Location division aims for 'one-stop shop'

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COMPLETE DUBAI FEST COVERAGE

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates -- The Location Approval Services Department (LAS), a division of Dubai Studio City, has quickly become an effective facilitator for international and local filmmakers hoping to shoot in and around the Emirates.

Adel Ibrahim, manager of the department, said LAS is intended to be a "one-stop shop" for all aspects of film production, including location scouting, shooting permits, visas, accommodation and even airline bookings for talent and crew.

Despite being being only a little over two years old, LAS already is beginning to provide the infrastructure that needs to exist if Dubai is going to achieve its goal of becoming a presence on the global film scene.

"For the first year, we did well by processing 112 applications," Ibrahim said. "In 2006, we hoped to get 250 applications, but we actually closed out 352. This year, to date, we are at 790."

As a result of a decree issued by the Dubai Executive Council in May, LAS is the only organization in Dubai authorized to handle all necessary approvals and permits for filming across the UAE.

"Before, filmmakers had to go to other government agencies -- Dubai tourism, Dubai police, etc.," Ibrahim continued. "But now we are the government contact for any shooting in Dubai. This cuts down considerably on red tape."

LAS works hand in hand with Dubai Studio City, the all-purpose 22 million-square-foot production facility currently under construction. Together LAS and DSC hope to create a thriving hub for production activity that can rival any in the world.

"Film is a new industry in this region," Ibrahim added. "We are trying to market this place as a global film destination. It will take time, but we are already making great progress."
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