By Frédéric COMPAIN


Documentary - Completed 2014

Two films to tell the incredible tale of the metamorphosis of the Gulf’s emirates. Once villages, Doha, Abu Dhabi and Dubai have hoisted themselves into the highest ranks of international finance, culture, education and diplomacy, and have become the Middle East’s most dynamic centers.

    • Year of production
    • 2014
    • Genres
    • Documentary, Historical
    • Countries
    • Languages
    • Budget
    • N/A
    • Duration
    • 104 mn
    • Director(s)
    • Frédéric COMPAIN
    • Writer(s)
    • Benjamin LANDSBEGER, Frédéric COMPAIN
    • Producer(s)
    • Olivier MILLE (Artline Films), Talal AL-MUHANNA (Linked Productions)
    • Synopsis
    • Our two documentary films will tell the incredible tale of the metamorphosis of the Persian Gulf’s leading cities through the last century until today.
      Two films to uncover how and why three coastal villages of the Middle East have hoisted them-selves into the highest ranks of international finance, education, innovation, and diplomacy.
      The first film will focus on the historical background of the exponential growth of Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Doha. As we explore their more distant past, we will discover how they had already become flourishing and globalised centers of trade in the time of the pearl trade. The sudden collapse of the “white gold” market was a terrible blow. The Gulf’s Arabian coast only recovered with the miraculous discovery of oil. Then history accelera-ted amazingly: “A century in 30 years”, says one observer of the time, “We could see a time coming when there wouldn’t be enough sand in the desert to build all our dreams”. As early as the 1960s, the Sheikhs start imagining a post-oil world: how will they survive this time, when their main source of wealth will disappear once again?
      Our second film unveils the Sheikhs’ dreams for the future. The ruling dynasties of Qatar and the United Arab Emirates share the same assets: a small population, huge oil and gas reserves, political stability, limited religious turmoil. They have followed the same development path: spectacular investments at home and abroad, diplomatic activism on all of the Middle-East’s conflicts. They have become experts in “soft power”, stayed away from the region’s succession of wars and crisis, and even escaped the turmoil of the “Arab Spring”. They have managed to adapt constantly to the world’s most explosive geopolitical environment. Using visibility and influence to promote their own safety, they have become indispensable players in key sectors of the global economy: finance, transport, sports, con-gresses, green technologies, contemporary art… For Western and Asian powers, they are not just suppliers anymore, but partners. In the Arab world, they are no longer just builders, they want to become role models.
    • Partners & financing
    • Arte France (attached)
      RTS (attached)
      Doha Film Institute (attached)
      MEDIA (attached)
Distribution Country
Release date
Local title
Company Country Roles