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Abu Dhabi: from Fast & Furious to Top Gear

The UAE capital has put its foot on the accelerator when it comes to attracting international film and TV productions, with the hit BBC series Top Gear becoming the latest to take advantage of Abu Dhabi Film Commission’s 30 per cent rebate.

That comes as the media group behind the shoots — twofour54 — confirmed Fast & Furious 7 will still film in the UAE.

The global hit British car show filmed in Abu Dhabi earlier this year, for two car reviews by the show’s presenter, Richard Hammond. The first of the episodes, in which Hammond test drives a six-wheeled Mercedes G63 in the dunes of the Western Region, airs on OSN First HD on Sunday night at 9pm. The next episode, which sees Hammond taking Porsche’s hybrid supercar, the 918 Spyder, around the track of the Yas Marina Circuit, airs at the same time on Sunday March 16.

“More than a year ago we announced our 30 per cent rebate on production in Abu Dhabi,” Noura Al Kaabi, CEO of TV and film services provider twofour54 told tabloid!. “Since that date the team has been travelling and spreading awareness on how Abu Dhabi has locations, and facilitation of those locations, and also providing them with a team.”

For Top Gear, and all productions, that team has included Emirati graduates of twofour54’s Intaj training programme — on the Top Gear episodes it was Salwa Al Hadhrami, a production executive.

Fast & Furious 7 had been due to film in Abu Dhabi in January, but the November death of lead actor Paul Walker meant production on the film as a whole has been pushed back. However, says Noura, “we will definitely know from Universal Studios when they will be coming to Abu Dhabi and starting the shoot. We are waiting, it’s definitely going ahead, but I can’t talk about it yet, unfortunately.”

Twofour54 is also in talks with Indian production houses, added Noura, and has another international production coming up this year. But perhaps the biggest project in the pipeline is 100 episodes of Syrian TV show The Brother, the second Syrian production to take advantage of the rebate and the stability that Abu Dhabi locations offer, after 2013’s Hammam Shami.

“We are working on a Syrian drama, it will be 100 episodes. It’s called The Brother, and it will be filmed in Saadiyat Island. I’m glad that we are supporting Syrian drama,” said Noura.