City of Life (2009) Poster

City of Life (2009)

  • Rate: 6.7/10 total 596 votes 
  • Genre: Drama | Romance
  • Release Date: 23 September 2010 (Kuwait)
  • Filming Location: Dubai International Airport, Dubai, United Arab Emirates
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City of Life (2009)


City of Life 2009tt1159926.jpg poster

  • IMDb page: City of Life (2009)
  • Rate: 6.7/10 total 596 votes 
  • Genre: Drama | Romance
  • Release Date: 23 September 2010 (Kuwait)
  • Filming Location: Dubai International Airport, Dubai, United Arab Emirates
  • Director: Ali F. Mostafa
  • Stars: Alexandra Maria Lara, Sonu Sood and Saoud Al Kaabi
  • Original Music By: Matthew Faddy  Barry Kirsch   
  • Sound Mix: Dolby Digital
  • Plot Keyword: Dubai | Arab | Taxi Driver | Betrayal | Car Crash

Writing Credits By:

    (in alphabetical order)

  • Jonny Brown  screenplay
  • Ali F. Mostafa  story and screenplay
  • Gerry Sherard  written by
  • Tim Smythe  screenplay

Known Trivia

  • Natalia is from Bucharest. Alexandra Maria Lara, who plays Natalia, was born in Bucharest.

Plot: A privileged young male Arab at odds with his cultural identity and his less fortunate street smart… See more » |  »

Story: A privileged young male Arab at odds with his cultural identity and his less fortunate street smart friend; a disillusioned Indian taxi driver who bears an uncanny resemblance to a famous Bollywood star; and a former Romanian ballet dancer now working as a flight attendant and searching for love and companionship … these individuals all live in Dubai and their lives are about to collide for better or for worse in a city where ambition, growth and opportunity are encouraged and dreams can still manifest. "City of Life" is an urban drama that tracks the various intersections of a multi-ethnic cast, examining how random interactions and their consequences can irrevocably impact another's life. As the name suggests, City of Life's inordinately humane kaleidoscope of converging experiences introduces a city that is in itself a living pulsating character. "City of Life"…Written by Tanya Wagner  

FullCast & Crew

Produced By:

  • Leigh Clarke known as producer
  • Ali F. Mostafa known as producer
  • Tim Smythe known as producer
  • Julie Treacy known as producer: EPK
  • Tanya Wagner known as associate producer

FullCast & Crew:

