A Blog by the Editor of The Middle East Journal

Putting Middle Eastern Events in Cultural and Historical Context

Friday, May 7, 2010

Sex and Some Other City

Some of these links are from back in April, but heck, I'm an old married man with a kid who doesn't keep up with the whole Sex and the City thing (though at least I no longer have to watch Dora the Explorer cartoons), and it took a younger colleague to flag this issue for me. As apparently everyone on earth and several of the inner planets knows, the forthcoming movie Sex and the City 2, opening soon, is at least partly set in Abu Dhabi.

Except that both Abu Dhabi and Dubai declined the honor of allowing filming in their fair cities, since, as certain British and Pakistani couples have learned recently, and despite a general sense of openness, and some locals who know how to get around the rules, there's no sex in those cities. At least not officially, and especially not on the beaches. So Morocco is playing Abu Dhabi for the movies. What part of Morocco is not specified in the material I've seen, and it's been a long time since I've been in Morocco, but I'm guessing there's a lot of computer graphics backgrounds in use, unless Casablanca has gone all Shanghai on us, or they just figure nobody knows what Abu Dhabi looks like. (Anybody want to bet there are camels in it? Gotta be camels or you'd think it was Palm Springs, right? Our heroines are going to ride camels, right? Isn't that how you get from the airport to your hotel in Abu Dhabi? It was the last time Wilfred Thesiger was there. Except there was no airport. I'm ranting. Sorry.)

It would be interesting to know why the brains (if that was the bodily organ involved) behind Sex and and the City 2 decided to set the story in Abu Dhabi in the first place. Was it a Maurice Chevalier "Come wees me to ze Casbah" thing? Except for the old fort and a mosque or two, the oldest building in Abu Dhabi dates from the 1980s (oh, sorry, that one was just torn down to build a new one: make it the 1990s: wait, here come the bulldozers) so it's not exactly Casbah country.

The National, Abu Dhabi's increasingly lively English daily, has been on the case, with an early take here; an article here on potential tourist boosts, and a piece on films made in locations other than their alleged setting here (familiar to Washingtonians who've seen plenty of films and TV shows where the chase passes the Lincoln Memorial and then the Sierra Nevadas show up in the background).

So Morocco, which has played a lot of other Arab countries in films before (as has Israel, for that matter), may drive a tourism boom to Abu Dhabi. But to paraphrase the title of a famous British play: no sex, please, we're Emirati.

Late Addition: A commenter has noted that my 1) CGI Abu Dhabi and 2) camel comments are not only dead on, but in the trailer (1:17, 1:23). So I have no alternative but embedding the trailer:

Forgive me. It's worse than I'd imagined.


Aaron R said...

Oh, clearly you have not seen the trailer yet!


Start at 1:08 unless you actually care about the plot. Which I hope you don't.

Aaron R said...

Actually at 1:17 you can pause and see the "Abu Dhabi skyline". You were right about it being entirely CGI. Wow.

Michael Collins Dunn said...

I guess I have to embed the trailer. See above.

Michael Collins Dunn said...

It's worse than I imagined. Perhaps worse than I COULD have imagined. Thanks for pointing this out.

Jillian said...

In one of the early trailers I saw, you could quite clearly spot a couple of cafes in Marrakesh's Djemaa al Fna. Other than that, I would imagine most filming was done in Ouarzazate.