I have been meaning to write about this since last year, following its unsuccessful attempt to be filmed in the UAE. However, I trashed the thought since I was not a follower of the series, Sex and The City (SATC). But the recurring misconceptions coming my way, i.e. “the-why-did-you-not-tell me-that-parts-of-Sex and the City 2-were-filmed in-Abu Dhabi”, “I-want-to-go-there-what-else-to-see-and-to-do-aside-from those-shown-in-the-movie”, led me to drafting this. That is surprising, considering that it has been much publicized that certain scenes in SATC 2 were actually filmed in Morocco and not in Abu Dhabi.
I honestly have no idea how much of Abu Dhabi has been showcased and/or negated by SATC 2. As much as I wanted to see it before sharing my thoughts, it is not possible at the moment due to three reasons: (a) It will never be shown in the UAE cinemas. Ever. Although, it was not banned. The story comes later. (b) I am not that determined to source out a copycat DVD from the dibidi vendors [yes! not just in the Philippines; except that they are more sosyal (read: maporma) and discreet], (c) I am not that torrents efficient. I resorted to viewing a couple of available trailers in You Tube. Being a UAE resident for almost three birthdays already, I thought it would be easy to recognize the “pretenses”. I was laughing out when I saw the desert safari scene of these fabulous women, among other things. Obviously, it was not shot in the UAE.
This scene was shot during a camel ride in Marrakesh, Morocco, but was replicated and documented in the movie as if it transpired within the UAE.
Most of us might think that these gaps do not matter anymore; that the mere mention of Abu Dhabi is something that the emirate should be grateful for. That is, if you will have a shallow consideration of its boost in tourism. However, the truth is Abu Dhabi does not want to be associated with SATC 2. Not at all. Let us see where the concerns emanated from:
(1) SATC, the television series, was aired in the UAE. However, SATC 1 did not make it to any UAE cinema because it was banned. It was considered by the National Media Council (censorship board of the UAE) as culturally non-compliant. Since a large percentage of its population is comprised by Europeans and Americans and most of whom were eager to watch it, a lot argued about the restriction. There was no way to see it but to catch it in other countries, get a copycat DVD (sssshhh), and through the other not-so-legal resources.
(2) Last year, the request to film the sequel, SATC 2 was denied by the censors of the UAE for a number of issues such that the title associates sex with the city of Abu Dhabi without showing its people and infrastructure, scenes showing Arab women removing their abaya (traditional dress) to reveal flashy garments and other contradictions to women’s modesty, and other concerns.
(3) The producers of SATC 2 opted to shoot the Middle East related scenes in Morocco instead. Its regulating body also found the probability of the script to offend Muslims.They permitted the filming after the producers agreed not to identify Morocco. Instead, they inserted shots of Abu Dhabi to support the replication. It was reported that the small, botique Amanjena Hotel in Marrakesh (Morocco) was signified as the Emirates Palace Hotel in Abu Dhabi. I have a Moroccan colleague and having been to the really, really luxurious Emirates Palace Hotel, we think that they are not comparable at all. On the other hand, a nightclub scene set in Abu Dhabi was shot in Greenpoint, Brooklyn (in New York).
(4) SATC 2 did not make it to the UAE cinemas. To correct the perception of the many, it was not banned. How can you ban something which was not actually submitted to National Media Council at all? Well, if I am among the people behind the sequel, I will not waste time about the submissions when the chance of rejection is more than 100%. Had it really been shown, it was probably titled “The Desert Safari” because that would be the only acceptable scene. Wild guess.
(5) It is not the first production rejected for filming in the UAE. The producers of Body of Lies were also denied permission because of the script’s politically sensitive nature. You try to guess where the scenes set were filmed instead. Yes, in Morocco.
I am not being partial. But as much as the Emiratis (UAE locals) and their government are gearing towards openmindedness, respect for culture comes first for them. The UAE has its strengths and weaknesses, just like the other nations. But its non-hungry approach to get associated with something which might cause a minor scar is something. While I am not that interested to see the sequel, I would watch it with reasonableness when the copy, errr, opportunity comes. Just like when someone lent me a DVD of the prequel. Although I found it just okay, the soundtrack was remarkable.