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The Force awakens in Abu Dhabi

31st March 2015 Print
Qasr Al Sarab

Film companies employ people whose sole job is to scour the world looking for filming locations which feature stunning scenery, with great light and reliable weather; which is why all the desert scenes in the seventh Star Wars film, The Force Awakens, due for release on 18 December this year, was filmed in Abu Dhabi.

The storyline of Episode VII will not become clear until the trailer will be released, but it is set 30 years after the events of the Return of the Jedi episode.

Whilst trying to keep the precise location secret, sources close to the production said that a massive set was created on a flatbed ‘sabkha’ area between the massive dunes behind Qasr Al Sarab hotel in Liwa.

Director J.J. Abrams and the cast flew to Abu Dhabi in April last year and the military like operation, which lasted for two months, involved hundreds of local and international cast and crew.

Comments Hugh Fraser, Founder of Middle East and North Africa specialist tour operator Corinthian Travel: “I’m not at all surprised that they used the area around the Qasr Al Sarab Hotel, it is a stunning location.

“There you are in a luxurious five-star hotel in the middle of the desert with sand dunes as far as the eye can see; it really is like a lost palace, a genuine Arabian Nights style fantasy experience.”

Three nights are spent at the Qasr Al Sarab hotel on Corinthian Travel’s week-long two centre Abu Dhabi and the Empty Quarter itinerary.

The private tour starts with a four-night stay by the beach at Abu Dhabi’s luxurious St. Regis Saadiyat Island Resort, which is just 15 minutes from the city centre.

Abu Dhabi experiences will include a cruise on a traditional pearling dhow, a visit to the Sheikh Zayed Mosque (an architectural masterpiece sometimes likened to the Taj Mahal), the opulent Emirates Palace and lunch at the gravity-defying Capital Gate Tower.

The second part of the holiday is spent at the Qasr Al Sarab which is a two-hour drive away to experience the true romance of Arabia.

Based in the largest sandy desert on the planet you can just relax by the pool in the silent wilderness or perhaps try one of the activities on offer which include falconry, 4WD drives, desert walks, camel safaris, and mountain biking.

The holiday costs from £1325 pp (two sharing) which includes all land transportation on a private, chauffeur-driven basis, seven-nights’ B&B, half-day privately guided sightseeing tour of Abu Dhabi and Pearling dhow cruise (shared basis).

Flights not included (bookable through Corinthian Travel on request).

For more information, visit

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Qasr Al Sarab