Dubai looks to rival Cairo as TV commercial hub

The number of television commercials filmed across the UAE is predicted to double in 2007 because of a new streamlined application process, it has been claimed.

Dubai Studio City, which now grants applications for filming at locations across the emirate, revealed that it granted 90 applications for filming television commercials in the UAE in 2006, and expects this number will rise to at least 180 this year.

The UAE has become an increasingly popular destination for filming TV commercials, with applications last year from Germany, Italy, the UK and India.

So far in 2007, Jamal Al Sharif, director of Dubai Studio City, said his department had received 27 applications from firms wanting to film TV commercials in the UAE.

"Out of the 350 applications that were approved in 2006 about 90 of them were TV commercials. One of the main reasons for this is the weather.

"Number one is landscape, number two is the availability of the crew and the equipment and the production facilities."

He said that another factor behind the rise in applications is the fact that Studio City now offers a three-day turnaround application process through its Location Approval Service (LAS). Previously, companies wanting to film in the emirate had to approach UAE authorities such as the police and municipalities separately to gain permission a procedure which would take up to a fortnight.

Al Sharif said the most popular locations for filming around Dubai are the lakes at Dubai Media City and Dubai Internet City, the creek, beaches, Sheikh Zayed Road, and the Hatta Mountains.

However, once Dubai Studio City has been completed companies will have the opportunity to film commercials on the development's three sound stages two studios of 25,295sq ft to be completed by the first quarter of 2008, another of 15,000sq ft to be competed in the fourth quarter of this year as well as a three million square foot back lot where companies can build outdoor sets.

"In this area you could build, let's say, the Taj Mahal or you could build maybe a White House," said Al Sharif.

"It's a big open lot, with infrastructure, water, streets and roads."

Traditionally Cairo has been the a major TV commercial filming hub in the Middle East, however Al Sharif claimed it could soon be competing with Dubai.

"You could have the streets of Cairo or the Pyramids in our back lot," he said.

Dubai Studio City is being built on 20 million square feet within Dubailand. It aims to attract production companies as well as providers of other services, such as costume design, stage design and casting.

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