Dubai on the Big Screen

The film, City of Life, gave students another perspective on Emirati culture. (Photo courtesy City of Life)

Watching a movie doesn’t seem like the most interesting thing to do while on your first trip to Dubai. But when it’s the first motion picture directed by an Emirati, was entirely shot in Dubai and centers around life in the United Arab Emirates, it becomes an insider’s take on a culture of which you typically see only the polished surface.

The film, City of Life, tells the intertwining story of five characters from different countries and socioeconomic classes: two young Emirati men, friends whose relationship is strained as one is forced by his father to become more responsible and get a job; a Romanian female flight attendant in a relationship with a big-time Western expatriate advertiser and an Indian taxi driver trying to become a Bollywood star.

At times, City of Life criticizes Emiratis, for example, the entitled, fast-paced lifestyle of some of its youth, while at others, it praises their culture, such as a woman’s choice to cover. The film doesn’t side with any one lifestyle, but that’s not entirely surprising as the country continues to grapple over the multiple challenges that arise when the locals, who make up only 20 percent of the population, attempt to maintain their culture and language while modernizing and importing expatriates at increasing rates.—Danielle Kaminski C’12

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