Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Want to Know Dubai? Watch ‘City of Life’!

two *emirati buddies; one a rich ferrari-driving arab, one a less-fortunate arab. a romanian stewardess searching for love, and an indian cab-driver with a bollywood dream. their lives verged in an instant; in the colorful city of life; DUBAI.

(*rakyat united arab emirates (UAE) dipanggil emirati)

‘city of life’ is a movie that seems to be a BIG deal to dubai and a big historical moment for UAE, as it is :

  1. the first emirati full-length feature
  2. set entirely in dubai
  3. directed by an emirati (a young 28-year old ali mustafa)
  4. multi-million dollar budget
  5. international cast
  6. multi-lingual – arabic, english and hindi


(aku cuma wonder, so sebelum ni, diorang memang tak pernah buat filem ke? mungkin buat drama je kot.)



in this movie, the bestfriends faisal and khalfan represent the 2 different sides of the emiratis – and the opening scene of the movie tells us this.

faisal sent khalfan to his house; a middle class arab whose kitchen is even more downtrodden than mine!

meanwhile faisal is the rich kid, driving a ferrari, easily took over his dad’s business without even breaking a sweat looking for jobs on his own. after sending khalfan to his small ‘villa’, we see him arriving in his huge, luxurious mansion.

two arabs, two different lifestyle. bukan semua arab ni kaya-kaya. and ali mostafa the director of ‘city of life’ wants to show the reality.

‘city of life’, other than making history as UAE’s first feature film, also received criticism for portraying the arabs in a negative light.

the characters faisal and khalfan are like any other youths in their glory – they smoke, they get into fights, they rempit and place bets, they show the middle finger when angry, missing prayers, and go to clubs while hitting on hot mat saleh!

arabs. mat saleh. melayu. sama je. yang nakal tu, nakal. yang baik tu, baik.


director & script writer of ‘city of life’, ali mostafa. cute, huh?


* * *

the main characters

faisal & khalfan


i love the intense friendship between the two emirati; faisal the rich kid (white turban), and khalfan, the street-smart hot-head. by the end of the story their brotherhood love will definitely leave you in tears…

favorite quote :

faisal just came to pick up khalfan at his home, when they met khalfan’s grandma who just came back from the shop. when they drove off…

faisal : shit! i sure have no manners! i didn't help her with the groceries!
khalfan : (smiling cynically) brother faisal, pray 5 times a day and grow a beard, and then i'll think of having this conversation. now drive!


basu, indian cab-driver


basu is the indian cab driver who looks like a bollywood star peter patel. opportunity and glory always seemed just within reach for him, but never quite. his journey would be very tough, and sangat kesian – but in the end you’ll find yourself cheering with him…

favorite quote :

basu is struggling to get to an audition on time to get a part in a bollywood movie. he’s in a cab.

basu : boss, everyone has their own dreams. i'm sure you do too. if you get me there on time, maybe it will change my life.
cab driver : change your life? stop dreaming! wake up!
basu : (resigns in frustration) i don't need to wake up. i dream with my eyes open.


natalie & guy


natalie, a sweet-natured romanian stewardess ready to fall in love. meeting guy berger, an advertising divorcee seems like a dream come true. we follow her cloud nine as she learns that everything is not a bed of roses…

favorite quote :

natalie and her roomate olga, talking about guy berger, the ‘playboy’ natalie is currently seeing.

natalie : it's all happening a bit fast, but it's lovely. i'm happy when i'm with him, and i miss him when i'm not.
olga : i just never thought he was your type. you know, the high-roller with the sports car..
natalie : what is my type then?
olga : cammon nat, he's so smooth he could sell sand to the arabs!


perhaps dubai has always been put on a pedestal as a wealthy nation with luxurious living – but what ali mostafa has done is to give the taste of the real raw life of dubai. this is what goes down. arabs do get down and dirty. people come to dubai with soaring dreams but do get crushed. stewardess living the high-glamorous life do stumble and hit rock-bottom.

it explores the lives of the 3 main group of people in dubai – the locals (emirati), the indians, and the expats. these groups live, and work together in this city but never really connects. 

however, in ‘city of life’ these 3 lives converge in an upsetting scene that sets to move you. congrats ali mostafa for creating believable characters that audience can relate to, and come to care. kudos for the awesome cinematography that shows dubai’s many angles. if this is the start of dubai’s historical cinema – it looks pretty good.

* * *

if you live in dubai, this movie is a must for you to watch. for the rest, if you wanna take a peek into dubai’s life and times, give a go. either way, you’d be entertained, amused, inspired and touched.

watch the trailer here :


firahadifa said...

wow.. interesting... nk nengok la

HaLiMaTuN SaAdIaH said...

Macam best jer.. Bila tayang kat international?

Anonymous said...

Aslmkm Syigim.
Pretty interesting.
Ali Mostafa must have been quite exposed to international livelihood in the West (almost everywhere we go to, we meet up with the Arab community). Perhaps he wants to instill a better understanding of reality, (i.e. they are just as human as any other race) particularly among his people.

lina said...

salam syigim - cam best jer..nak kena tengok ni :)

ICA said...

Yuppp, Ali Mostafa is cute :))

Pala Maldini said...

sound nice... mana nak dapat movie ni ? any download site available :-)

btw, ali mutofa tu iras2 Jimmy Shanley la..

The Juggling Queen said...

hahaha.. dah tgk dah hr tu! :)

but x sempat beli dvd.. nak buat collection. kirim bole x syigim?

Syigim said...

>> firahadifa, yes, very interesting esp. utk kita2 yg dah duk dubai ni. seronok tgk all the familiar places yg kita nmpak kat dubai :)

>> halimatun, movie ni dah abis tayangan kot. so xtau la sampai ke malaysia or not. tp my husband tgk movie ni pun dlm flight under intl movie.. :)

Syigim said...

>> salam kak G. exactly my thoughts - about ali mostafa havin west exposure.. so he has a more open mind about showing the realities of his own kind. at the same time instilling moral values that is still uphold by the older generation. :)

>> kak lina, mmg best! ade sikit2 hindustand, sikit2 citer arab & citer omputeh :)

Syigim said...

>> ica, yesssss he's soooo cute! :) & single i think! haha

>> pala maldini, ade la iras2 sbb jimmy shanley pun ade muka2 arab kan :)

nways, movie ni mmg boleh dimuat-turun. cuba google ;)

Syigim said...

>> fairus, best kan! first time tgk movie local. i love the khalfan character!

i 'muat-turun' je! haven't looked for the dvd yet. kalau ade mmg i get few for you & for myself! :)

Ermayum said...

belum pernah lagi tgk cite dubai :) first movie ever eh?

nELitA. said...

Just blogwalking and WOW! i didn't know there was this film. Thanks. I'll definitely watch it.

Btw, i like your blog. I hope you wouldn't mind me following.

Keep posting!

Syigim said...

hi nelita, you're welcome to follow my stories hihi ;)

yes, watch it esp since you live in dubai :)

check out these postings too!

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