Action hero Akshay Kumar’s 2015 flick Baby showcases the emirate several times, particularly in the second half of the film. The Indian espionage action thriller shot scenes in the capital in 2013 and is just one of many blockbusters to take advantage of the rebates offered by the Abu Dhabi Film Commission for filming on location. Kumar was quick to praise the UAE’s help to ensure the movie production was a success. “You just can’t shoot like this in Mumbai. They won’t close a part of the street for you – they’d rather close the shoot,” he said. The desert resort of Qasr Al Sarab was used for this one.
02 Race 3
Liwa once again proved to be an iconic backdrop for Race 3, a Bollywood blockbuster starring Salman Khan released back in June of this year. “We got everything that we wanted. It was beautiful, peaceful, no disturbances, we do really good work in Abu Dhabi… it was a great experience,” said Khan. Scenes were also shot at Emirates Palace, Nation Towers (the hotel’s helipad, no less) ADNEC, the Yas Viceroy, Al Hudayriat Bridge, and at Leaf Tower on Al Maryah Island (the residential block’s car park was used for a chase scene).
“The scale that Abu Dhabi has… the sand dunes, they look very cinematic, they look absolutely beautiful. The action scenes look even more special,” said co-star Anil Kapoor. The UAE’s Armed Forces supplied the crew with Humvees, NIMR military vehicles and even a Blackhawk helicopter for the shoot.
03 Bang Bang
The very first Bollywood flick to be filmed in Abu Dhabi, Hindi thriller/comedy Bang Bang stars Hrithik Roshan and Katrina Kaif and this one links Tom Cruise to the capital once again – it’s a remake of his 2010 movie
Knight And Day (co-starring Cameron Diaz). The shoot took in plenty of iconic landmarks in the capital, including Liwa, Qasr Al Sarab, Emirates Palace, Hyatt Capital Gate, Yas Marina Circuit and the Corniche, which was closed to shoot a scene in the film featuring over 100 motors, including an F1 racing car.
04 Tiger Zinda Hai
Bollywood legend Salman Khan has made several trips to the emirate – he was here in late 2017 filming this thriller set in Iraq about a group of Indian and Pakistani nurses being held hostage by a group of terrorists (it’s based on a true story from 2014, when ISIL kidnapped 49 nurses in Mosul).
Abu Dhabi’s twofour54 helped the producers make a 20,000sqm set recreation of Iraq at the emirate’s Khalifa Industrial Zone, while scenes with Khan on a quad bike were also shot in the Liwa desert.
“Tiger Zinda Hai required a certain scale of desert in the film and Liwa provided that,” said the film’s director, Ali Abbas Zafar. “Temperatures were soaring and as we shot action sequences with a moving car here, the conditions were extremely challenging. But the unit stood by our vision, and the local crew at Abu Dhabi was also very supportive.”
Once again, the UAE Army helped with the film, lending helicopters, tanks and more to the production. It’s one of the highest-grossing Indian films of all time.
05 Duvvada Jagannadham (DJ)
It’s not just Bollywood movies that shoot in the capital – a Tollywood (movies made in the Telugu dialect) flick has been shot here also, a vigilante comedy film starring Allu Arjun and Pooja Hegde. As well as 120 crew members, some 40 dancers were also in the emirate to make the movie, which was released in 2017. Eleven locations were used for the shoot, including the gardens of Emirates Palace.