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2017 | OriginalPaper | Chapter

8. Locating Emirati Filmmaking within Globalizing Media Ecologies

Author : Dale Hudson

Published in: Media in the Middle East

Publisher: Springer International Publishing


Emirati filmmakers have produced more than 40 features since 1989. This chapter situates the question of locating Emirati filmmaking within the context of competing expectations about audience, drawing upon conventional models used throughout the MENASA regions alongside indigenous media, Nollywood, and Hallyuwood, arguing that the UAE opens our understanding of the broader region in relation to media industries and cultures.

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Historical examples of such denials of non-Western modernities include mid-twentieth-century misperceptions that the early narrative films of Satyajit Ray and Ousmane Sembène were documentaries. See, for example, Chandak Sengoopta, “‘The Universal Film for All of Us, Everywhere in the World’: Satyajit Ray’s Pather Panchali (1955) and the Shadow of Robert Flaherty,” Historical Journal of Film, Radio and Television 29.3 (September 2009) 277–293 and essays in Ousmane Sembène: Dialogue with Critics and Writers, eds. Samba Gadjigo, Ralph Faulkingham, Thomas Cassirer, and Reinhard Sander (Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 1993).
Arjun Appadurai, Modernity at Large: Cultural Dimensions of Globalization (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1995).
Viola Shafik, Arab Cinema: History and Cultural Identity (1998/2007), revised edition (New York: Oxford University Press, 2016); Companion Encyclopedia of Middle Eastern and North African Film, ed. Oliver Leaman (London: Routledge, 2001); Roy Armes, Postcolonial Images: Studies in North African Film (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2005); The Cinema of North Africa and the Middle East, ed. Gönül Dönmez-Colin (London: Wallflower, 2007); Lina Khatib, Filming the Modern Middle East: Politics in the Cinemas of Hollywood and the Arab World (London: I.B. Tauris, 2009); Film in the Middle East and North Africa: Creative Dissidence, ed. Josef Gugler (Austin: University of Texas Press, 2011); Gayatri Devi, Humor in Middle Eastern Cinema (Detroit: Wayne State University Press, 2014); Roy Armes, New Voices in Arab Cinema (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2015); Ten Arab Filmmakers: Political Dissent and Social Critique, ed. Josef Gugler (Austin: University of Texas Press, 2015); Kamran Rastegar, Surviving Images: Cinema, War, and Cultural Memory in the Middle East (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2015).
ADFF was initially branded as the Middle East International Film Festival (MEIFF).
ADFF and the NYUAD Institute collaborated on six film series between 2011 and 2014. The NYUADI regularly screens an Emirati feature during the first month of its annual program.
For examples of such responses, see: Nadeem Hanif, “Abu Dhabi Film Festival Closure Met with Shock,” The National (07 May 2015): http://​www.​thenational.​ae/​uae/​abu-dhabi-film-festival-closure-met-with-shock; Nick Vivarelli, “Abu Dhabi Film Festival Scrapped After Eight Editions,” Variety (07 May 2015): http://​variety.​com/​2015/​film/​festivals/​abu-dhabi-film-festival-scrapped-after-eight-editions-1201489683/​.
“A Word about Minaa,” Minaa website (n.d.; accessed 06 June 2016): http://​minaa.​org/​about.
Homepage, Support Arab Cinema website (n.d.; accessed 06 June 2016): http://​supportarabcinem​a.​com/​en/​.
Homepage, Aflamnah website (n.d.; accessed 06 June 2016): https://​www.​aflamnah.​com/​.
Protests by the artist/activist collective Gulf Labor over the living and working conditions for migrant laborers on the future construction of a Guggenheim Museum are organized around reorienting neoliberal discourses of branding to counter neoliberal practices of flexible labor. Andrew Ross describes the tactical maneuvers the Gulf Labor Coalition in “Leveraging the Brand: A History of Gulf Labor,” in his edited volume The Gulf: High Culture/Hard Labor (New York: OR Books, 2015): 11–35.
According to the World Bank, Qatar ranks number one in terms of GNI according to the purchasing power parity (PPP) method in 2014; Kuwait, six; UAE, eight; and Bahrain, 39. For comparison, the United States ranks 16; Russia, 63; China (exclusive of Macau and Hong Kong), 105, and India, 148.
