Can I expect to get crew for all aspects of production?
D-SEVEN Motion Pictures can arrange crew for every aspect of production. It is advised that you have your shoot booked sufficiently in advance to ensure the best crew are available.
Is the internet fast enough for video content?
The ever improving infrastructure in Dubai is more than capable of handling video content. Certain areas are now capable of offering a connection of 100mb with 10mb upload. 3G is standard across the region and 4G dongles are available up to 100mbps. As in every country the internet speed varies depending on connection and service to the area you are in. Generally you can expect an office/apartment to average between 90-92mbps download and 8.5 upload speed.
Is it possible to perform a live feed out of Dubai?
All major buildings have fiber optic links so this should not be an issue. There is also an SNG available however is advisable to book early as there is only one SNG and one company permitted to operate it.
Can I get crew to work with me on a freebie?
Dubai doesn’t have a large local population who are available to do things pro-rata, it’s going to be hard to find crew to work for free here.
I do not speak Arabic, will this be an issue?
It is common in Dubai for English to be used as a business language.
Can I shoot in a different location within the Middle East?
It is very common for crew based in Dubai to work across the Middle East and GCC region. Dubai has a strong expat contingent and a wealth of international experience.
Do crew charge overtime?
As a rule, yes.
Local environment and cultural insight
• The filming of local women is strictly prohibited unless they have given you confirmation of their permission.
• The filming of alcohol is prohibited unless you obtain a permit. This extends to the filming of people drinking alcohol, people who are clearly drunk, or anything else of this nature.
• The filming of pornography or nudity is strictly prohibited under any circumstances.
• The proselytizing of other religions, or defamation of Islam is not tolerated.
• The filming of government property and military bases or palaces requires strict permission.
• Any filming without a permit is prohibited.
A local crew will be able to guide you if you are unsure of any of the local sensibilities. Do your best to respect the local customs as you are in a conservative culture.
The two day weekend in the UAE begins with Friday as this is the holy day in the religion of Islam. In some parts of the GCC the two day weekend begins on a Thursday. It is fair to make the comparison of a Friday in the UAE and a Sunday in Europe and the USA so you should expect the task of reaching companies or completing any production work to be very tough.
Holidays in Islamic countries depend on the sighting of the moon so it is best to carry out up to date research of your own. Please note that it is very hard to provide any production services around the Eid holidays.
In the religion of Islam, Friday is a holy day, and therefore a weekend in Islamic states such as the UAE. In some parts of the GCC area the weekend is Thursday and Friday, in Dubai and the UAE, the weekend is Friday and Saturday. Please note that Friday is like a Sunday in Europe and the US, and is consequently very hard to complete any production work.
Islamic Holidays for 2015 & 2016
Holidays in Islamic countries depend on the sighting of the moon, as the year runs according to the lunar calendar. Some of the following dates are therefore estimates. Please note that it is very hard to provide any production services around the Eid holidays.
Eid Al Adha
24 October 2015
15 October 2015
UAE National Day
2 December 2015
Mouloud – Birth of the Prophet
24 December 2015
Leilat al Meiraj – Ascension of the Prophet
5 May 2016
7 June 2016
Eid Al Fitr
7 July 2016
Is it possible to film during Eid and other Islamic holidays?
It is possible but it would involve the same difficulties of trying to arrange a shoot on Christmas Day in a Western country. Our advice would be to avoid it if possible.
Is it possible to film during Ramadan?
It is possible to film during Ramadan however there are many restrictions that you should be aware of. Eating, Drinking and Smoking are all forbidden in public during daylight hours. This is a strict rule and punishable by law. Even the drinking of water in public is strictly forbidden and local organisations operate within reduced hours. Again, our advice would be to avoid it if possible.
How restricted is the Internet in Dubai?
You will quite often see a ‘site blocked’ message from your provider if the content you are trying to view has material that is against Islam and the security of the UAE. In that respect there are more restrictions than in the rest of the world however none more than a ‘safe search’ mode.
My film contains nudity scenes in private settings, will it be ok to shoot?
Can I film in the airport?
Yes you can, but the location fees can be very high for commercial purposes, regardless of which area of the airport you are filming in. When scheduling, remember that all crew and equipment have to go through security checks just as if you are boarding a flight, and it is the same on exiting. Ensure that you schedule a lot of time for this as it can really eat up your shoot day.
How do I prevent the sand from getting into my equipment?
There is no real way to prevent this when filming in certain areas or conditions. Equipment needs to be cleaned and checked every night in Dubai as a result.
Will full grip equipment be available?
Dubai now has some state of the art facilities and almost all equipment you should require is available. You are however unlikely to find any very specialist equipment out here.
Do you have the equipment for me to work in NTSC?
Most of the systems in the Middle East are PAL and therefore the cameras used in the region tend to be geared up to be compatible. Modern HD and HDV cameras can shoot at an NTSC frame rate but there is less availability in SD.
Will the heat have an effect on my equipment?
During the summer it can get extremely hot in Dubai so naturally this can have an adverse effect on any technical equipment. Moving equipment from an air conditioned studio outside into direct heat and vice versa can cause condensation. This can hold up a shoot for hours. There is little to do to avoid this although storing your camera outside with the bag slightly open and camera switched on will help.
Is it easy to fix equipment in Dubai?
There are not many spare parts available in Dubai so equipment is shipped overseas for repair. There are some local service centers but reliability can be mixed, even if branded from a global company.
Will I be able to purchase equipment in Dubai?
There are fewer outlets that stock high end technical equipment and it is rare that you will be able to get the advice of a technical expert in a store. D-SEVEN Motion Pictures has a business relationship with Canon Middle East and can avail their help for their equipment.
