UAE Filmmaking beyond Arabization, cosmopolitanism, and exceptionalism

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More than 60 feature‑length narrative films have been produced in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) since the first in 1988. Few, however, have generated an excitement to suggest Emirati filmmaking may become popular culture. The first supported by the state‑owned media company, Image Nation Abu Dhabi, was Djinn (2013), staged local folklore of a female djinn under the direction of a Hollywood filmmaker. It was lampooned by critics and largely ignored by audiences. This article considers how and when Emirati filmmaking might become part of a UAE film culture by revaluating frameworks that define UAE film audiences and by comparing two films that feature Emirati citizens, alongside Arab, European, and South Asian expatriates to move discussions beyond Arabization, cosmopolitanism, and exceptionalism.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Number of pages27
JournalArabian Humanities
StatePublished - 2020


  • migration
  • United Arab Emirates
  • cosmopolitanism
  • Middle Eastern cinema
  • Arab cinema
  • Persian Gulf
  • South Asian cinema


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