The article and artwork is by Marwah Fuad, you can find similar articles on

Throughout history, the film industry did not have great influence on the tourism industry. By the 20th century, which was the prosperous era for filmmaking; tourism marketers started to collaborate with filmmakers to utilize their movies in certain cities; featuring famous attractions for the purpose of increasing awareness about these particular cities. This strategy is still used in many movies from different countries: like James Bond, which pushed tourism in more than 15 destination including England. James Bond had influence on one of these destinations that it was filmed in, which is a Thai island that was later named after the series, and turned to be today a hot attraction for tourists. There are many movies that went on this path; Mamma Mia promoted the island of Skiathos in Greece, Lord of the Rings and the Hobbit promoted New Zealand, Harry Potter promoted England, Mission Impossible 2 promoted Australia, Frozen promoted Norway, and many more.

Fortunately, Dubai and Abu Dhabi are also on the list with movies such as Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Dishoom, Welcome Back, Star Trek, Kung Fu Yoga, War Machine and more. Bollywood has been focusing a lot lately on filming in Abu Dhabi and Dubai. These movies attracted many Indian investors to move and work here, making the film industry a powerful tool for the UAE to attract even more tourists and expats to come over.

Lately we have been exposed, by choice or by coincidence, to many drama shows that influenced our lifestyles and seeded in us the desire to travel to the show’s country; Turkey and Korea are mostly known for that. However, both countries are not only growing their tourism profits this way, but also spreading their cultures within the other cultures. Social media with its great potential pushed these trends; shows’ fans are finding each other through hash-tags, growing their community, and influencing more people to watch shows they like and even learn the language.

One of my friends is obsessed with Korean drama films to an extent of transforming her laptop’s keyboard to the Korean language. The Korean government is aware of their Arab fans, and for that, they create dedicated events and campaigns, one of which was K-con event that occurred lately in Abu Dhabi. The Turkish are also aware of their own fan base too and they are putting the effort to get their shows translated, sub-titled and voice over-ed.

This makes us think about “Destination Branding” and its values to the world. How do we see other countries from “the eyes” of the film industry? How does the world see us, the UAE, through films? The amount of thrill and excitement we see in a James Bond movie, or even the feeling of “Fear VS safety” watching superheroes’ movies showcasing the American cities, ‘romance and drama’ for Turkey, and even more brand images of other countries. What does the world ‘feel’ when the UAE is mentioned, influenced by film?