Actors and actresses are starting to arrive in Abu Dhabi to film a segment of Star Wars 7 in the desert, according to sources close to The National – one of the best regarded newspapers in the United Arab Emirates. How does this fare for the local environment?
No plot summary has been released for the next in the Star Wars series and only insiders know how the film will unfold, but The National reports that some “otherworldly” action is going to take place in the desert outside of the UAE capital.
Security is tight going into the set, with both army and police on hand to ensure that everyone who enters the set area has permission to be there, but someone somehow involved with the set production have dropped hints that a massive battle may be staged.
Props arriving include a large tower, shuttle-like spacecraft and 10-15 “really fast buggies” powered by jet engines. Some actors are said to be practicing their moves on the dunes in preparation for the film.
Two lorries brought in explosives, which are likely to be set off in a blast crater – ostensibly to dampen the potential for danger or environmental impact.
Albeit the first to be distributed by Walt Disney Pictures and directed by J.J. Abrahms, this is not the first time Star Wars will be filmed in the Middle East.
The first George Lucas Star Wars episode was filmed in Tunisia – something that brought some economic benefit at the time, but which has since brought international exposure to a country that rarely makes headline news.
Fans pitched in to restore Luke Skywalker’s Tatooine home in Tunisia at the former Tatooine set. A variety of structures left over from 30 years ago are currently at risk of being swallowed up by a dune.
We now know more about preservation and conservation, and Abu Dhabi has stronger pro-environmental policies than Tunisia, so we’re unlikely to see a scrap of debris left behind by episode VII. But it remains to be seen what kind of environmental impact roughly three weeks of filming will have – either way, it is likely to be hidden from the rest of us.
By the way, if you’re young and adventurous and living in Abu Dhabi, we don’t recommend that you try to get Harrison Ford’s autograph out in the middle of the desert. You never know what alien villains lurk.
The film should be released in December, 2015.
Desert dune | Shutterstock