Cinema of the United Arab Emirates

Cinema of the United Arab Emirates
No. of screens 255 (2010)[1]
  Per capita 3.2 per 100,000 (2010)[1]
Number of admissions (2011)[2]
Total 12,600,000
Gross box office (2012)[3]
Total $119 million

The Cinema of the United Arab Emirates began with a number of feature films that were broadcast on national television since the late 1980s.

In 2002, Emirates Film Competition was formed which influenced a generation of Emirati filmmakers to explore the short film format. The competition was merged onto Abu Dhabi Film Festival, which would eventually be shut down along with the Gulf Film Festival. However, the Dubai International Film Festival was founded in 2004 and continues its run till date. In April 2018, it was announced that the 15th edition of the festival would be postponed to 2019, re-launching as a bi-annual festival after running annually for 14 years.[4]

In 2005, The Dream became the first Emirati film to be distributed in cinemas across UAE. Meanwhile, the UAE began to attract South Asian films and television serials, mainly Bollywood and Lollywood productions.

In addition, UAE has a film studio (Dubai Studio City) which has been built to cultivate filmmaking in the region.

In 2008, Majid Abdulrazak became the first Emirati filmmaker to adapt a book into a film based on Wilfred Thesiger's Arabian Sands.

In 2009, the second edition of the Gulf Film Festival saw the premiere of two Emirati feature films for the first time. The Circle, by filmmaker and actor Nawaf Al-Janahi, told the story of Ibrahim, a poet and journalist who captures a thief and finds himself changing lives with him. Director and novelist Saleh Karama also showcased his first feature, Henna, in which the title character’s mother is sick, and her frequent fits have led to a divorce; fatherless Henna has to find a way to relate to her new father-figure, a Bedouin relative who arrives from the desert with his camels to visit the family.

The sixth edition of the Dubai International Film Festival in 2009 featured further screenings of The Circle and the premiere of the multilingual City of Life by Emirati director Ali F. Mostafa, which went on to achieve general release in UAE cinemas in the following year.

Nawaf Al-Janahi's film Sea Shadow was released on 17 November 2011.[5] It came out on DVD on 25 September 2013.

The first Emirati Science Fiction feature length film called Aerials was released on 16 June 2016.[6][7] Directed by S.A.Zaidi and produced by Ghanem Ghubash, Aerials was released in UAE simultaneously with Independence Day 2 as a contrast of both being alien invasion films.[8]

The UAE also has its own independent cinemas such as The Scene Club and Cinema Akil, founded in 2007 and 2014 respectively. Cinema Akil is set to become the first permanent independent cinema house in late 2018.[9]