  • Alexandra Maria Lara known as Natalia Moldovan
  • Sonu Sood known as Basu
  • Saoud Al Kaabi known as Faisal
  • Jason Flemyng known as Guy Berger
  • Natalie Dormer known as Olga
  • The Narcicyst known as Khalfan (as Yassin 'The Narcisyst' Alsalman)
  • Ahmed Ahmed known as Nasser
  • Javed Jaffrey known as Mr. Khan (as Jaaved Jaaferi)
  • Susan George known as Constance
  • Habib Ghuloom known as Faisal's Father
  • Ahmed Abdullah known as Rashid
  • Saleh Al Dhahiri known as Abdul
  • Har Taimor known as Abdul's Brother
  • Nitin Mirani known as Kashmiri Cabbie
  • Ahmed Alkhoori known as Rich Friend 1 (as Ahmed Khoori)
  • Abdulaziz Al Kaabi known as Rich Friend 2 (as Abdal Aziz Al Kaabi)
  • Mahmoud Abas Ali known as Very Buff Local
  • Safar Zahedi known as Well Built Arab 2
  • Christopher Davison known as Raj
  • Rohit Jayakaran known as Babu
  • Jasmin Ruhling known as Fatima
  • Ali Khamis known as Mustafa 'Grocer'
  • Shamsud P.K. Een known as Wiry Indian Waiter (as Shamsud PK Een)
  • Clarita de Quiroz known as Asian Girl 1
  • Meri An Malmis known as Asian Girl 2
  • Bahiya Watban known as Khalfan's Grandmother
  • David Chant known as Senior Steward
  • J.R. Itlas known as Old Filipino (as JR Itlas)
  • Eric Dury known as Surgeon
  • Ashok Sagar known as Indian Foreman
  • Georgia Fanucci known as Chantelle Berger
  • Sunil Jasuja known as Ashok
  • Alex Gee known as Rajeev
  • Goutam Mukherjee known as Indian Chaffeur
  • Caitlin Hughes known as Kerry
  • Zoe Richards known as Zoe
  • Sarah Kilalea known as Emma
  • Kubra Sait known as Bollywood Fantasy Starlet
  • Natasha Kemball known as Dance Mistress
  • Michael J. Wright known as Agency Graphic Designer (as Mike Wright)
  • Mohammed Ahmed Saleh known as Mutowa
  • Majid Salem Ahmed known as Skinny Friend
  • Scott Trees known as Natalia's Doctor
  • Prashant Kumar known as TV Producer
  • Bryan MacKenzie known as Pearson
  • Alison Maynard known as Pearson's Wife
  • Kaival Doshi known as Indian Kid 1
  • Druv Ashok Doshi known as Indian Kid 2
  • Gary 'Si-Jo' Foo known as Nightclub Manager (as Gary Foo)
  • Stephanie Morrison known as Nightclub Hostess
  • Borisloav Bogdanov known as Nightclub Barman
  • Dhiraj Pagarani known as Teenage Indian Boy 1
  • Vishal Mahesh known as Teenage Indian Boy 2
  • Mat Corral known as Employee 1
  • Nelson Lobo known as Employee 2
  • Harib Mohammed Khalifa Al Kitbi known as Old Bedouin
  • Gautam Goenka known as Bollywood Assistant Dir.
  • Rohit Prakesh known as Indian Production Assistant
  • Mazhar Qayyum known as Bollywood Director
  • Nomair A. Kashif known as Bollywood Fantasy Villian (as Nomair A Kashif)
  • Mohanned Ahmed Mbany Hathel known as Handsome Local
  • Rachel D'Souza known as Receptionist
  • Mudassar Hussein Mohamed known as Bollywood Café Performer
  • Hilary Pinto known as Male Indian Secretary
  • Pierro Niel-Mee known as Deaf Teenager (scenes deleted)
  • Samira Mesbahi known as Deaf Teenager's Mother (scenes deleted)
  • Bhisham Manuskhani known as Auditioning Actor
  • Alina Mustafina known as Khan Girl 1
  • Zhamilya Basar known as Khan Girl 2
  • Ramy Hamdar known as Lebanese Friend 1
  • Wael Ltani known as Lebanese Friend 2
  • Habib Hossein Dalavari known as Persian Boy 1
  • Mostafa Zahedi known as Persian Boy 2
  • Abdolrezagh Zahedi known as Persian Boy 3
  • Mohannad Huthail known as The handsome local
  • Preeti Aparaj known as Dancer (uncredited)
  • Prarthana Balgopal known as Dancer (uncredited)
  • Kaamna Bhatia known as Dancer (uncredited)
  • Mahesh Dhanjani known as Dancer (uncredited)
  • Michelle Gough known as Receptionist (uncredited)
  • Jai Manghlani known as Dancer (uncredited)
  • Bindi Mehta known as Dancer (uncredited)
  • Shihab Mohammad known as Dancer (uncredited)
  • Lina Valancia Nunes known as Dancer (uncredited)
  • Maitri Shah known as Dancer (uncredited)
  • Abbas Shaikh known as Dancer (uncredited)
  • Sanjana Soman known as Dancer (uncredited)
  • Rita Thansir known as Dancer (uncredited)



Supporting Department

Makeup Department:
  • Jane Blewett known as key make up & hair
  • Helga Bosman known as make-up and hair assistant: second unit
  • Sheila Guillarmo known as make-up and hair assistant: second unit
  • Claire Raison known as make-up and hair assistant: second unit
  • Renata Retrova known as make-up and hair assistant: second unit
  • Claire Roddie known as make-up and hair assistant
  • Sarah Jane Thompson known as make-up and hair assistant

Art Department:

