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13 Hollywood movies that were shot in the UAE

Abu Dhabi and Dubai have proven to be popular destinations among celebrities.

The UAE is a hub for all things entertainment. And with celebrities such as Beyoncé, Will Smith and many others frequenting the country, it’s no surprise that several Hollywood movies have been shot in the region. After all, our sandy dunes and gorgeous skyscrapers provide the perfect backdrop for cultural yet very futuristic sets. If you’re wondering which Hollywood movies shot in the UAE have made it to the silver screen, you’ve come to the right place. 

6 Underground (2019)

Helmed by famed director Michael Bay, 6 Underground was mostly shot on Abu Dhabi’s Reem Island. Apart from exhilarating car chase sequences, this Ryan Reynolds film also showed the architectural beauty of the capital. Some of the other prominent locations featured in 6 Underground include the Aldar Headquarters, Louvre Abu Dhabi and Al Ain’s Jebel Hafeet.

6 Underground

Dune (2021) and Dune: Part 2 (2023)

This one is a no-brainer! What better location than the UAE’s golden dunes to shoot a film that’s actually titled Dune. The Zendaya and Jason Momoa-starrer, which hit screens in 2021, was filmed in the capital city of Abu Dhabi, particularly the Empty Quarter. And with the production of Dune: Part 2 underway, some cast members have returned to the UAE to shoot their scenes. As for Jason, he’s now also the chief island officer at Yas Island. Talk about coming full circle.

movies shot in the UAE

Furious 7 (2015)

We’re just surprised this one didn’t happen sooner. The Fast and Furious franchise, which started in 2001 saw some of the most luxurious cars take to the streets for the ultimate showdown. And what better place to spot luxury cars than the UAE, right? Better late than never, The Fast Saga made its way to the Emirates in 2015 with Furious 7. Filmed across Abu Dhabi, the high-impact action sequences used some of the most popular spots in the capital as the perfect setting. If you haven’t watched Furious 7 yet, now’s the perfect time – because The Fast Saga is coming to a close. You definitely won’t miss the exuberant scenes shot at Conrad Abu Dhabi Etihad Towers, Emirates Palace and Yas Marina Circuit.

movies shot in the UAE

Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol (2011)

If you’re someone who’s been in the UAE for a long time, you probably already know about the viral stunt that Tom Cruise performed on the Burj Khalifa. While the world’s tallest tower was definitely a challenging spot to perform elaborate stunts, Tom wouldn’t have it any other way. But Burj Khalifa wasn’t the only place where Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol was filmed. While it was one of the selling points, other popular locations featured in the movie included Deira, Satwa and even the Meydan Racecourse.

movies shot in the UAE

Mission Impossible: Dead Reckoning (2023)

After that iconic Burj Khalifa stunt, it only made sense for the Mission Impossible franchise to return to the UAE. The cast and crew were in the capital in 2021 to shoot scenes for the two upcoming Mission Impossible installments. While details of the locations have not been revealed, we’re hoping that some shots of Ethan Hunt running on the dome of the Louvre Abu Dhabi make the final cut. Not to forget the very exhilarating Yas Marina Circuit for a signature MI chase.

movies shot in the UAE

Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2015)

The UAE really is a land unlike any other and that’s precisely what the makers of Star Wars thought too. To depict the isolated planet of Jakku, Abu Dhabi proved to be the perfect place. With picturesque locations such as Al Wathba Fossil Dunes, the Empty Quarter and the magnanimous sandy humps in the Al Dhafra region, filmmaker JJ Abrams knew that the force was strong with this one.

movies shot in the UAE

Star Trek Beyond (2016)

There are two main reasons why Star Trek producer Jeffrey Chernov decided to shoot the film in Dubai. Firstly, it was the “world of the future” that Dubai offered and secondly, because of the great tax incentive – which should be a cue for other production houses to venture to the UAE. Star Trek Beyond was filmed across Dubai including the luxurious Burj Al Arab, the Al Mas Tower in DMCC, Meydan and Dubai Studio City. But that’s not all. Jeffrey was convinced that since most of the movie was shot in Dubai, it was best to have a red-carpet premiere in the city as well. And that is exactly what happened.

movies shot in the UAE

Syriana (2005)

While the UAE has been a popular filming destination, the first major Hollywood production shot in the country was none other than Syriana. The George Clooney-starrer featured several sequences in the desert, which provided the perfect backdrop for the movie’s plot, which revolves around the Middle East’s oil business. George also won an Oscar for his performance in the film and while he is an exceptional actor, we’d also like to give some credit to the UAE’s deserts *wink*.

Syriana

The Misfits (2021)

If you’re someone who’s watched the very dashing Pierce Brosnan as James Bond, you must be excited to find out that the actor shot one of his movies in the UAE. And no, this wasn’t a James Bond movie – though we’d love for one to be shot here too. Pierce Brosnan’s Misfits, which hit screens in 2021, was filmed in Abu Dhabi, primarily in the Etihad Towers complex. In fact, one of the scenes was shot in the actor’s hotel room because the weather outside did not allow for the crew to film outdoors. Other scenes of Misfits were shot at Louvre Abu Dhabi and Atlantis, The Palm in Dubai.

movies shot in the UAE

Vanguard (2020)

Jackie Chan’s action thriller Vanguard was also shot in the UAE. In March 2019, Jackie along with the rest of the cast and crew of the film, made their way to Dubai to shoot some high-impact action sequences. The movie was filmed across various locations such as Downtown Dubai, Dubai Studio City and City Walk. Vanguard, slated to be released in January 2020, only saw the light of day in October 2020 – when it was also screened at the Dubai Opera. 

Vanguard

War Machine (2017)

Hollywood heartthrob Brad Pitt shot his 2017 film, War Machine in the UAE as well. The film delves into America’s war against Afghanistan and naturally, either needed a real location or a massive set to depict the latter. That’s where Abu Dhabi stepped in and doubled as the war-torn nation of Afghanistan. Some of the scenes of the film were shot at ADNEC in the capital while others were completed in Ras Al Khaimah.

movies shot in the UAE

Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps (2010)

While Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps was primarily shot in the United States, specifically on Wall Street – as the name suggests, there was still quite a lot missing. What, you ask? Luxury, of course! And that is exactly why the film shot some of its most luxurious scenes in Dubai to depict the elite life of the rich and famous.

movies shot in the UAE

The Kingdom (2007)

Long before Hollywood headed to Saudi Arabia for filming, the UAE served up as the perfect Middle Eastern location. Offering similar landscapes and weather conditions, Abu Dhabi was portrayed as a very Riyadh-like city in 2007’s The Kingdom. The film, starring Jamie Foxx and Jennifer Garner, was based on the real-life incident of the bombing at an American facility in the Saudi capital. The iconic Emirates Palace was one of the locations where filming for The Kingdom took place.

movies shot in the UAE

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Shaheera Anwar - Staff Writer
From a beautiful childhood in Riyadh to a calm and collected life in Dubai. When she's not busy penning her latest masterpiece, you can catch Shaheera lounging with her family or binging on the latest movies. And as a millennial, she's got her sights set on TikTok - hoping to go viral someday (fingers crossed).

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