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The Rise of the Gulf / Beyond Black Gold

Spring Grant 2013 - Production Stage
Current project status: Production

Frédéric Compain / Feature Documentary / United Arab Emirates, France, Qatar / 2013 / 104 min / Colour / Original Language: Arabic, English, French / Interests: Documentary, History


Two films to tell the incredible tale of the metamorphosis of the Gulf’s emirates over the course of the last century until today. Doha, Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Sharjah… Once villages, these fast-growing cities have hoisted themselves into the highest ranks of international finance, culture, education and diplomacy, and have become the Middle East’s most dynamic centres. The first film will focus on the historical background of the exponential growth of the Gulf’s emirates. As we explore their recent past, we will discover that their vision of the post-oil era has been shaped by a previous, difficult transition – the collapse of pearl trade, for centuries the main source of prosperity. But the discovery of oil opened up a whole new era. History suddenly sped up: ‘100 years in 30’, in the words of one historian. With economic growth came political independence. A new generation of rulers appeared, with a vision for the Gulf’s future. Their ambition is to achieve sustainable growth without relying only on hydrocarbon reserves. The second film unveils the Sheikhs’ dreams for the future. They have considered the post-oil era much more thoughtfully than most of their foreign customers. But they still have to cope with the region’s instability: three wars in three decades. This has led to subtle but often efficient diplomacy, now a key to more enduring peace around them. Through their investments and ‘soft power’, the Gulf’s emirates have become indispensable not only to the Middle East, but also to the rest of the world. Not just as suppliers, but as partners. No longer just builders, but role models.


Frédéric Compain
Frédéric Compain
Talal Al-Muhanna, Olivier Mille

About the Director

Since 1974, award-winning filmmaker Frédéric Compain has directed many documentary and fiction films for cinema and television. He had previously made documentaries in collaboration with major cultural institutions, including ‘Delacroix: My Last Years’ (1998) and ‘The Battle of the Pyramid’ (1999) with the Louvre; ‘Casa Mila’ (2003) with the Musée d’Orsay and ‘Iris Time’ (2003) with the Centre Georges Pompidou. His interests range from architecture (‘The Alhambra of Granada’, 2006) to history (‘Louis XVI’, 2011; ‘Versailles, the Golden Years’, 2009) and international economic issues (‘Airbus-EADS’, 2009).


  • Main Contact

    Talal Al-Muhanna

    Linked Productions
    +965 2522 0651

Questions regarding this project?


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