In 2005, director Hani Al Shaibani made history with Al Hilm, the first full-length Emirati film, and the first to receive a cinematic release. The drama, about a group of writers, directors and actors who lose themselves in the desert, kickstarted a movement in the UAE. Gulf News tabloid! rounds up 12 fictional feature films that have released in the 12 years since.


Arabian Sands (2007)

Director: Majid Abdul Razak

Genre: Adventure

Duration: 90 minutes

Synopsis: Arabian Sands was inspired by the 1959 book of the same name, written by British explorer and travel writer Wilfred Thesiger, who was close to the Arab Bedouins.


City of Life (2010)

Director: Ali F. Mostafa

Genre: Drama, Romance

Duration: 119 minutes

Synopsis: Three different identities meet in Dubai: a young Arab man struggling with cultural identity, an Indian taxi driver who looks like a famous Bollywood star, and a Romanian flight attendant who was once a ballet dancer.


Sea Shadow (2011)

Director: Nawaf Al Janahi

Genre: Drama, Romance

Duration: 98 minutes

Synopsis: A coming-of-age film that follows two Emirati teenagers living by the water. As Mansour and Kaltham grow up, they must decide where they stand in the face of their families’ traditional values.


Djinn (2013)

Director: Tobe Hooper

Genre: Horror, Thriller

Duration: 82 minutes

Synopsis: An Emirati man and his Lebanese wife relocate from America to the UAE after the death of their child. They take up residence in a hostile building with suspect neighbours. (The production was backed by Abu Dhabi’s ImageNation.)


Grandmother’s Farm Part 1/Part 2 (2013/2015)

Director: Ahmad Zain

Genre: Horror, Comedy

Duration: 71 minutes

Synopsis: Yasser and his friends spend the weekend at his grandmother’s farm. Chaos ensues.


From A to B (2014)

Director: Ali F. Mostafa

Genre: Comedy, Drama, Adventure

Duration: 108 minutes

Synopsis: From A to B follows three acquaintances who were torn apart by the death of a mutual friend. A roadtrip from Abu Dhabi to Beirut brings them closer together.


Zinzana (2015)

Director: Majid Al Ansari

Genre: Psychological Thriller, Crime

Duration: 96 minutes

Synopsis: A man wakes up in a prison cell and has no recollection of how he got there. He must survive the antics of a deranged guard.


Going to Heaven (2015)

Director: Saeed Salmeen Al Murry

Genre: Drama

Duration: 90 minutes

Synopsis: A young boy loses his mother and must live with his uncaring stepmother and younger sister, Fatima.


The Worthy (2016)

Director: Ali F. Mostafa

Genre: Thriller, Horror

Duration: 99 minutes

Synopsis: In a post-apocalyptic world, a group of friends and family don’t know who to trust. With one source of drinking water, only the worthy will survive.


Aerials (2016)

Director: S.A. Zaidi

Genre: Sci-Fi, Thriller

Duration: 90 minutes

Synopsis: Aliens invade Earth, and an intermarried couple in Dubai are forced into confinement at their home.


Hajwala (2016)

Director: Ali Bin Matar, Ebrahim Bin Mohammad

Genre: Action, Adventure

Duration: 96 minutes

Synopsis: Two car racing aficionados, Khalid and Kehailan, enter into a competition that unexpectedly changes both their lives.


Only Men Go to the Grave (2016)

Director: Abdulla Al Kaabi

Genre: Drama

Duration: 80 minutes

Synopsis: After the Iraq-Iran war in 1988, a blind mother tries to tell a secret to her estranged daughters, but dies while sharing it. Her daughters uncover more than they bargained for in the aftermath.