So you’ve decided to film in Dubai? Welcome! (or in Arabic, “Marhaba!”) I’ve been working for almost ten years in the UAE as a location producer, with clients from all over the world, ranging from the BBC and CNN to Japan’s NHK- with all sorts in between! Here are a few tips based on years of happy shoots (and some mishaps!)

- Eve Hester Wyne

You will need filming permits to cover exact dates, times, and specific areas. Please don’t even think of turning up in Dubai with a camera crew and no permits. You won’t be allowed to film without the correct paperwork, so don’t take the risk- it could cost your company a lot in terms of wasted resources.

You’ll need a UAE-based company to offer production support. Filming permits can only be processed through a local company. There are many reputable companies here who provide an excellent service. Yes, they’ll charge you- but they will have to do quite a lot of legwork on your behalf.

Usually regulations state that a representative from the local company has to be with your crew at all times. I’ve found the easiest way to manage this is to employ a driver from the UAE-based company. You kill two birds with one stone- by getting a knowledgeable driver and ticking the regulation box.

Get yourself organized well in advance. The process for applying for filming permits can take up to two weeks; and that’s after you’ve submitted your completed dossier. Get working on the application process a month before you plan to start filming.

Be prepared to do quite a bit of paperwork before you step on a plane. You’ll have to put together a dossier including passport copies of everyone on the crew, an exhaustive equipment list and supporting documentation from the host client/broadcaster. These will all have to be submitted by your “host” production company.

When you’ve done all this work, the Film Board will issue you with your filming permit. They will also give you a customs letter which you’ll need in order to get your kit through the airport when you arrive.

There’s been a bit of debate about whether or not you “need” an ATA carnet to enter the UAE with camera equipment. I’ll address this in detail in another post, but essentially, yes you do.

More anon. Happy filming!