Emma Watson in 'Noah' Image Credit: Paramount Pictures

The Hollywood film Noah, starring Russell Crowe, is still under review in the UAE and a decision has not been made on whether or not it should be released, an official has told tabloid!

“We haven’t decided whether it’s OK or not. We will decide after watching the full movie next week and after a report is made,” said Juma Obeid Al Leem, the director of Media Content Tracking at the National Media Council, the authority tasked with approving films in the UAE.

Al Leem’s comments come after tabloid! sought clarification following an announcement by a spokesperson for Paramount Pictures, the film’s producer, on Saturday that the $125 million (Dh459 million) will not release in the UAE, Bahrain and Qatar.

“Censors for Qatar, Bahrain and the UAE officially confirmed this week that the film will not release in their countries,” the representative was quoted as saying by Reuters. “The official statement they offered in confirming this news is because ‘it contradicts the teachings of Islam’.”

The representative added the studio expected a similar ban in Egypt, Jordan and Kuwait.

The film will premiere in the United States on March 28.

Noah, who in the Bible’s Book of Genesis built the ark that saved his family and many pairs of animals from a great flood, is revered by Judaism, Christianity and Islam. An entire chapter in the Quran is devoted to him.

Cairo’s Al Azhar, the highest authority of Sunni Islam and a main centre of Islamic teaching for over a millennium, issued a fatwa, or religious injunction, against the film on Thursday.

“Al Azhar... renews its objection to any act depicting the messengers and prophets of God and the companions of the Prophet [Mohammad], peace be upon him,” it announced in a statement.

They “provoke the feelings of believers... and are forbidden in Islam and a clear violation of Islamic law,” the fatwa added.

Mel Gibson’s 2004 film The Passion of the Christ, on Jesus’s crucifixion, was widely screened in the Arab World, despite a flurry of objections by Muslim clerics.

Noah, whose official video trailer depicts a burly Crowe wielding an axe and computer-animated geysers swamping an army of sinners hoping to board his ark, has also stoked religious controversy in the US.

Jerry A. Johnson, president of a conservative National Religious Broadcasters (NRB) group, said last month he wanted to “make sure everyone who sees this impactful film knows this is an imaginative interpretation of scripture, and not literal.” Paramount responded by agreeing to issue a disclaimer on advertising for the film.

“While artistic license has been taken, we believe that this film is true to the essence, values and integrity of a story that is a cornerstone of faith for millions of people worldwide,” the advisory reads.

With input from Reuters