Why is it necessary to get a film permit before filming in the UAE?

15 Feb


Why is it necessary to get a film permit before filming in the UAE?

Filming in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) is an exciting and rewarding experience. However, it’s essential to know that filming without a film permit is illegal and punishable by law. 

The UAE is one of the top countries to film due to its beautiful landscapes, stunning architecture, and various locations available for filming. 

However, without a permit for shooting your movie or commercial project in Dubai or Abu Dhabi, you could face several penalties for breaching this requirement. 

Here’s everything you need to know about getting a film permit before filming in the UAE.

What is a film permit?

A film permit is a licence that allows filming in a particular area. It is issued by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism (MCT) and must be applied after meeting specific requirements.

Who needs a permit?

Anyone who wants to conduct film or television production activities in any part of the UAE needs to obtain a Film Permit. 

It includes foreign companies looking to film in Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Fujairah, Ras Al Khaimah, or Umm Al Quwain, as well as local companies conducting work outside these areas but still within UAE territories such as Ajman, Sharjah, or Fujairah.

Getting a filming permit in Dubai

The Dubai Film Commission is the government body that issues filming permits. Therefore, if you want to film in Dubai, you will need to apply for a filming permit from them before beginning any production.

You can apply for a filming permit by filling out an application form online. The form will ask you for information about your films, such as the genre and synopsis. 

Why should I obtain a film permit to shoot in the UAE?

Before producing a film in Dubai, obtaining a film permit from the Ministry of Culture and Knowledge Development is necessary. It is because filming or taking photos in public areas such as malls and streets requires special permission from the government.

Film permits are also needed for filming in private places such as homes and offices. If you plan on shooting your movie at a location where people live or work, then you must get permission from them before filming there.

Filming on bridges requires additional safety measures because they are more likely to collapse due to high winds than other structures like buildings; therefore, obtaining an extra permit will allow you access without risking anyone’s safety.

Preservation of the Emirati values and culture

The government established a licensing system for video recording and photography to protect the Emirate values and culture of the country, its people. In that context, any film promoting nudism or offensive content is prohibited in the UAE.  

The law also aims to protect privacy rights in addition to protecting against defamation. Without a licence, you risk hefty fines or even imprisonment if you violate these rules.

How long does it take to process a filming permit in Dubai?

The process of obtaining a filming permit takes five business days after successful submission of the permit application. However, the waiting period may vary, depending on the type of filming and location. If you are filming in a public place, it will take much longer than a private residence.

Suppose the film is being shot at one of Dubai’s iconic landmarks, such as Burj Khalifa or Palm Jumeirah. In that case, approval may need to come from several authorities, including the Dubai Municipality and Environment Agency (DEWA), the Department of Economic Development (DED) as well as the Public Works Department (PWD). In this case, you should expect your permit to take longer than usual - up to 10 days.

If your film is set somewhere else within Dubai, besides the two locations listed above, then fewer permissions are required for you to get your permit processed quickly.

Also Read: How to Get a Film Permit for Commercial Photography and Filming in the UAE?

Important things to remember 

Filmmakers too unilaterally focused on film creatives often fail to consider the essential requirement before filming in Dubai - or anywhere else in the UAE.

One of the most important things to address before beginning any kind of shoot is to get a film permit from the Media Licensing Department (MLD) at Dubai Media City (DMC). You can do it online via UAEFilmPermit

Once your application has been approved and processed, you will get an official permit that includes information about the companies who used the said location before and the type of films shot by them. The permit also lists the restrictions while filming on public property, such as streets or highways.

If the permit is not acquired before the filming, penalties can be heavy fines per day spent filming without this documentation.

Filming without a film permit

Having no film permit and still filming is an offence, Filmmakers who fail to comply with this legal processing are penalised or imprisoned. In some cases, filming without a permit could also lead to imprisonment and fines. 

You can avoid any legal trouble or penalties that could come up as a result of filming without one by following a simple process of application.

Do you want to get your film permit easily?

Getting a filming permit can be a lengthy and complicated process but we can make it easy for you. Our team at UAE Film Permit allows you to focus on the creative aspects of filmmaking without many legal convolutions. We assist you through every step of the process from successful application and crew hire to location scouting, custom clearance, and catering.


Filming in the UAE has never been easier. The country offers a rich blend of culture, art, and modern landscapes, unlocking immense filming opportunities for filmmakers across the world. Unlock the first step to exploring the filmmaking potential of the UAE. Apply for your film permit by collaborating with an experienced local entity like the UAE Film Permit. To know more about our deliverables and services, contact us today.