  • Salim Al Razouk known as prop master
  • Ashley Borders known as prop assistant
  • Megan Brinsley known as assistant set dresser
  • Joel Dimagiba known as prop assistant
  • Stevan Eapen known as swing gang
  • Joanna Howes known as set dresser
  • Erwin Jacintho known as art department runner
  • Achmed Karouni known as swing gang
  • Elizabeth Mendez Tovar known as prop assistant
  • Talal Abdullah Qasem known as assistant set dresser
  • Daniella van Brussel known as assistant art director




Production Companies:

  • Afmfilms (executive production)
  • FilmWorks (co-production)

Other Companies:

  • Abis Studio  digital intermediate
  • Abis Studio  the producers wish to thank
  • Abis Studios  post-production
  • Audiolink Radio Communications  walkie talkies
  • BKP Music  the producers wish to thank
  • Chimney Pot  the producers wish to thank
  • Dubai Airports Company  the producers wish to thank
  • Dubai Civil Defense  the producers wish to thank
  • Dubai Culture and Arts Authority  the producers wish to thank
  • Dubai Duty Free  the producers wish to thank
  • Dubai Muncipality  the producers wish to thank
  • Dubai Police  the producers wish to thank
  • Dubai Studio City  the producers wish to thank
  • Eat to the Beat  catering
  • Filmquip Media  the producers wish to thank
  • Gate Media Films  the producers wish to thank
  • Kodak Cinelabs Dubai  the producers wish to thank
  • Nakheel  the producers wish to thank
  • National Media Council  the producers wish to thank
  • Optix Digital Pictures  the producers wish to thank
  • Pepsi-Cola International  the producers wish to thank
  • Pyranha Stunts  stunt team
  • Rights Lawyers  the producers wish to thank
  • Xische Studios  film brand identity
  • Xische Studios  social media marketing
  • Xische Studios  website sponsored by
  • Xische  the producers wish to thank
  • Xpanse CGI  DVD menu design
  • Xpanse CGI  DVD package design
  • Xpanse CGI  social media marketing (dvd)


  • Cinemax (2011) (Hungary) (TV)



Other Stuff

Visual Effects by:
  • Nassim Azadi known as 3D artist
  • Videv Digambernath known as 3D artist
  • Mohammad Ghorbankarimi known as VFX Supervisor
  • Adriana Ionica known as VFX Supervisor
  • Rohit Kataky known as 3D tracking
  • Willy Leonardo known as 3D artist
  • Pietro Marchioni known as visual effects artist
  • Mehrdad Tavakkolian known as 3D artist

Release Date:

  • United Arab Emirates 11 December 2009 (Dubai International Film Festival)
  • Kuwait 23 September 2010
  • Canada 2 October 2010 (Vancouver International Film Festival)
  • Hungary 31 August 2011 (TV premiere)



Filmography links and data courtesy of The Internet Movie Database

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Posted on March 30, 2012 by Harry in Movies | Tags: , , .


  1. bozo2bozo2 from United States
    30 Mar 2012, 1:43 pm

    This is a "Crash"-style story of lives in Dubai, set, apparently, justbefore the financial crash. Although it resembles, somewhat, "Crash,"it manages to pull away from the most obvious clichés as it unfoldsthree or four representative stories from some of the major populationswho live and work in the city. The low rating (currently 4.5) isentirely unjustified; it's a solid, competent work with only a few offnotes, and in many ways it represents the arrival of first-classfilm-making to the Emirates. Each of the three major plots – Emirati,European-expat, and Indian-expat – have a strong narrative arc, andeach come to a satisfying, if not always happy, end. In all, it's afascinating view into worlds rarely, if ever, depicted on the worldscreen.