Citizenship is granted automatically to children with Emirati or stateless fathers. Children with Emirati mothers can apply for citizenship at majority.
In World Politics Since 1945, 9th edition (London: Routledge, 2013), Peter Calvocoressi defines OPEC states as a “Fourth World” insofar as “wealth distinguishes them dramatically from the world’s poor” yet “solidarity enabled them to play a forceful role in international affairs” (781) through oil pricing during the 1970s.
The Abu Dhabi Tourism and Culture Authority (TCA) announced geographical rebranding from “Middle East” to “Arabian Peninsula,” seen as more attractive in customer surveys. Craig Platt, “Abu Dhabi Tourism: Tourism Body No Longer Wants to be Associated with ‘Middle East’,” Traveller (08 September 2016): http://​www.​traveller.​com.​au/​abu-dhabi-tourism-tourism-body-no-longer-wants-to-be-associated-with-middle-east-grbsvl#ixzz4Kis2CkaW.
See: Stephen Crofts, “Reconceptualizing National Cinema/s,” Quarterly Review of Film and Video 14.3 (1993): 49–67.
Shahnaz Khan, “Consumer Citizens and Troubling Desires: Reading Hindi Cinema in Pakistan,” Studies in South Asian Film & Media 3.2 (November 2012): 66. Khan draws upon Brian Larkin’s work on Bollywood’s popularity with Nigerian audiences, as well as Arjun Appadurai and Carol Breckenridge’s work on modernities.
Madhava Prasad, Ideology of the Hindi Film: A Historical Construction (New Delhi: Oxford University Press, 1998).
For a discussion of Saudi web series, see: Dale Hudson and Patricia R. Zimmermann, Thinking through Digital Media: Transnational Environments and Locative Places (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2015), 156–160.
Lila Abu-Lughod, Do Muslim Women Need Saving? (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2013).
Orientalism (New York: Pantheon, 1978); The Question of Palestine (New York: Vintage, 1979/1992); Covering Islam: How the Media and the Experts Determine How We See the Rest of the World (New York: Pantheon, 1981/1997).
Ella Shohat, “Area Studies, Transnationalism, and the Feminist Production of Knowledge,” Signs 26:4 (2001): 1270.
In the context of the United States, “white feminism” refers to non-intersectional feminism that universalizes the experiences of white, straight, cisgender females over the experiences of women of color and queer women, thus rejecting or overlooking the significance of intersectionality. The term joins comparable ones—mainstream feminism, first-wave feminism—yet marks the racial dimension of white privilege that allows white women to benefited disproportionately from Affirmative Action policies. In a transnational context, white feminism can be linked to global capitalism and cultural imperialism.
The film is cited as an example of one that did well at the box office despite negative reviews in Glyn Davis, Kay Dickinson, Lisa Patti, and Amy Villarejo, Film Studies: A Global Introduction (New York: Routledge, 2015): 356–357.
Jasbir K. Puar, Terrorist Assemblages: Homonationalism in Queer Times (Durham: Duke University Press, 2007).
For a historical analysis of homoerotic orientalism that informs the queered and feminist orientations of the film, see: Joseph Allen Boone, The Homoerotics of Orientalism (New York: Columbia University Press, 2014).
For an analysis of the limiting vision of positive images, see Ella Shohat/Robert Stam, Unthinking Eurocentrism: Multiculturalism and the Media (1994; New York: Routledge, 2014), 178–219.
The notion of “selling back orientalism” is developed in the documentary Mariano Fortuny y la lámpara maravillosa/Fortuny and the Magic Lantern (Spain 2010; dir. Claudio Zulian) in relation to the use of Fortuny’s orientalist lamps in Indian restaurants, catering to European tourists and expatriates, in Dubai.
Rajeswari Sunder Rajan and You-me Park, “Postcolonial Feminism/Postcolonialism and Feminism,” in Henry Schwartz and Sangeeta Ray (eds.), A Companion to Postcolonial Studies (Malden, MA: Blackwell, 2000), 63–64.
Examples of such academic studies include: Christopher Davidson, Abu Dhabi: Oil and Beyond (New York: Columbia University Press, 2009); Ahmed Kanna, Dubai: The City as Corporation (Minnesota: University of Minnesota Press, 2011); and Neha Vora, Impossible Citizens: Dubai’s Indian Diaspora (Durham: Duke University Press, 2013).
Bernard Lewis, “The Roots of Muslim Rage,” The Atlantic Monthly (1990): 47–60.
