Your guide to obtaining a film permit in the UAE


‌There has never been a more exciting time to film in Abu Dhabi. Having featured in iconic Hollywood franchises such as Dune, Star Wars, Fast and Furious and Mission Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part 1, Bollywood hits Tiger Zinda Hai and Bharat, Saudi feature film Ras B Ras and Arabic TV series Haramlek, Abu Dhabi’s status as a global epicenter for filmmaking is rising fast.

This summer, twofour54 announced plans to create a new 100-acre studio complex. Set to open in 2025, twofour54 studios will contain 11 state-of-the-art soundstages, adaptable sets, office spaces, as well as other cutting-edge film and TV facilities for production, post-production and screenings.

Already home to the biggest backlot of its kind in the Middle East and multiple studios, soundstages, screening rooms and much more, filming at twofour54 in Abu Dhabi is a thrilling, enriching and rewarding process.

However, in order to legally film in Abu Dhabi, you first need to obtain a filming permit for the UAE. In this blog, we will take a deep dive into the permits required for filming in Abu Dhabi, how twofour54 can help you to get your permits, and the specific advantages of using our incredible facilities.

What permits do you need to film in the UAE?

Home to The Empty Quarter, the world’s largest uninterrupted landmass, futuristic architecture, white sand beaches and sparkling blue ocean, Abu Dhabi is a paradise for filmmakers who are looking for impressive, memorable and versatile filming locations. But, before you can begin filming in the fascinating emirate of Abu Dhabi, there are a few legal permits that you need to obtain first.

Script approval

Before you can get a filming permit for the UAE, you first need to get a Media Regulatory Office (MRO) Script Approval from the Ministry of Culture & Youth. This process checks that nothing in the script content goes against Abu Dhabi’s rules, regulations and cultural guidelines.

Ground Filming Permit

Once the Media Regulatory Office (MRO) Script Approval has been confirmed, the next step is to apply for a Ground Filming Permit. A Ground Filming Permit is required for all filming projects taking place in the Abu Dhabi, Al Ain and Al Dhafra regions. You must list all the specific places you want to use in your application, and a location agreement must be signed for each private location.

Aerial Filming Permit

If you want to film your stunts and scenes from up in the air, you will also need an Aerial Filming Permit. This requires approval from two government authorities. First you need to submit a request to get an NOC from the MRO, and then apply for an Aerial Permit from the General Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA). This is the governing body that controls flight and drones/un-manned aerial vehicles (UAV) in the Abu Dhabi, Al Ain and Al Dhafra regions.

Why twofour54 offers the easiest way to get film permits in the UAE

You can apply for your script approvals and film permits independently. However, this involves navigating various different websites, government departments and applications. Alternatively, twofour54 offers an easy and simple way of getting legal permission to film in Abu Dhabi.

Tawasol, our business support department, doesn’t just cater to twofour54 companies and freelancers. Its wide array of services are also available for production companies that are filming in Abu Dhabi, and businesses based in the UAE capital.

Apply for everything on one seamless platform

With Tawasol, you can submit requests for government paperwork, travel documents, and visa services all in one place. Tawasol’s efficient platform allows you to pay for all your services online, and track the progress of your applications every step of the way.

Quick and simple processes

Our dedicated team liaises on your behalf with government authorities throughout the UAE. This can vastly reduce transaction times and speed up the approvals of your script and permits. For example, when applying for your script approval with Tawasol, you just need to follow a few simple steps:

  • Submit your full script in Arabic and English
  • Highlight the scenes that will be shot in Abu Dhabi
  • Complete the application form
  • Submit the form to your assigned twofour54 production manager
  • Wait 15 to 20 days for your approval application to be processed

Benefits of filming at twofour54 facilities

All-encompassing business support

Along with allowing you to receive your filming permits for the UAE as quickly as possible, the Tawasol team are also on hand to assist with applying for visas for your cast and crew, travel and accommodation, production logistics, transportation, catering options and much more.

30% cashback rebate

The Abu Dhabi Film Commission offers a generous 30% cashback rebate on qualifying production expenditure in the UAE capital. The rebate is applicable to feature films, television dramas, commercials, music videos, and other television formats.

Global talents 

Our in-house crew is made up of a diverse and driven group of multilingual talents. No matter what kind of project you are working on, we have the creatives who can bring it to life. In addition, twofour54 works with a network of over 900 brilliant freelancers who specialize in production and post-production, and our dedicated Freelance Relations team are always on hand to help you find the perfect candidates for your film.

Production services

We offer a one-stop shop for high-quality production services to ensure that your filming process runs smoothly from start to finish. Alongside the services offered by Tawasol, we also offer assistance with:

  • Location filming in Abu Dhabi, Al Ain and Liwa
  • Production planning
  • Location scouting
  • Pre-production
  • Crewing
  • Casting
  • Equipment rentals
  • Set construction
  • Production office rentals
  • Consultants
  • Production
  • Accounting and legal

World-class facilities 

As mentioned above, twofour54 is home to an extraordinary array of production facilities. Depicting an amazingly realistic desert landscape, our world-famous backlot  can be turned into a bustling marketplace, an Arabian Neighborhood, and many more enchanting scenes. It also comes complete with:

  • 300,000 sqm of open desert land
  • 219,000+ sqm of construction space
  • 81,000+ sqm of ready-made sets
  • A fully equipped sound stage
  • Hair and make-up rooms, dressing rooms and production offices
  • A large canteen
  • A dedicated support team

Alongside the backlot, production companies can also make use of our seven broadcast studios, 1,400 sqm sound stage, screening room and many more modern and technology-driven production facilities. To find out more about getting film permits through twofour54 and our production facilities, please visit our production services page