Liwa desert in Abu Dhabi emirate has the answer to who Dune it - GulfToday

Liwa desert in Abu Dhabi emirate has the answer to who Dune it

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Director-co-writer-producer Denis Villeneuve on the set of ‘Dune.’

Muhammad Yusuf, Features Writer

‘Dune’, the American epic science fiction film directed by Denis Villeneuve from a screenplay by Villeneuve, Jon Spaihts, and Eric Roth, has won six Oscars - the highest number of awards at the ceremony. The movie was also shot in the deserts of Liwa in Abu Dhabi.

“I speak for everyone in Abu Dhabi when I say we are very proud to have contributed to its success, through Abu Dhabi Film Commission’s (ADFC) 30 per cent cashback rebate, a successful collaboration with Epic Films, and introducing Denis to the magnificent sea of sand dunes that provided such a unique and memorable location for the shoot, fully embodying the Spice planet Arrakis,” said Hans Fraikin, Film and Television Commissioner at Abu Dhabi Film Commission.


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“Dune has performed the rare achievement of becoming critically acclaimed for its technique, storytelling and artistry, as well as being one of the biggest box office successes worldwide, since its release. “Making Dune and bringing Denis’s vision to life was a true passion project for many of us; so its success at the Oscars, BAFTAs and Critics Choice Awards, is incredibly rewarding. I am delighted for Legendary Pictures and everyone who worked on the film in Abu Dhabi and around the world.

liwa 4 Sharon Duncan-Brewster.

“This is an absolutely phenomenal moment for Montreal-born director Denis Villeneuve and the cast and crew of Dune, who have won a fantastic six Academy Awards for Best Visual Effects, Best Cinematography, Best Production Design, Best Original Score, Best Film Editing, and Best Sound. A huge congratulations to all on this incredible success.”

The scenes showing the vast immensity of the open desert infested with monstrous sandworms, were filmed across 11 days at the Liwa Desert in the southern part of the Arabian Peninsula (United Arab Emirates territory). The Qasr Al Sarab Resort also figured in the movie – it is a world class hospitality offering, and the movie crew set up house there. Considered one of the most beautiful rolling dunes landscapes in the world, the 5-star Qasr Al Sarab Resort is an oasis located in the middle of the desert, ideal to host film crews.

liwa 1 Jason Momoa as Duncan Idaho in action adventure movie 'Dune.'

It is set in the middle of the Rub’ al Khali or Empty Quarter, the largest uninterrupted body of sand in the world, isolated, but less than 200 kilometres away from Abu Dhabi. The resort embraces the mysticism of its location.

Also, the colossal 300 meters tall Moreeb Dune, situated nearby in the area, came very handy to record the stunning aerial footage of Arrakis. Moreeb Dune or Tal Moreeb is a large sized sand dune. With a reported 50 degree slipface, and height of 300 metres, it is popular for organised drag races competitions.

Moreeb Dune or Hill is also the tallest dune in the UAE, and one of the largest hill climbs in the world, being one of the highest sand hills anywhere. The dune is 1,600 metres long and is 25 kilometres south of Liwa Oasis. The total distance from Abu Dhabi to Moreeb Dune is about 250 kilometres.

Dune, the first of a two-part film adaptation of the 1965 novel by Frank Herbert, primarily covers the first half of the book. Set in the far future, the film follows Paul Atreides as his family, the noble House Atreides, is thrust into a war for the deadly and inhospitable desert planet Arrakis. Arrakis, also known as “Dune”, is a harsh desert planet. It is located far from the major populated worlds and their trade routes.

liwa 3  Rebecca Ferguson as Lady Jessica in 'Dune.'

The surface of Arrakis consists almost exclusively of dry dune deserts - hence the planet’s alternative name, Dune. Various weathered mountain ranges stretch across the planet, breaking up the deserts and sheltering the limited native lifeforms. Rock outcroppings also litter its surface. Little native life survived on Arrakis, owing to its scorching heat and dry climate.

The various lifeforms that did endure were eclipsed by the sandworms, which roam the deep deserts of the planet. The sandworms play an important role in the production of melange, a substance vital for space travel, and they aggressively protect their desert territory from humans and other sandworms alike. Dune was originally scheduled for a late 2020 release, but it was delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic. Filming took place in 2019 at locations including Budapest, Jordan, Norway, and Abu Dhabi.  The film premiered the following year at the 78th Venice International Film Festival in 2021, ahead of its international release and was generally well received by critics for its visuals, scope, and ambition.

Organisations such as the National Board of Review and the American Film Institute, named Dune as one of the top 10 films of 2021.  A sequel, Dune: Part Two, is set to be released in 2023, covering the remaining story from the book. Abu Dhabi Film Commission is a government agency formed to support the development of Abu Dhabi’s film and TV industry.

Its mission is to promote the Emirate of Abu Dhabi as a production destination to generate economic benefits for the region and increased job opportunity for its residents. As part of their efforts to increase film productions in the region, ADFC provides services to production companies such as location scouting, location surveys, script breakdowns, script approval, custom clearance, digital location library, and assistance with film and work permits.

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