Dubai working to attract more shoots



DUBAI, United Arab Emirates -- Dubai movie mavens are considering how to boost incentives so that more international film shoots set up shop in the emirate.

So said Amina Al Rustamani, the executive director of Dubai Media, the entity that oversees both Dubai Media City and Dubai Studio City. She spoke to The Hollywood Reporter about the efforts on the part of the emirate to encourage foreign film investment as well as the fledgling local industry.

Al Rustamani said that she and her team have "looked at" various incentive and subsidy schemes in Canada, the U.S. and Europe and were considering variations thereof in order to tie up some big foreign projects that are considering locating in the region.

"We want to attract productions from Hollywood, Bollywood and Europe, and we are offering all sorts of attractive options so that they do so," she said. Among them she mentioned the office at DSC, which handles all the necessary permits and cuts through red tape for foreign filmers.

She said that the office has handled 780 permit applications this year, practically double the number in 2006.

As for the upcoming films that might set up shop on any of the 14 sound stages under construction at DSC, Al Rustamani would not be specific, but she did say there are already several "soft reservations" though nothing signed on the bottom line. The stages will be ready by the end of 2008.

The executive director also put the emphasis on "film as a tool of tourism" because foreign filmmakers obviously spend money and hire locals wherever they set up -- and spread the good word if things go well.

About efforts to stimulate local producers, Al Rustamani stressed that young filmmakers in the region definitely need "the right platform" to express their creative voices, but that there is a "code of guidelines" that they must follow in what they produce here in the emirates.