MIDDLE EAST: The idea of filming ‘Sex and the City 2’ in Dubai or Abu Dhabi? Perish the thought


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Writer and director Michael Patrick King envisioned ‘Sex and the City 2’ unfolding in an earthly paradise where self-indulgence and excess never raises an eyebrow. So naturally, he flew the four fabulous ladies, Carrie Bradshaw (Sarah Jessica Parker), Samantha Jones (Kim Cattrall), Miranda Hobbes (Cynthia Nixon) and Charlotte York-Goldenblatt (Kristin Davis), to the Persian Gulf.

‘I thought about where’s there a lot of money with no shame attached,’ King told, the entertainment website. ‘Then I thought about the Middle East because of Dubai and Abu Dhabi and their extravagance. It’s the new Middle East and the future.’


But the vision was immediately clouded by the Arabian Gulf’s perplexing contradictions, as one smooching British couple recently learned.

Though the film’s masterminds originally wrote the script with the divas vacationing in blingy Dubai, they had to substitute it with the neighboring United Arab Emirates state of Abu Dhabi and film it in Morocco after authorities rejected permission to film there because of the word ‘sex’ in the movie’s name.

‘[The producers] wanted the girls to be in a rich, modern Arab city,’ one of the filmmakers told But things ‘became political,’ the filmmaker said, as Dubai convinced Abu Dhabi to renege on the entire production.

‘The idea of sex and these liberated women being filmed there was a little too progressive for their…where they are right now,’ King told an interviewer.

Morocco has a history of offering Hollywood producers a safe and secure Arabian backdrops for their productions. The producers retained the Abu Dhabi setting, fearing that basing the film in Dubai would reward the uncooperative Emirate. Fans will flock to Abu Dhabi to recreate the opulent holiday they see on the silver screen, generating excessive tourist revenues, predicted The National, Abu Dhabi’s English-language newspaper.’There were some amazing benefits [to Morocco] in that we were not monitored,’ King said. ‘There wasn’t a big watchful eye on the girls in terms of editing or censoring.’

He added, ‘The other thing was, we got to film on dunes where they filmed Lawrence of Arabia.’


But many might wonder why did the producers retain the Abu Dhabi illusion when they filmed in Morocco? Is Casablanca not luxurious enough? And where is the Carrie of Season 6 who courageously confronted Aleksandr Petrovsky, played by Mikhail Baryshnikov, about the difference between romance and materialism?

‘I’m looking for love,’ she said back then. ‘Real love. Ridiculous, inconvenient, consuming, can’t-live-without-each-other love. And I don’t think that love is here in this expensive suite in this lovely hotel in Paris.’

Instead, in the trailer for this movie, Carrie sighs, ‘I think we need some glamour.’

To which Samantha elatedly responds, ‘One week in Abu Dhabi, all expenses paid for all four of us! I can hear the decadence calling.’

‘Sex and the City 2’ hits theaters in the U.S. on May 27.

-- Becky Lee Katz in Beirut

Video: Trailer for ‘Sex and the City 2.’ Credit: YouTube. Photo: Screen shot from trailer. Credit: Los Angeles Times