x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

British romance film to be shot in the UAE

Actor reveals romance will be shot in Dubai, India and the UK and will feature A-list celebrities, with production scheduled for June.

DUBAI // Hollywood has had its turn, and now British film executives are gearing up to shoot a major motion picture in the UAE.

According to one of the actors, the film's cast will include big names from both sides of the Atlantic, but the identity of the A-list celebrities heading this way in summer remains a closely guarded secret.

Not even the name of the movie has been confirmed, but actor Wiqar Ali Khan was willing to reveal the movie is a romance based on factual events, and will be shot in the UK, India and Dubai.

"The story is a love triangle of three people and has a twist," said Khan, the former vice president of MTV Pakistan and one-time presenter, who has secured a leading role in the film. "What we can tell you is it is set over three continents and has mainstream appeal. It will also feature big celebrities."

Khan said he met the Dubai-based Indian director of the film, Arshad Yusuf Patan, during a recent visit to Dubai to host the Masala Awards at Atlantis hotel.

After auditioning for Patan, Khan was offered the role of a male model in the film. Having posed for Calvin Klein in the early 1990s, the character shouldn't require much research on his part.

"The film will be shot on 35mm format with a British crew and technicians from Hollywood," Khan said. "The pre-production is complete and locations have been chosen. The production of the movie is scheduled for June 2011."

In addition to employing local crew, the unnamed project will also give rising talent from the UAE a chance to star alongside established actors.

The growing interest from international production companies looking to shoot in the UAE is largely a budgetary move, according to Aline Lahoud, a Lebanese producer for Dubai-based VIP Films. "Budgets have decreased because of growing competition in the market," she said.

Ms Lahoud said many advertising agencies were opting to shoot television commercials here, too. "We work especially with companies from Spain, France, Germany and the Netherlands. I would say the attraction is a mixture of weather, good budget and locations."

David Shepheard, the director of the Abu Dhabi Film Commission, said a positive aspect of international co-productions was their ability to draw a creative team from around the world who could then impart their knowledge to the local industry.

"This type of partnership allows everyone on the team to benefit from different managerial and creative knowledge, and experiences being shared," Mr Shepheard said.

"Productions seek local talent from a practical and business point of view: obviously, [local actors] know the UAE culture and working practices. But it also saves the production money to hire local crew and technicians. This is something we encourage with international productions."

Jana Barnard, a production researcher for VIP Films, said local cast and crew were often hired for these productions.

"International co-productions do create more business for the local market and allow for the sharing of experience," she said.

But Ms Barnard warned that while these productions had been a boon to the local industry, not everyone was poised to profit.

"International companies look firstly for a trustworthy local partner, followed by an enticing fee," she said. "There has been a real production boom in the UAE, but a few companies closed shortly after opening due to lack of business."

melshoush@thenational.ae