Best desert filming locations in Abu Dhabi

Desert in Abu Dhabi

Here in Abu Dhabi, we’re lucky enough to be completely surrounded by one of the coolest natural film sets imaginable: the desert.

Whether you’re filming an Arabian-themed drama, an adrenaline-filled war thriller or a sci-fi masterpiece set on an undiscovered planet thousands of light-years away, the desert provides the perfect natural backdrop.

Wondering where you can find the best desert filming locations in the UAE?

Well, we’ve put together a handy guide for you below.


The three best desert filming locations in the UAE



Liwa desert lies towards the eastern edge of the Rub’ al Khali, the world’s largest uninterrupted sand mass.

Breathtakingly beautiful, the endless expanse of ethereal plains and rolling dunes is one of the most amazing natural landscapes in the world, and once you find out which iconic, legendary movie franchise was filmed here, it suddenly becomes even more impressive.

Try to control your excitement movie fanatics; the mighty Star Wars was actually filmed in Liwa desert.

That’s right, Liwa can be seen in several scenes from Episode Seven of the franchise, Star Wars: The Force Awakens, with the towering sand dunes used to depict the planet of Jakku to great effect.

It’s these mighty mountains of sand that draw dune bashers to the Liwa Festival every year, where adrenaline seekers gather to try and take on the infamous, 300m Moreeb dune. Coincidently, this expanse of desert is also a favourite setting for films about fast cars. Furious 7, sees Vin Diesal and co blast through the golden-red mounds of Liwa in their super-flash sport cars, whilst big-budget Indian movie Race 3 also features a dramatic drive through the very same desert.


Al Khatim

While Liwa might be the most famous of the UAE’s deserts, Al Khatim retains a unique kind of charm and plenty of dramatic scenery to base your film around.

The most famous spot in this Abu Dhabi desert is the mesmerising Al Khatim Desert Road, found between the UAE capital and the peaceful city of Al Ain.

Stretching into the distance with the wild expanse of the desert on either side, it’s an almost eery, absolutely enrapturing vision to behold.

While it might not have featured in as many Hollywood blockbusters as some of the other parts of the country, it absolutely deserves a top spot in any list of the best desert filming locations in the UAE.



Found out towards the borders of Al Ain and Dubai, Sweihan is known as “Little Liwa”.

Its big dunes, soft sands and roaming camels, oryx and gazelles make it a stunningly picturesque desert film set for a cinematic masterpiece. But be warned, the remote location means you’ll almost certainly need an expert guide to help you get there, plus a good 4×4 and a very skilled driver.

A spot for expert off roaders only, you’ll again find some utterly amazing, and very enormous, natural ridges of sand (the most spectacular is known locally as Naqrah), plus plenty of glorious spots to watch the sun set.

Basically, wherever you go in the UAE, you’ll find some absolutely breathtaking and totally inspiring ready-made desert film sets.

Once you’ve chosen your location, we can also help you by providing studio space, post-production facilities, expert crew, filming permits and even assistance with organising travel and logistics.

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