Emirati films

1988Aber SabeelAli Al AbdoolAisha Abdulrahman, Bilal AbdullahDramaFirst Emirati film
1990Alteen AlakheerJassim JaberTV film
1996Makan Fil QalbMohammed NajibMohammed Al Amri, Moza Al Mazrooei, Sameera AhmadWar, Drama
2005The DreamHani Al ShaibaniNawaf Al Janahi, Ali Al Jabri, Abdulla Hassan AhmedDramaFirst Emirati film to release across UAE
2006Tarab FashionMohamed DahamHassan Ballam, Mayssa MaghrebiComedy
2006HaneenMohammad Al-TraifiFatima Abdulrahim, Moza AlMazrooei, YaldaDrama
2006EqaabMajid AbdulrazakMajid Albulrazak, Haifa Hussain, Mohammad Al JanahiDrama
2008Arabian SandsMajid AbdulrazakAbdullah Al Tararwah, Ali Tamimi, Majid Abdulrazak, Murad Fakhri BaluchiBiographical, AdventureBased on the book of the same name
2009The CircleNawaf Al JanahiAbdulmohsin Al Nimer, Ali Al Jabri, Nawaf Al JanahiCrime, Drama
2009HennaSaleh KaramaGazelle, Ayisha Hammed, Salem Obaid Al RaihiDrama
2009The Return of Umm Al DuwaisJuma Al SahliSameera Ahmad, SoghaHorrorTV film
2010City of LifeAli F. MostafaHabib Ghuloom, Saoud Al KaabiDrama
2011Sea ShadowNawaf Al JanahiNeven Madi, Omar AlmullaDrama
2013Bani AdamMajid AbdulrazakAbdulla Abdulaziz, Alaa ShakerDrama
2013Hob MalakiJamal SalemHabib Ghuloom, Mansoor Al Feeli, Huda SalahRomance
2013DjinnTobe HooperAbdulla Al Junaibi, Saoud Al KaabiHorror
2014Grandmother's FarmAhmed ZainSaeed Al Sharyani, Khalid Alnuaimi, Yaser Al NeyadiHorror, Comedy
2014From A to BAli F. MostafaFahad Albutairi, Shadi AlfonsDrama, Comedy
2014SundressSaeed Salmeen Al MurryHabib Ghuloom, Marrai Alhalyan, Neven Madi, Ahmad Abdullah, Sophia JawadDrama
2014Abood KandaishanFadel AlMheiriAbdulrahman Al Nakhi, Sawsan SaadComedy
2014DolphinsWaleed Al ShehhiReem Erhama, Khalid AmeenAdventure, Drama
2015ZinzanaMajid AlansariAli Suliman, Saleh BakriThriller
2015Going to HeavenSaeed Salmeen Al MurryJumaa Al Zaabi, Fatima Al TaeiDrama
2015Grandmother's Farm 2Ahmed ZainSaeed Al Sharyani, Khalid Alnuaimi, Yaser Al NeyadiHorror, Comedy
2015AbdullahHumaid Al SuwaidiMansoor Al Feeli, Mohammed Al Hammadi, Fatima Al Taei, Alaa ShakerDrama
2016Dhay Fe Abu DhabiRakanHassan Hosny, Ahmed SalehComedy
2016AerialsS A ZaidiSaga Alyasery, Mansoor Al FeeliSci-Fi
2016HajwalaAli Bin Muttar, Ibrahim Bin MohammedAnwar Aljabri, Sawsan SaadAction
2016A Drop of BloodNasser Al TamimiHabib Ghuloom, Amal MohammedHorror
2016 Bilal: A New Breed of Hero Ayman Jamal, Khurram Alavi Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, Jacob Latimore, Andre Robinson, Ian McShane Animation
2017The WorthyAli F. MostafaAli Suliman, Habib GhuloomAction, Thriller
2017Kart AhmarNasser Al TamimiBilal Abdulla, Badria AhmedSports
2017Dhay Fe ThailandRakanHassan Hosny, Ahmed SalehComedy
2017A Tale of ShadowsTariq AlkazimAlmer Agmyren, Dijana Divjak, Chuka EkweogwuThriller
2017LisaAhmed ZainAyman Khadim, Nasser Al Dhanhani, Ali Al ShehhiComedy
2017Only Men Go to the GraveAbdulla Al KaabiAbdelreza Nasari, Hebe Sabah, Awatif Salman, Saleema YaqoubDramaIraqi-language film
2018Awar QalbJamal SalemAbdulla Zaid, Juma Ali, Neven Madi, Marwa RatebComedy
2018Fan of AmoorySaeed Salmeen Al-MurryJumaa Al Zaabi, Mansoor Al Feeli, Alaa ShakerSports
2018Wesalna Wela B'adnaAisha Al ZaabiAhmed Abdulrazaq, Fatima Al Hosani, Mariam SultanComedy
2018Our Argentinian MaidHamed SalehAhmed Ahdy, Ahmed Al-Rekabi, Abdelrahman Al-ZaraoniComedy
2018CameraAbdulla Al JunaibiHumaid Alawadi, Yaser Alneyadi, Omar AlmullaThriller
2018Freej Al TaibeenAhmed ZainAli Al Shehhi, Huda Alghanim, Khaled Al NuaimiComedy
2018 Until Midnight Tariq Al Kazim Ahmed Khamis Ali, Chuka Ekweogwu Thriller
2018Hajwala 2Ibrahim bin MohamedHussain Al Hosani, Ali Abdulla Al Marzooqi, Abdulla Al YoussifAction
2018Shabab SheyabYasir Al-YasiriSaad Al Faraj, Mansoor Al Feeli, Marie Al HalyanComedy
2018Rashid & RajabMohammed Saeed HaribMarwan Abdulla, Shadi AlfonsComedy
2018CatsawayFadel AlMheiriAnimation

Films shot in the United Arab Emirates

Emirati directors

  • Abdullah Hasan Ahmed
  • Abdulla Al Junaibi
  • Abdulla Al Kaabi
  • Ahmed Zain
  • Ali F. Mostafa
  • Jamal Salem
  • Majid Abdulrazak
  • Majid Al Ansari
  • Nayla Al Khaja
  • Nawaf Al-Janahi
  • Saeed Salmeen Al-Murry
  • Tariq Alkazim
  • Rakan
  • Waleed Al Shehhi


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