WHAT OUR FILM FIXERS HAVE TO SAY ABOUT FILM PRODUCTION IN QATAR
Qatar officially the State of Qatar, is a country located in Western Asia and the richest country in the World. It lies on the Persian Gulf in eastern Arabia, north of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.
Qatar has a dry, subtropical desert climate with low annual rainfall and intensely hot and humid summers. The weather in Qatar can be broadly grouped into two seasons: hot (May to October) and cool (December to February). The best time to film in Qatar is in winter from November to April.
The Qatari riyal has been the official currency since 1967. The riyal is issued by the Central Bank of Qatar. A Riyal is divided into 100 dirhams.
Arabic is the official language, and most Qataris speak a dialect of Gulf Arabic similar to that spoken in surrounding states. Modern Standard Arabic is taught in schools, and English is commonly used. Among the large expatriate population, Persian and Urdu are often spoken.
Qatar is a very safe country to film in. Its crime rates are low, including violent crimes that are extremely rare, especially towards foreigners.
The culture of Qatar is strongly influenced by traditional Bedouin culture, with less acute influence deriving from India, East Africa and elsewhere in the Persian Gulf. Women do not need to cover their heads, faces or wear a hijab or abaya, but they are expected to dress modestly so as not to offend the local community. Skirts, dresses and loose-fitting pants should be knee-length, and tank-tops and shirts should cover the midriff and shoulder areas. Although being a country booming with development, Qatar hasn’t forgotten its roots and the natives carry immense faith in Islam which is the official religion of the country. While most of the natives here are Muslims, the regime and the government in Qatar are linked to Islamic Sharia which very much explains the importance Islam carries in the lives of Qataris.
There are four different modes of public transportation that you can use in Qatar: buses, taxis, metro and limousines, all of which are owned by Mowasalat (Karwa) apart from some limousine companies. Be aware that taxis only take cash and carry only a little change.The bus service began in October 2005. Ticket prices start from just Qr4.00. You can travel as far north as Al Shamal/Al Ruwais, as far west as Dukhan, and as far south as Mesaieed (Umm Said). You will require a Karwa Smart Card to journey on buses – paying on the bus with cash stopped in 2010. An alternative to taxis and buses would be to use a limousine service, which will send a car to your location (as will Karwa taxis if they are booked by telephone). Limousines are expensive, but they are the most comfortable form of transport. Uber taxi service is available in Qatar since December 2013. You can hire a car with local Car Rental companies. You will find plenty of car rental company in cities, airports or via your hotel. Metro has opened since 2019. You can travel from point A to B for 2 QR per person per trip or buy a day pass for 6 QR. However, if you are planning to use the metro very frequently you can buy a metro card for 30 QR. When going by plane to Qatar, you will most likely enter the country at Doha‘s airport: Hamad International Airport (DOH), which opened on 30 April 2014. Local carrier Qatar Airways is building a growing worldwide network with flights from there.
Local film fixers will advise on film friendly hotels.
There are tax incentives and rebates/grant in place offered by the DFI for film production in Qatar and the local film fixers can assist international film producers to make the most of these.
WHAT OUR FILM FIXERS HAVE TO SAY ABOUT FILM LOCATIONS IN QATAR
Qatar is an Arab nation located on a peninsular in the Persian Gulf known for its landscape of desert, dunes and beaches, as well as the ultra-modern city of Doha.
Predominately desert landscape, agricultural film locations are limited to date palm plantations and sheep, goat, and camel livestock farming. Traditional fishing boats (dhows) are available for filming. Industrial locations include extensive oil and gas facilities.
Doha is the capital, the largest city, and Qatar’s production service centre. Film locations here include futuristic towering skyline, a waterfront palm-fringed boulevard, the Museum of Islamic Art, National Museum of Qatar, Katara Cultural Village, Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art, Education City, Qatar National Library, Qatar Science and Technology Park, Souq Waqif, Imam Muhammad bin Abdulwahhab Mosque, Aspire Park, Dubai Towers, and Tornado Tower. Pearl-Qatar is a man-made luxury island. Banana Island is a luxury island resort. Al Wukair Scrapyard is an arid desert scrapyard home to all manner of dumped vehicles.
Qatar is home to many modern sporting complexes and state of the art stadiums.
Just outside Doha, there are several film locations of interest. Zubarah Fort, Barzan Tower, and Al Wajbah Fort are historic locations. Film City is a movie set of a traditional Arabic village. Al Jumail is an abandoned fishing village. Al Wakrah is known for its harbour full of traditional dhows.
Khor Al Udeid is an area of desert dunes that becomes an inland sea when the tide comes in. The Qatari desert is home to Richard Serra’s East-West/West-East, a set of four standing steel plates rising out of the sands. As a peninsula, much of the country is coastline, so there are plenty of beautiful remote beaches such as Umm Bab Beach, Dukhan Beach, and Fuwairit Beach. Al Thakira Mangroves Forest is a beautiful location. Dhal Al Misfir Cave is another film location of note.
WHAT OUR FILM FIXERS IN QATAR HAVE TO SAY ABOUT FILM PERMITS,IMPORT PERMITS FOR GEAR AND VISA APPLICATIONS
Permits for most public locations are free of charge. The permitting process can be slow in Qatar, so allow plenty of lead time. Usually, it can take anywhere from 3 – 15 days, but more complicated shoots involving road closures or pyrotechnics can take up to a month to permit. Drone filming is possible. Authorities ask you for your Film Permit so make ensure that you always carry it with you while filming. Fees for privately owned locations are negotiated by the local film fixers.
Qatari film fixer / service producer will apply for an Equipment Permit so you can bring in your gear. This process take about 5 days after you have your approved film permit. For this they require:
• Your approved Film Permit
• Key crew names and passport information page copies
• Your gear list
• E-ticket flight details for the arriving crew handling equipment
Visiting crews are required to have a Film Permit from the QNA. The application must be made through a locally registered fixer / production service company. To apply for the permit, Qatari fixer / service producer will need to submit your:
• Client and product details
• Project synopsis / boards / script
• Key crew names and passport information page copies
• No Objection Letter from Client / Agency
• List of shooting locations – both public and private
• Dates and times
• Payment upfront for permit processing fee
The process usually takes about 20 working days but rush projects may be expedited at extra cost.
Allow extra time for permitting during the month of Ramadan.
Crews from Western countries can apply for a visa on arrival which is valid for 30 days.
MORE FROM LOCAL FILM FIXERS ABOUT FILM PRODUCTION IN QATAR
Qatar has grip, lighting and camera equipment available locally. More specialised film equipment needs to be brought in from abroad. For productions intending to bring in equipment Qatar is not an ATA carnet country.
Qatar has a small pool of local directors, directors of photography and stills photographers. Some key crew are based locally but visiting productions will often bring in their key crew. Dubai is the closest major production centre should you need to look further.
Talent is non-union and buyouts are negotiable.
Although Arabic is the official language, English is widely spoken.
The vast majority of people are foreign national guest workers, particularly from South Asia, South East Asia, and the Middle East. Qatar is one of the more conservative countries in the region so certain talent, such as locally based Arabic female models, are harder to come by. Nearby production centres such as Dubai offer additional casting options.