Abu Dhabi confirmed as first location for Star Wars: Episode VII

Commercial arm of the Media Zone Authority says filming in desert locations is "going smoothly and on schedule"

Twofour54, the commercial arm of the Media Zone Authority - Abu Dhabi, on Wednesday confirmed that Star Wars: Episode VII, is filming in the emirate.

Abu Dhabi is the first filming location for the seventh instalment of the global movie phenomenon, which is due to premiere in December 2015.

Director JJ Abrams and cast members flew into Abu Dhabi in early May, with the support of the Abu Dhabi Film Commission and twofour54 intaj, a statement said.

Hundreds of local and international cast and crew are currently working on the production in various parts of Abu Dhabi, with key production staff working closely with twofour54 intaj since January.

The combination of diverse desert landscapes and an extensive production infrastructure provide the perfect formula for the movie ensuring the shoot is going smoothly and on schedule, the statement added.

Kathleen Kennedy, president of Lucasfilm, said, "We were very excited to start the filming of Star Wars: Episode VII in Abu Dhabi - it has been an incredible place to commence this journey."

Noura Al Kaabi, CEO of twofour54, added: "We are delighted that Abu Dhabi has attracted another major international production and are thrilled to have welcomed the Star Wars team. Having Star Wars: Episode VII film in the emirate shows Abu Dhabi is emerging as the region's leading media and entertainment hub."

The statement said six UAE nationals had the opportunity to work on the set through twofour54's creative lab community internship programme. Two of the interns will be given the opportunity to follow the production to London's Pinewood Studios and thereby expand their international production experience.

Due to be released in December next year, Star Wars: Episode VII is the latest international movie to film in Abu Dhabi, and to benefit from support from the Abu Dhabi Film Commission, including the 30 percent production rebate.

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