  2. Tristan Marchetti from United Arab Emirates
    30 Mar 2012, 1:43 pm

    I've convinced my movie-addict French neighbor to come discovering thefirst Emirati movie with me last night and we've both been thrilled bythis experience! We've both been living in Dubai for a few years andeverything in this movie was talking to us: the character, the story,the atmosphere and the sets of course. Debuting director Ali F. Mostafahas done an excellent work in depicting these different lives and theirdestiny in this cosmopolitan city, capturing smartly the essence of theDubai "cultural melting pot" without falling in the stereotype. Actingwas good in general for the whole cast (special mention to YassinAlsalman aka Khalfan and Sonu Sood aka Basu), the photography wascapturing Dubai atmosphere with just the right tone and the coolsoundtrack was giving a arty note to the movie, reminding me a bit ofwhat is being done in the US independent production the last years(Anderson or Reitman). City of Life is not free of defects though: thefighting scenes look a bit like cartoon (watch the local martial art indish dash!), the social class rivalry between Emiratis would havebenefited from further development and some elapse effect in thenarration dilute the emotional impact of certain scenes (the scene withNatalia at the hospital), but these minor reproaches do not erode thepleasure you will feel watching City of Life and remember this is onlythe first movie of Ali F. Mostafa! Now would this movie talk tosomebody not living in Dubai? I would say definitely yes as City ofLife stands alone as a good piece of cinematography with a captivatingstory. I hope this movie will get the chance to have an internationalcareer and I wish foreign audience will witness the birth of a newtalented Emirati director as we did yesterday. Spread the word!!!

  3. bhatian ( from Dubai, United Arab Emirates
    30 Mar 2012, 1:43 pm

    Prior to viewing this film in the cinema in Dubai, I had already heardsome good reviews of the film having a potential to enter mainstreamcinema. Therefore last night I decided on viewing this film withoutexpecting much.

    The storytelling is basically similar to the likes of Babel and Crash,and the film style is "done that, did that". In spite of all thesimilarities I was impressed by production quality and cinematography.Film touches on lives of three people living in Dubai, and theirexperiences based on their dreams. Dubai has always been a city ofdream rather than a city of life, where people come to fulfill theirdream on making more money, buying a bigger better car and home, orsimply living a lavish life. This has been well portrayed in the film.

    The acting quality is excellent and the costumes, make-ups, andproduction designs are all well picked. But somehow watching this filmin a cinema felt a bit awkward as it had a television production feelrather than cinema house quality. My overall experience just likeeveryone else was good.

    I recommend you watch this film if you have never lived in Dubai, as itdoes speak out well about Dubai's lifestyle and the dreams people carryhere. Dubai is simply a place for dreamers and its best lived short andsweet.

    My score: 6 out of 10

    Neeil Bhatia

  4. Faisal Khatib from United Arab Emirates
    30 Mar 2012, 1:43 pm

    Directed, written and produced by Ali F. Mostafa, a UAE based filmmaker, being the first Emirati full length feature, I was lookingforward to seeing how Dubai had been depicted

    It revolves around the life of an Emirati called Faisal (played bySaoud Al Kaabi) who's unsure about his identity in society, an Indiantaxi driver called Basu (played by Sonu Sood) dreaming to become a bigIndian actor, a flight attendant called Natalia Moldovan (played byAlexandra Maria Lara) looking for companionship and an old Filipinocardboard collector (played by Itlanas Jr) and how their lives convergein the end for better or worse.

    'City of life' is a drama set in the urban environment that is Dubai.How people from different cultural/ethnic backgrounds are trying tofind themselves, figure things out and live. It also shows how certainactions and their reactions leads to a domino effect in their liveswhere some find hope and some find a reason to live.

    Saoud Al Kaabi played his role well though he was completely overshadowed by Yassin Alsalman who plays his aggressive emotional friendto perfection. Sonu Sood as the taxi driver dreaming big was good inpatches as I thought at some points in the film he could have showedmore emotions to get the viewers really involved in his plight.Alexandra Maria Lara and Jason Flemyng (playing the playboy Guy Berger)were not very convincing while Natalie Dormer (playing Natalia'sroommate Olga) was quite good in comparison. Ahmed Ahmed (playingrestaurant owner Nasser) and Javed Jaffery (playing Suresh Khan) didn'thave big enough roles to make any impact on the viewer while HabibGhuloom (playing Faisal's father) was quite poor in his single style ofdialog delivery but I suppose his role didn't have anything else tooffer either.

    For a person who's directing his first full length feature, Ali F.Mostafa did a fantastic job. I love the opening bicycle scene and theway he incorporated shots from old Dubai i.e. Satwa with the modernDubai i.e. SZR road. I also like the way he included the various pointof views and lifestyles i.e. covering the local, western and Asian. Thestory was well written though a little cliché but then that is Dubai ina lot of ways. The camera work in some places was a bit shaky but maybethat's how they wanted it to be.

