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.
Saudi Arabia 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), Mada’in Saleh (pre-Islamic ruins), Al-Ula (ruins), Al Wahbah Crater, Jeddah souqs and coral houses, the Modern skyscraper Kingdom Tower in Riyadh, King Abdullah Petroleum Studies and Research Center also in Riyadh, and Red Sea underwater photography options. King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture is located in the eastern city of Dhahran. Once completed, the Jeddah Tower will be the tallest building in the world.
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 & Tax Incentives
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.
Tax Incentives. Saudi Arabia offers a 35% cash rebate to incentivize international film production as well as a 50% rebate available for spend on Saudi labour.
Film Crew & Talent
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.
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.
Saudi Arabia Film Equipment
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.
Communication. Web posted casting, scouting and videoconferencing. Some websites are blocked from access.
Art Department, Studios, Backlots, & Post Production
Art department and set construction is very basic.
Studios and backlots. None exist at present.
Post Production. Post abroad.
Visas & 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.
Transport & Accommodation
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:
Please contact us for corporate rates.
For longer stays we can also organize serviced apartments.
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:
Hire Saudi Arabia Production Support & Shooting Crew
If you are looking for a film or photographic production service company, line producer or fixer for your shoot in Saudi Arabia, please contact us.
If you are looking for a shooting crew for your shoot in Saudi Arabia, such as a director, DoP, photographer, videographer (cameraman / camera operator), camera assistant (focus puller), sound operator, grip, gaffer, stylist, hair and makeup, PA / runner, production driver, please contact us.
We are able to provide you with answers, references and bids quickly.