What about a sequel to the film ‘City of Life’—but shot in the mountains and on the sea of the United Arab Emirates by the same director, Ali F Mostafa?
Faisal (played by UAE TV personality, Saoud Al Ka’abi) is a ‘privileged Emirati’ who finds that the snares of Dubai’s power, beauty, wealth and ambition lure him away from his religion and traditions. His frustrated father (played by Habib Ghuloom) is saddened by the way his son has humiliated the family and he says in desperation, “Sometimes I feel you are a complete stranger to me.”
Towards the end of the film Faisal drives out of the city and, parking his car parallel to the mountains of the UAE, at the base of which is a mosque (pictured), the young Emirati enters into deep reflection.
Some viewers concluded that this, like several other scenes, was melodramatic. A synopsis says about the film: “‘City of Life’ reveals how unexpected tragedy and loss can lead to hope and profound transformation…”
Perhaps this scene is a turning point but viewers are left hanging and wondering whether genuine transformation does take place.
After a film that centred on the city, this scene suggests a sequel set in the countryside, the desert and the coastland of the Emirates.
Leaving the shiny towers of Dubai Faisal goes on pilgrimage among the massive Hajar Mountains to recover his roots, learn his traditions and acquire a moral compass.
While one of the motifs of ‘City of Life’ is the Bollywood Café presenting lookalikes to people fixated on appearances, setting a new film among the mountains and along the coasts of the UAE gives ample opportunity to portray authentic Emirati culture.
The answer is not to stay in the mountains and escape the city but how young Emiratis can be upheld by their heritage in a rapidly changing country is a pressing question.
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Image: From the film ‘City of Life’.