    What I didn't like about the movie was that it seemed to be justanother thing out of the UAE that was trying to promote 'Brand Dubai'.I know most movies do that when it comes to the locations they use andI'm being a little too critical about it but I just felt it could havebeen avoided in some areas.

    It was a nice night out. A movie I recommend to any person who's livedin the UAE or the gulf even if you might not be able to relate to anyof the characters cause just watching Dubai on the big screen andtrying to figure out the various locations is fun in its own way plusyou get a good story to enjoy on the side…

  5. jenny-651 from United Arab Emirates
    30 Mar 2012, 1:43 pm

    I went to see the movie last night and I was very pleasantly surprised.The movie depicts well the real Dubai. The characters painted feel soreal that sometimes during the movie I was reminded of people that Ihave crossed during my time in Dubai. For people who don't know Dubai,a character or two might seem 'cliches' like the British playboy or theRussian pretty girl who is only interested in men with money… butthose that live in Dubai know that these people do actually exist here,probably more than anywhere else.

    The writers managed to make all the characters seem true and move theviewer. City of Life portrays a diverse and vibrant city and a messageof compassion seem to emanate of it. On top of that it gives anopportunity to see the lives of groups of people that you don't see inreality like Emiratis and gives us a chance to understand each otherbetter.

    I really invite you to go watch it.

  6. Ali B from United States
    30 Mar 2012, 1:43 pm

    Arab film fest DC. To my surprise there's an Emirati movie with a notso bad blurb. Decide to go check it out, hoping it's not clichéd orderivative.

    In short, movie was really really good. I was pretty much glued to thescreen. Script was very smart and intertwined 3 story lines, and whileit felt slightly forced in some parts it wasn't distracting.Cinematography was great, humor was intact and soundtrack for the mostpart was on key.

    As a Kuwaiti that grew up in the US, then lived in the UAE and Kuwait,only to come back to the US I feel very drawn to this movie. I actuallyfeel this movie was made for my generation ofEnglish-as-a-first-language Arabs. Was very impressed, and glad that Iwent. While I wouldn't say this movie redefines cinema, it definitelyshines as a stand alone title with enough originality to inspire futureattempts from the Gulf.

    Highly recommended.

  7. charley26 from Dubai.United Arab Emirates
    30 Mar 2012, 1:43 pm

    Everything from the first shot made me think this would be a movie ofsubstance and it did live up-to my expectations. Being born and livedall my life in Dubai would be I would know a thing or two about thecity and every All the characters did a remarkable job filling theircharacters with naturality, special mention to three of the holdingcharacters,protagonists of the film namely Yassin(Khalfan),Saoud(Faisal) and Sonu(Basu). I think its absolutely great to havefilms made like this which bring out the essence and feel of ametropolitan city like Dubai. The fact that the city and its lightshave been depicted in the tone that it is shows the director knew theshade of how it had to be, had a vision of the final product. Niceslick piece of cinematography all through.

    Kudos to Ali n the nice work he has given us! Great stirring film!

  8. ianmat from United Arab Emirates
    30 Mar 2012, 1:43 pm

    Feature-length films from competent Arab directors are rare. This oneis both rare and good. My wife worked hard to persuade me to see thefilm after having seen it herself the day before. It is at firstoff-putting watching a film financed by product placement – largely dueto my fellow similar goers cackling "ooh, that's Cat Boy and GeordieBird" and a rather staged scene in a ballet school, but the filmquickly reaches its stride.

    This film leaves every local watcher of all nationalities nodding andsaying 'so true'. Like the film, Dubai isn't perfect by any means, butthat doesn't mean both aren't great.

    It is a film about dreamers and their dreams, but set in almost reallife. The Bollywood wannabe taxi driver Basu (perhaps the bestportrayal in the film), the frustratingly wooden Natalia, playboy andeventual arch-villain Guy Berger: all have different dreams. For me,though, the Emirati characters steal the show. Summing up the brash yetuncertain confidence of this country and showing the true heart of theEmirati population. The final scenes involving Faisal, Khalfan andtheir families bring a tear to my eye every time. Just don't tell thewife.

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