Join us on our blockbusting tour around some of the past, present and future locations for movies shot in Abu Dhabi…

Abu Dhabi has got a lot to offer movie industry’s imagineers. The modern towerscape paints a futuristic skyline, whilst the empty quarter’s golden sands can whisper of desert adventure, other-worldy planes or the romance of a bygone time.

It’s little wonder there are so many movies shot in Abu Dhabi. Here’s a look at some of our favourites…

Dune (2020)


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Come on down, the spice is right. Set to hit the big screen in December this year, Dune is director Denis Villeneuve’s interpretation of the classic Frank Herbert science fiction novel of the same name and serves as a reboot to the popular 1984 movie. This time round the cast is headed up by Josh Brolin, Rebecca Ferguson, Timothée Chalamet and Jason Momoa. The story follows Paul Atreides (Chalamet), a young man thrust into a power struggle on a distant planet, where two houses battle for control of the galaxy’s most precious resource, a ‘spice’ called Melange. The main location for the action is the desert planet of Arrakis. *Abu Dhabi enters stage left with much deserty swagger*

Where to get those on-location pics: Abu Dhabi’s Empty Quarter.

6 Underground (2019)

There’s some pretty simple box office arithmetic that goes into putting Michael Bay and Ryan Reynolds together. You know you’re going to get epic cinematography backed up by frantic action scenes and sassy dialogue, delivered with trademark Reynolds panache, which neatly sums up this particular high energy, super fun Netflix movie. And a lot of it was filmed right here in Abu Dhabi – so much of it in fact, Michael Bay was able to create this amazing compilation of shots as a stunning little side project (above). Gosh, aren’t we so pretty.

Where to get those on-location pics: Everywhere.

Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens (2015)

We always knew the force is strong with AUH but did you know the planet of Jakku – where we first meet Rey (Daisy Ridley), the central protagonist of the final Star Wars Trilogy – is actually Abu Dhabi? Or at least that’s where those scenes were filmed. Star Wars is one of the biggest movie franchises of all time, so having your location immortalised as part of the saga is a pretty big deal. Abu Dhabi actually gets a name check in the movie too, during a conversation with companion Finn (John Boyega), Rey refers to a location called ‘Liwa Outpost.’ A kestral run we can plug into our sat nav, and make in less than 12 parsecs. A message to the creators of Disney+ series, The Mandalorian, if you’re looking for a location to shoot season two – we can totally see Baby Yoda lifting and X-Wing out of the mangroves.

Where to get those on-location pics: Liwa / Rub’ al Khali desert.

Mission Impossible Fallout (2018)

OK, forgive us, this is a bit of a cop-out. Despite the movie racking up more destinations than a gap year student with a trust fund, there’s only actually one scene filmed here in the UAE. And they used CGI to make it look like Paris. It’s during Ethan Hunt’s (Tom Cruise) ill-fated lightning-besieged HALO (high altitude, low opening) parachute jump. As an interesting bit of background, it took Cruise 106 jumps to get those precious few moments of screen time.

Where to get those on-location pics: in-flight / freefall.

Furious 7 (2015)

Love them or hate them, Fast and Furious movies are a big deal at the box office. And the seventh installment of the franchise, Furious 7, takes some of its road rage out on the cinematic streets of our capital. In one of the most physics-defying scenes from a series known for playing fast and loose with the laws of nature, Brian O’Conner (Paul Walker) and Dominic Toretto (Vin Diesel) take a Lykan Hypersport car and jump between the Jumeirah at Etihad Towers. Twice. This movie was sadly Paul Walker’s last, as he tragically passed-away during filming. Impressive CGI rendering was used to fill-in his final scenes to make for an emotional farewell.  

Where to get those on-location pics: Jumeirah at Etihad Towers, Emirates Palace, Corniche, Yas Island.

Race 3 (2018)

Race 3 was not the first and certainly won’t be the last of the big-budget Indian movies shot in Abu Dhabi. This explosive action flick has a cast list that includes Bollywood legend Salman Khan, Anil Kapoor, and Bobby Deol. The story follows an uncle and nephew team, embroiled in the arms trade, battling with ferocious competitors, betrayals and a dream to return to India safely. The movie actually shot in six different locations here including Emirates Palace, W Abu Dhabi – Yas Island (at the time known as Yas Viceroy), the St Regis Abu Dhabi, the ADNEC, Emirates Steel and Liwa.

Where to get those on-location pics: Emirates Palace, Yas Island and Liwa.

Misfits (2020?)


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This film is fixing to drop sometime this year. Probably. We don’t know much about it, other than a rough outline of the plot (gold heist goes awry – don’t they always?) and that it stars Pierce Brosnan, Jamie Chung and Tim Roth. We also know that the movie is set in the Middle East, that they’ve been filming at several spots the UAE, and that Abu Dhabi was selected as ‘the primary shoot’ location.

Where to get those on-location pics: Jumeirah at Etihad Towers.

Images: Unsplash