When Hollywood directors want the perfect setting for a blockbuster film, they head for Abu Dhabi.
The city is the only one in the Middle East on a new list of top international locations for film production.
The Hollywood online magazine P3 Update says a creative environment inspired by Arab heritage and year-round sunny blue skies make Abu Dhabi "like no place on Earth”.
The Abu Dhabi Film Commission also has a role: it offers a 30 per cent production rebate on approved spending, without a funding cap.
But this is about much more than money. The commission "is generous with their filming perks, but they also have a very strong passion for the film movement and provide a great filmmaking environment”, said Mustafa Abbas, the Emirati filmmaker whose film Sunset State had its premiere at the Dubai International Film Festival in December last year and was screened at the Cannes Film Festival in May.
"They have made it so that Abu Dhabi is a place that is welcoming to producers and filmmakers. A lot of industries around the world don't have this attitude of encouraging and supporting the creative process.
"Internationally we are at a very special place right now, mainly because the people involved in the industry here understand the language of film and appreciate the film movement – not to mention that Abu Dhabi is very cinematic aesthetically.”
Abbas is working on his first feature film, in conjunction with twofour54, the Abu Dhabi media zone that is at the forefront of film production in the emirate.
Noura Al Kaabi, chief executive of twofour54, said: "Being named among the top international locations for film production by one of the leading online media and entertainment publications is a welcome reflection of our mission to provide exceptional production services for local and international filmmakers.
"We are diligently working towards gaining more international interest and we look forward to welcoming local, regional and international producers to our beloved city.”
Their business support partner, twofour54 tawasol, eases Hollywood's work in the emirate, liaising with government authorities and ministries and smoothing the process so producers can focus on filming unburdened by the hassle of obtaining filming licences, scouting procedures and approvals.
As further testament to Abu Dhabi's growing international reputation, the leading film and entertainment website The Hollywood Reporter posted an article entitled "The ‘Star Wars' Effect: Why Hollywood Is Hot on Abu Dhabi.”
The site says Abu Dhabi is "poised to become Hollywood's go-to locale in the Middle East”, and refers to the franchise productions of Star Wars: Episode VII and Fast and Furious 7 that capitalised on the city's filming locations and twofour54's production facilities.
The attention from P3 Update and The Hollywood Reporter comes as Abu Dhabi plays host to the international film industry at the Abu Dhabi Film Festival, which continues until November 1.
Source: The National