What equipment is available?
Apart from specialist cameras such as the Phantom etc, there is pretty much everything you will need here, including RED Epic, RED Dragon, Arri Alexa, 35mm, Sony and Panasonic HD and everything else can be rented out.
Does the UAE have Carnet?
Sort of. Carnet has been introduced in the UAE but only the “goods for use at trade fairs, shows, exhibitions and events” category. Carnet hasn’t quite been implemented fully yet, especially with respect to Freezones, where most production companies are based. This is a grey area at the moment, contact your production company for more details. The old, and possibly still current system is that you need to provide customs on arrival with passport copies of crew carrying the equipment, a letter with serial numbers and value of main equipment, and your filming permit. Sometimes this works, sometimes you need to fill out a customs form and provide 5% of the value of your equipment as downpayment in US dollars, which is simply returned to you on departure from Dubai. And sometimes you’re just waved through. Things get very confusing when you come into Dubai but leave from another Emirate, as they often have entirely different customs systems. Ensure that you get Carnet stamped again upon exit. There are only customs areas in the Arrivals section and the process takes around 30 minutes.
Do I need a permit before entering the UAE?
If you are bringing in specialized/oversized equipment on your flight into the UAE, the customs could hold it until you bring back a permit to release the equipment. This is more for commercial sized work and not a hassle with say 2-3 DSLRs and some lens. The permit ensures you are not bringing all this equipment to resell and that you will take it back once your work is complete.
Are the media shooting requirements the same for all the Emirates across the UAE?
The Dubai Film and TV Commission arranges permission for local production companies, and has the authority to get permits for all Emirates except Sharjah & Abu Dhabi. Abu Dhabi Film Commission handles permissions there, which can take 5 working days, and even longer for aerials. For permission to shoot in Sharjah, a letter needs to be taken to their Media Council for approval, which can take time.
What do I get with my permit?
Your permit entitles you to shoot on the dates of the locations you have asked for. As you are our guest; we will appoint an account manager that will be with you on the days of the shooting to ensure you are not burdened with dealing with officials to show permits when you are losing valuable shots. By arranging the permits through D-SEVEN Motion Pictures, we ensure faster operations and hassle free shoots.
Is it possible to film inside the Burj Khalifa / Burj Mall / Airport?
Malls and hotels are owned by private companies and major attractions are owned by the government. Locations fees for private areas can be exorbitant, but D-SEVEN Motion Pictures has a long standing relationship with mostly all locations as we have filmed there many times and we guarantee our rates cannot be beaten.
What are the chances of having my permit rejected?
It’s very unlikely your permission will be rejected when it’s a commercial shoot; news and documentary can be subject to more checks. Generally it’s fine as long as you keep to the morals and standards of the United Arab Emirates, and your shoot is generally positive about the UAE and GCC area.
How often is my permit checked?
As in any country this depends on whether you’re noticed by anyone in authority – it does happen but is never an issue as long as you have the permit on you. It’s best to ensure the cameraman has a copy in his pocket if possible. In private locations there are security that stop you very quickly.
I want to film in a mosque.
You can film in mosques here, but ensure that you have all the permissions you need, and talk to the Imam of the mosque beforehand. Ensure that you are somewhere discreet if filming anybody praying, it is rude to disturb them.
What will happen if I am caught without a permit?
We are privileged to be in a country with great surroundings, low crime rate, and great sense of security. The purpose of the permit is to ensure we do no harm to the environment, public, and/or our crew and avoid unnecessary hassles if checked. In the event you are caught, your equipment can be confiscated and all footage could be asked to be deleted (the officials do know how to format camera cards) and your passport confiscated, depending on the circumstance.
What is the turn around time for obtaining a permit?
The whole process takes from 3 – 5 days if there are no special circumstances or events overlapping government processes. Aerial permits do tend to take longer.
Am I able to close roads and buildings for example?
This is possible but you will need to plan this far in advance and obtain full permission from the government. Any shoot involving road closures would be best arranged on a morning Friday.
Can I film on Dubai Metro?
Yes, but only with permission from the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA). They have guards on every train so you will be stopped.
Can I just bring a little camera and film guerilla-style?
We wouldn’t recommend it. We know where the ‘red lines’ are about shooting here and won’t be able to help you if you’re caught shooting something you shouldn’t.
Can D-SEVEN Motion Pictures arrange permissions for me to shoot in the UAE?
It would be our pleasure to assist your production and make the arrangements necessary to carry out smooth operations, please contact us through email with the following details:
- Purpose of shooting
- Production license from country of origin
- Dates and locations of shootings
- Crew members names and passport scans
- Possible equipment required
What is cost of the filming / photography permit?
The price is dependent upon the locations, number of days and size of your production. We try to ensure you get the lowest rates with our years of experience in the industry.
Is it really sunny all year round?
It rains approximately 5-6 days a year, and has occasional sandstorms, but apart from that it’s sunny all day.
Is there a danger to filming in the heat?
The mercury level goes above 40 and remains there during the summer months of June to September so the heat should not be underestimated. However, much filming takes place incident free in the UAE during summertime. The basic rules of avoiding heat exhaustion apply, if you do not take regular drinks you will definitely get ill. You should drink at regular intervals even if you do not feel thirsty. You need to drink approximately 2 litres of water a day if you’re outside. You also need to take on board rehydration salts to help counteract the effects of this. Sun cream lasts for about 2-3 hours regardless of factor. Equipment breakdowns are rare, but do ensure you have enough shade for your kit as well as your crew.
Can I film in the summer?
Yes you can, but there are rules that you need to stick to to ensure that crew remain safe in the high temperatures. Try to schedule days that are mostly inside with a few bits outside in the early morning and late evening.