If you’re in any public or private places, however, you need to gather the proper permits.
Respect the Local Culture
From cityscapes to the desert, there’s so much to shoot in Dubai that you might get overwhelmed. So, before you begin shooting, you need to respect the local culture as you would in any country.
In general people in Dubai don’t mind photographers or videographers moving around with cameras, but if you invade anyone’s privacy, most people won’t like it. Try to avoid doing that, and if someone’s coming in your way, you can politely ask them to move away.
Filming government buildings in Dubai like the Dubai Chamber, Dubai Civil Defense, Dubai Courts, Dubai Public Prosecution, and other such entities is strictly prohibited unless you have permission.
Capture the Local Culture
When you are in Dubai, you need to be aware of the best places to shoot as it can add context, culture, and uniqueness to your video content. You can capture the local tourist hot spots, and popular sights in new cinematic ways. Head on to Bur Dubai, one of the oldest neighborhoods in Dubai, to capture traditional architecture, narrow side streets, and mosques for an insight into the life of ‘real Dubai’.
There’s a lot to film in Dubai Creek if you are not looking for the glitz and glamour. You would find local people sailing in small ‘Abra’ to and from work each day down the creek. There’s also the Spice Souk and the Textile Souk for some amazing shots.
Travel Beyond Dubai
Whether you are there to shoot a film, an ad, or a TV show, don’t just limit yourself to Dubai. An hour and a half drive south of Dubai would take you to another magical location, Abu Dhabi. There’s the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, one of the most opulent and impressive religious monuments in the world.
There’s another magnificent location, Sharjah, just 30-minute drive north of Dubai, that you can use as a base for filming. It has a blue-collar vibe which could make for some interesting videography, especially if you are shooting a corporate video or anything related to it.
If you want to capture the stars, and sand dunes, you can head to the desert cities nearby.
Planning to make a video with futuristic elements in it, like Star Trek Beyond or Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol, then Dubai is the perfect place to capture such architectural masterpieces.
Being the tallest building in the world, The Burj Khalifa has 163 floors that rise so high that the upper part of the building is covered with a dreamy fog all the time of the year. Other such great buildings for filming include the Burj al Arab, the Infinity Tower, and Princess Tower.
Best Time to Shoot
Most of the places in the UAE have 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. You might also need to prepare yourself for thunderstorms and dust storms that can strike suddenly and impact visibility. From October to March you would find the weather to be milder, and thus best for shooting.
Filming during the holy month of Ramadan could prove to be difficult as many services close during this time. Public holidays may also affect timing, availability, and costs.
If you want to include horses or camels racing through the desert, you need to visit during the months that they take place. The Emirates World Series Horse Race takes place in April, while camel racing happens from September to March.
Be Sensitive to Local Culture
Aside from respecting people’s privacy, being sensitive to the local culture is also important. According to Article 4.5 of Dubai’s Code of Conduct, you should not take photos of people – especially women and families – in public places without their consent.
Although this code is specific to Dubai, similar strict rules are upheld in other parts of UAE too.
You may obtain a visitor visa for free at the point of entry into the United Arab Emirates. Since you will be filming with your equipment, you will also need a copy of filming permissions to show the customs department to get your equipment in the Emirates with all relevant documents.
If you do not want to go through all that hassles, you can contact Studio52 for not only a filming permit but also, state-of-the-art camera equipment.
Follow a Proper Dress Code
For filming outdoors, it’s very important to follow the dress code in Dubai. Respect the local dress if you are in public. Dress code might vary depending upon where you for in Dubai, but typically, men shouldn’t wear shorts, unbuttoned shirts, or shirts that are tucked in. While women should refrain from wearing any tight-fitting clothing, low-cut tops, dresses or skirts above the knee, sleeveless garments, or leggings.
So, before leaving make sure that you have packed appropriately.
Even though the official language of Dubai is Arabic, you can communicate with locals in English. This is why it’s not much of an issue while you film in Dubai. However, if you want to make a good rapport with the locals for any shots or hiring any local actors, it wouldn’t hurt to learn a few key phrases in Arabic.
We hope these tips would help you prepare yourself in advance so you can head straight to shooting. If you want to film in Dubai, you can go through our resources on film permit for more information or just contact us!