The UAE Bollywood Connection – Why Filmmakers Love Dubai, Abu Dhabi

There are many compelling reasons why Indian filmmakers love shooting abroad: exotic locales for their films are attractive to audiences and many foreign authorities make it easier to obtain permits and other clearances for shooting than would be the case in India. Switzerland was the preferred destination for many filmmakers such as Yash Chopra for instance. Closer to home, Bollywood seems to love to film in the UAE too! In fact the Bollywood-UAE connection is a close and longstanding one and there are many reasons for this.

Great opportunities for filmmakers

Abu Dhabi attracts India’s biggest filmmakers and with good reason. A variety of facilities and personalised support for filmmakers facilitates smooth shooting schedules. Armed forces supply hardware such as trucks, choppers and military vehicles and government agencies help with logistics such as filming permits, road closures etc. The local talent pool of freelancers and the incentives and discounts offered by local agencies sweeten the deal further.

Dubai had a starring role in Happy New Year

The SRK starrer blockbuster Happy New Year was actually written with Dubai in mind. According to Farah Khan who wrote the script in 2014 she had Atlantis, the Palm in mind for the climax scene. The fact that 1,600 local extras were used for the movie is also noteworthy.

Hamari Adhuri Kahaani

The Vidya Balan and Emraan Hashmi starrer also showcased the attractions of Dubai beautifully. About a third of the film was shot in Dubai and Abu Dhabi; the film featuring the Dubai airport, Miracle Gaden, the Qasr Al Sarb desert and more.


The slickly made, acclaimed thriller featuring Indian secret agents battling international terrorists was also largely shot in the UAE. The film’s 120-strong continent shot extensively in Abu Dhabi, Al Ain and Liwa, actors and filmmakers being highly appreciative of the ease of shooting in the UAE. According to those involved in the production UAE is a great shooting destination because of its proximity to India, easy aviability of extras and the ease of getting filming permits.

Bang! Bang!

The spy thriller starring Hrithik Roshan and Katrina Kaif was also shot extensively in locations in Abu Dhabi such as Liwa Oasis, Corniche, Hyatt Capital Gate hotel, Emirates Palace Qasr Al Sarab, and Yas Island. The high octane race car chase sequence was also shot in the UAE.

Indian Diaspora in UAE

The number of films Indian filmmakers shoot in the UAE also has to do with the fact that there is a large audience in the UAE for Indian films. It isn’t just the Indian expats in the UAE (the largest number of expats in the UAE are from India), the local population also forms a part of Bollywood's avid viewership.

Shopping and vacationing in the UAE

Actors and others associated with the Indian film industry are frequently seen in Dubai and other parts of the UAE on shopping or leisure trips. Many from the film industry choose to get married in the UAE or are invited to destination weddings here.

Bollywood Park Dubai

The first Bollywood themed park in the world is in Dubai. That itself is a tribute to the Indian film industry from UAE! 

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