Complex Made Simple

A ‘Cruise’ in a UAE hotspot where an untapped billion dollar industry lives

We often hear about the oil industry or the opportunities that the region provides for entrepreneurs, but what about the show business?

In fact, not only has the Middle East had its films nominated for the Oscars and won awards at Cannes, but it is also getting a lot of attention from Hollywood directors for its beautiful scenery and vast opportunities.

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Mission “possible”

Usually, actors have a stunt double to perform dangerous stunts that might often be harmful to them, but Tom Cruise is one of the very few actors out there who perform their own stunts.

Recently, Abu Dhabi’s deserts were the setting of this shoot, as Cruise had to jump out of a plane at 7,600m over them and wait until he was below 600m to pull his parachute for the newest “Mission Impossible” stunt.

However, Cruise did not perform just any jump; it was in fact a “Halo” jump.

These jumps provide twice the amount of freefall time compared to a standard parachute jump, but are inherently risky, according to experts.

These jumps can result in death, hypoxia, or insanity, according to experts.

“You start losing your mind, but you don’t realize it,” said Ray Armstrong, the stunt’s chief instructor for the movie.

After approximately 100 trial stunts and a lot of help from the Film Commission of the UAE capital, not to mention that the scene had to be filmed during sunset in a three-minute timeframe, it was a success, according to Cruise’s tweet saying: “We needed the UAE,” said Cruise in a video posted on Twitter to promote the movie’s upcoming release. “Had they not stepped in, we would not have been able to accomplish the sequence.”

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One scene and out?

One film — or one scene from a film — does not make a fully fledged movie industry, according to Variety magazine.

As Maryam Eid AlMheiri, CEO of Abu Dhabi’s Media Zone Authority, puts it: “If we want to build a sustainable economy around film production it’s not about one movie a year,” according to a Variety report.

Nor ultimately is it merely about Hollywood stopovers of varying lengths, such as those made by productions like “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” or “Furious 7.”

This is why AlMheiri calls the 65-day shoot of 2017 Bollywood hit “Tiger Zinda Hai,” toplining Indian superstar Salman Khan, a turning point to an otherwise hidden potential industry.

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Film and get some money back

Thanks to its 30% rebate on production spending and other perks, according to the Film Commission in Abu Dhabi, the Emirate has become a prime destination to shoot a blockbuster since 2017.

Specifically, the incentive consists of a cash rebate of up to 30% on qualified spend.

Maximum rebates available for feature films are $5 million; for TV shows and series, the maximum is $1 million.

For post-production only, there’s a maximum rebate of $250,000 for feature films and $150,000 for TV programs and series.

A minimum of only a day shoot in Abu Dhabi is required, according to the Commission’s reports.

The minimum spending for features is $200,000; for TV programs or series, it’s $50,000. The minimum spending for post-production is only $70,000 for features and $15,000 for TV projects.

Recent projects shot in Abu Dhabi include “War Machine” (2017), “Star Wars: The Force Awakens” (2015), “Furious 7” (2015), “Deliver Us From Evil” (2014) and “The Bourne Legacy,” according to each movie’s credits.