The UAE National Bureau of Statistics does not publish census data by nationality. For 2015 population statistics, see: “UAE’s Population—by Nationality,” bq magazine (12 April 2015): http://​www.​bqdoha.​com/​2015/​04/​uae-population-by-nationality.
Mette Hjort and Duncan Petrie, “Introduction,” in Hjort and Petrie (eds.), The Cinema of Small Nations (Indianapolis: Indiana University Press, 2007), 1–19.
See Kim Tan and Jeremy Fernando, “Singapore,” and Duncan Petrie, “New Zealand,” in Hjort and Petrie (eds.), The Cinema of Small Nations (Indianapolis: Indiana University Press, 2007), 127, 168. On Singapore, also see David Birch, “Film and Cinema in Singapore: Cultural Policy as Control,” in Albert Moran (ed.), Film Policy: International, National and Regional Perspectives (New York: Routledge, 1996), 181–206. He examines tensions between modernity and so-called Asian values, as well as Singapore’s investment in infrastructure to facilitate synergy and social control.
Kim Tan and Fernando, “Singapore,” 128. They add a third category of “ambivalent nationalism” (129).
Ibid., 128.
Efforts to make the term more inclusive include: Pheng Cheah and Bruce Robbins (eds.), Cosmopolitics: Thinking and Feeling beyond the Nation (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1998); Sheldon Pollock, Homi K. Bhabha, Carol A. Breckenridge, and Dipesh Chakrabarty. “Cosmopolitanisms.” Public Culture 12.3 (fall 2000): 1–14; Eduardo Mendieta, “From Imperial to Dialogical Cosmopolitanism,” Ethics & Global Politics 2. 3 (2009): 241–258; and Arjun Appadurai, “Cosmopolitanism from Below: Some Ethical Lessons from the Slums of Mumbai,” The Salon 4 (2011): 32–43.
Kim Tan and Fernando, “Singapore,” 140.
Ibid., 133.
For a discussion of CAMP, see: Dale Hudson and Patricia R. Zimmermann, Thinking through Digital Media: Transnational Environments and Locative Places (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2015), 227–231.
An example is the “salary portraits” in Skyscrapers and Shadows (2010). Kristin Giordano and Andrew Gardner photographed South Asian, Southeast Asian, and African migrants on a Qatari beach, holding signs that indicated their monthly salaries in US dollars. Intended to evoke shock and outrage, the portraits inadvertently reproduce visual strategies in rank-based scientific classification that translated eugenics into colonial photography, as well as practices of classifying prisoners and the mentally ill. The project also included glass display boxes with items donated by migrant workers that enhanced the voyeuristic lens. These portions of the project were not included in most exhibitions.
Petrie, “New Zealand,” 161, 168–169.
Ibid., 168.
Dale Hudson, review of Lamma Shoftak/When I Saw You (Jordan-Palestine-UAE-Greece 2012; dir. Annemarie Jacir), Jadaliyya (22 March 2013): www.​jadaliyya.​com/​pages/​index/​10743/​when-i-saw-you.
Matthew MacLean, “Resident Expert: What Drives National Identity?” interview in Salaam, New York University Abu Dhabi (26 July 2015): http://​nyuad.​nyu.​edu/​en/​news/​research-innovation/​2015/​07/​resident-expert--what-drives-national-identity-.​html.
Pierre Barrot, Nollywood: The Video Phenomenon in Nigeria (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2009).
Roy Stafford, The Global Film Book (London: Routledge, 2014), 143–144.
“Arab Stereotypes: The Eternal Enemy” (interview with Jack Shaheen), Qatar Today (November 2013): 84–85. Shaheen is best known in this regard for his book Reel Bad Arabs: How Hollywood Vilifies a People, updated version (Olive Branch Press, 2009).
Juan Francisco Salazar and Amalia Córdova, “Imperfect Media and the Politics of Indigenous Video in Latin America,” in Global Indigenous Media: Cultures, Poetics, and Politics, eds. Wilson and Stewart (Durham: Duke University Press, 2008), 39–57.
European cultural institutions often program Emirati shorts before their own feature films, such as the Goethe-Institut’s Heritage Film Festival.
These figures are quoted on The Numbers: Where Data and the Movie Business Meet (no date): http://​www.​the-numbers.​com/​movie/​Furious-7.
Alia Yunis, “Film as National Building: The UAE Goes into the Movie Business,” CINEJ Cinema Journal 3.2 (2014): 57–59.
Yunis, “Film as National Building,” 68.
“Mawaheb Overview,” Image Nation website (2015): http://​imagenationabudh​abi.​com/​en/​mawaheb/​overview-mawaheb/​.
Locating Emirati Filmmaking within Globalizing Media Ecologies
Dale Hudson
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