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Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia Film & Photography Production Services.

Are you a media company, brand, ad agency or production company looking for film / photography production support or shooting crew in Saudi Arabia? We have fully vetted, locally based fixers, service producers, directors, DP’s, videographers, cameramen, photographers, sound operators, production drivers, and a range of other film crew. Contact us for referrals, questions, cost estimates and references.

Want to know more about shooting in Saudi Arabia? See below for an introduction to Saudi Arabia locations, permits, when to shoot, costs, talent, crews, equipment, art department, studios, post facilities, visas and work permits, film friendly hotels, transport, communications and safety advice.

Film Locations. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is best known for the following:

Mecca is the holiest city in Islam. Every year over 2 million Muslims undertake the Hajj. Pilgrims visit the Kaabah, the Mountain of Light, the Plain of Arafat and the House of Abdullah Bin Abdul Muttalib, where the Prophet Muhammad was born. Non-Muslims are strictly prohibited from entering the city of Mecca. Pilgrims must hold special visas issued by the Saudi government.

Film locations of interest open to non-Muslims include, Madain Saleh (Saudi Arabia’s Petra), The Empty Quarter (largest sea of sand in the world), Najran (where mud brick forts rise out of palm plantations and oasis), Jeddah souqs and coral houses, the Modern skyscraper Kingdom Tower in Riyadh, and Red Sea underwater photography options.

Saudi Arabia Film Location Permits. Saudi Arabia is a very closed country. Unauthorised photography of government buildings, military installations, oil facilities, and palaces is prohibited. Any photography that may be perceived as portraying the country in an unfavorable light can be shut down by the film police, even if you have a valid film permit and they give no reason. This policy can include filming of mosques, impoverished areas, the local population, and souks. Only Muslims can enter the holy city of Mecca. Filming religious sites is forbidden although pilgrims have been known to sneak footage. Please contact us for more location specific information.

When to shoot? Most of Saudi Arabia has a desert climate with hot, dry days and cold nights. Coastal areas are more humid. Summer (May to September) is very hot with almost no rainfall. Winter (November to February) has mild days and chilly nights. For monthly weather statistics please see here.

Most festivals and events are based on the Islamic calendar. Ramadan is strictly observed with many services closed during this period. The Hajj pilgrimage is a religious duty undertaken by Muslims each year during the last month of the Islamic calendar year. As far as non-religious events go, the Janadriyah Festival, featuring horse and camel races, takes place in February.

Public holidays may affect timing, availability and costs. See here for public holiday dates in Saudi Arabia.

Costs. Saudi Arabia is expensive with costs similar to Dubai. Since little to no filming infrastructure exists all key crew, equipment and talent need to be brought in from abroad which will add to the cost of filming. Our Saudi fixer / service producer will negotiate local deals and provide the appropriate level of production support to match every budget.

Talent day rates and buyouts are negotiable. Saudi Arabia offers mainly Arabic looking talent. All other talent needs to be cast abroad. Given the conservative nature of the country, the pool of female talent is limited. In fact, filming women or places where women congregate without prior permission, can create problems.

Crews. Saudi Arabia has a very small pool of directors, videographers and stills photographers. Key crew should be brought in from abroad. Dubai is the closest major production centre.

Contact us if you are looking for a director, DP, photographer, videographer (cameraman / camera operator), camera assistant (focus puller), sound operator, grip, gaffer, stylist, hair and makeup, PA / runner, production driver, or any other film crew for your shoot in Saudi Arabia.

Equipment. Only the most basic camera, grip and lighting equipment is available locally. You will need to bring in most standard equipment from abroad. Saudi Arabia is not an ATA carnet country.

Art department and set construction is very basic.

Studios and backlots. None exist at present.

Tax Incentives. At present there are no tax incentives for foreign commercials or films shooting in Saudi Arabia.

Post Production. Post abroad.

Visas and Work Permits. Saudi Arabia has some of the most restrictive travel policies in the world. Advance visas are required for most foreign travellers. US passport holders see here for more information. Visitors holding passports containing any Israeli visa or stamp could be refused entry. Unaccompanied female travellers may be denied a visa on those grounds. During Hajj season getting a visa of any kind tends to be more difficult. Special visas are required for Hajj and Umrah.

Transportation Infrastructure. Main roads are well maintained. Saudi Arabia is a large country so domestic flights are generally the best way to cover vast distances. Saudi Arabian Airlines is the main domestic carrier. Several international airlines service flights to Saudi Arabia.

Accommodation. Recommended film friendly hotels in Riyadh include:

Sheraton Riyadh Hotel & Towers
Al Faisaliah Hotel
Four Seasons

Please contact us for corporate rates.

For longer stays we can also organize serviced apartments.

Communication. Web posted casting, scouting and videoconferencing. Some websites are blocked from access.

Safety. See here for up to date travel advice.

Final Notes. Alcoholic beverages are strictly forbidden throughout the country although this is rarely enforced in expat compounds.

Projects. For an example of TV commercials, stills campaigns, online content, corporate videos, virtual reality 360 content, feature films, TV series and documentaries shot in Saudi Arabia, please see below:

If you are looking for a film or photographic production service company, line producer or fixer in Saudi Arabia, please contact us.

We are able to provide you with answers, references and bids quickly.