Branding the global image: filmmaking and complicating national identity in the UAE

Alobthani, Mohammed (2021). Branding the global image: filmmaking and complicating national identity in the UAE. University of Birmingham. Ph.D.

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In the neoliberal era, many cities and countries have realised the great importance of culture for the soft power and a new strategy for branding place and shaping its identity to match their competitiveness in the global market. The United Arab Emirates, especially Dubai and Abu Dhabi, is working to prepare and take advantage of cultural products, especially cinema, to shape its image and increase its global standing as an emerging power.

This research centres on the film industries in Dubai and Abu Dhabi (as well as the UAE and the Middle East more widely); specifically, it investigates the relationship between place branding, soft power, and cinema, and how these relationships impact on local, regional and national identities in the context of Neoliberalism. This research draws upon the political and economic and cultural concepts to interrogate the relationship between the cultural image and identity in multiple aspects. It considers this from a standpoint of the neoliberal system in the region, and through the local institutions, political agency, and individual actors.

The flourishing film industry in the United Arab Emirates and the Arabian Gulf has been linked with cultural institutions and initiatives such as the Dubai International Film Festival, which have created an exceptional brand for the place. However, these branding processes create gaps between local, regional, and global identities. The thesis explores how place branding strategies deployed through cinema are used to increase regional and global standing, whilst also examining how local filmmakers use film as a field to experience, express, negotiate, represent and reflect on their identities as Emiratis while at the same time seeking a wide audience to satisfy the government’s objectives.

Type of Work: Thesis (Doctorates > Ph.D.)
Award Type: Doctorates > Ph.D.
Licence: All rights reserved
College/Faculty: Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Arts & Law
School or Department: School of English, Drama and Creative Studies, Department of Film and Creative Writing
Funders: None/not applicable
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GN Anthropology
H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
J Political Science > JQ Political institutions Asia
N Fine Arts > N Visual arts (General) For photography, see TR


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