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In a galaxy far, far away floats the isolated planet of Jakku. However, you don’t need to leave Earth’s atmosphere and go to the western reaches of the Star Wars galaxy to find the dramatic rolling dunes and endless ethereal plains of this far-flung rock. You just need to visit Abu Dhabi.

Some of the scenes in Star Wars: The Force Awakens were shot in the emirate’s westernmost region of Al Dhafra, in the world’s largest uninterrupted sand mass, the Rub’ al Khali, also known as the Empty Quarter. Al Wathba Fossil Dunes’ eerie and ethereal landscape also played a role in the film.

“@1.5x“Filming in Abu Dhabi was an incredible thing. Star Wars is a Western and a fairy tale, and shooting in Abu Dhabi was just that!”

- J.J. Abrams,

— Director

Director J.J. Abrams and the cast flew to Abu Dhabi in early May 2014 as production on the seventh episode of the nine-part Skywalker saga kicked off. Hundreds of local and international cast and crew worked on the movie in Abu Dhabi, with key production staff working closely with twofour54, part of Abu Dhabi’s Media Zone Authority. 

A combination of diverse desert landscapes and extensive, state-of-the-art production infrastructure provided the perfect formula for the movie, ensuring the shoot ran smoothly and on schedule. The global movie phenomenon premiered in December 2015 and quickly became the fastest film to gross more than US$1 billion.

One thing’s for sure, the Force is strong in Abu Dhabi…