your £$ support needed

part of a small rebellion | by maryann johanson

question of the day: Should ‘Doctor Who’ be shooting in Dubai?

The next-up Doctor Who special, “Planet of the Dead,” has recently been shooting in the Arab emirate of Dubai. Why? According to show producer Tracie Simpson:

The locations in Dubai are a perfect match for writer Russell T Davies’s vision of the episode and we expect to film some incredible scenes while we are here.

What’s the big deal? Well, Davies is, of course, also the executive producer of Doctor Who, and he’s been called — thanks to the progressive themes of equality and reason he’s promoted in all of his work, not just Who — the most influential gay man in Britain (though he is rankled by that). And Dubai treats homosexuality as a crime punishable by up to 10 years in prison.
Why on Earth would Davies give the okay to shoot in such a place?

And there are so many more reasons to dislike Dubai. Gareth McLean at the Guardian’s TV blog summed it all up beautifully:

Picture the scene: the Tardis materialises in a windswept desert under a blistering sun and the Doctor steps out on to an undulating dune. Beyond the sands, there is a glittering capital full of futuristic skyscrapers, extravagant edifices and peoples from all over the planet in pursuit of pleasure in the metropolis’s plentiful fun palaces. But there is a sinister side to this sparkling city. It is built on slave labour, at an enormous ecological cost, and some of its population is criminalised just for being who they are. Moreover, it is ruled by a rich-as-Croesus dynasty unwilling to give its people that most basic of rights – the vote – while its police and judiciary are no strangers to excessive force and Kafka-esque machinations. In short, it’s just the sort of place that the Doctor – the moral, courageous Doctor with his beliefs in equality and justice and difference – would find cause to fight for right and justice.

Am I wrong to be upset about this? Should Doctor Who be shooting in Dubai?

(If you have a suggestion for a QOTD, feel free to email me.)

Warning: Invalid argument supplied for foreach() in /home/flick/public_html/wptest/wp-content/themes/FlickFilosopher/loop-single.php on line 106
  • Poly in London

    We all live in challenging times trying to maintain our principles. Every action, from grocery shopping, heating the house, buying clothes, travelling, has become a moral choice and I think that if we are to continue functioning as moral beings, without being paralysed or going the other way and never considering the consequences, we learn to choose our battles. My point is that filming in Dubai is not ideal, but on balance it’s something I can live with. British papers are full of Dubai travelogs and ads, everyone is implicated and noone is completely clean.

  • Poly in London

    By the way, I still think it’s good that Gareth McLean and you highlighted the problem. I can sit down and enjoy Doctor Who, for me it doesn’t work as an ad for Dubai. But I am glad that some people who might not have known about the issues, will know now.

  • JoshB

    Dubai is a city of astonishing hypocrisy. It’s a resort town, a Las Vegas built for Western tourists by people who despise western standards of morality.

    Then again, maybe that makes it the ideal place for a show about a “moral, courageous Doctor with his beliefs in equality and justice and difference,” to shoot.

  • Mimi

    I find Dubai deeply creepy. And it does seem odd they chose to shoot there — there must be plenty of places that are desert-y… I’ll reserve judgment til I see the ep, I guess, but I don’t love it.

  • Poly in London

    I am reasonably certain that the story doesn’t take place in Dubai, so the episode won’t have any references to the actual place.

  • Kenny

    “I am reasonably certain that the story doesn’t take place in Dubai, so the episode won’t have any references to the actual place.”

    That makes it even worse. There is plenty of desert. I am unhappy about this… I’ve been offered a very good salary to go out and teach in Dubai and I turned it down because I won’t work in a place that survives on indentured labour.

  • MM

    People may wonder why Production Companies of favorite shows and films (like “Doctor Who” and others) film in places that are questionable. I don’t know much about Dubai and perhaps I should given a favorite show of mine is being filmed there. Yet I do know about the Film/TV Industry–they will go where they believe they will receive the most for their Buck. I am an American and in Los Angeles, CA. Los Angeles is concerned about “Runaway Production” which means Other Places (including the Continental US) are offering more incentives for Productions to go to certain locations. Because of Union Rules–for Actors and other Production Members–Films and TV shows, UNLESS they have someone who is involved who is adamant about being in a particular location and the others involved listen to them for a Particular Story, OR they have someone with considerable CLOUT, they will film where it is most Cost Efficient. Pity, but really End Of Story.

  • Debbie

    This isn’t just any random BBC show filming in Dubai. This is a show written by one of the most visible and outspoken gay showrunners on on either side of the Atlantic. He has been outspoken about the need to make gays visible on TV and in society as a means to end homophobia. I do find the idea disturbing that Davies wouldn’t have taken a stand against filming in a location where he and many of the characters he has created, including some for Doctor Who would be considered criminals. Perhaps he did.

  • Paul

    The real irony is that not only is Davies hypocritical enough to shoot the show in a country where he is a criminal just for being gay, but Dubai is hypocritical enough to take his money and not throw him in jail for setting foot there. It just proves what Marx said, that capitalism undermines every religion or belief, or turns it into a lie.

  • Kenny

    “It just proves what Marx said, that capitalism undermines every religion or belief, or turns it into a lie.”

    Nowhere moreso than Dubai… It’s an astonishing mix of quietly ignored morals.

    1. Western workers and tourists turning a blind eye to the indentured labourers who built their shiny hotels and offices.

    2. Muslims turning a blind eye to drinking and prostitution as long as you can pay. (You need a permit to drink alcohol… but the higher your salary, the bigger the allowance on your permit!!)

    3. Everybody turning a blind eye to gross ecological damage.

  • Davies’s response to the controversy can be found here:


    ‘I knew what we were doing. I didn’t personally choose the location, but I’m not ducking out of it now, I am the exec producer. But of course we filmed there. What are we suggesting, that we isolate the whole Arab world? Or the whole Islamic world? Do we cut them off? Do they cut us off? It’s not the way anyone engages with the modern world at all, I wouldn’t do that on a personal level or a professional level. Underneath it all is a subtle form of racism at work there that says white westerners are encouraged to love ethnic races, unless they’re rich. All these countries are running out of oil, so they have to build these giant hotels, because all they can do is engage with the West. After that the laws will change and the culture will change and we will assimilate with them as well. It’s a big cultural process and nothing is ever gained by saying: “We’re not going there.” Would you refuse to go into a room with an Arab? Where does that get people? I’m not saying we Westernise them, it’ll go the other way and happen in ways we don’t like personally as well. If you isolate them then you end up with Zimbabwe or with what’s happening in Senegal.’

Pin It on Pinterest