Documentary series highlights UAE’s rich, unknown past 

Documentary series highlights UAE’s rich, unknown past 
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The "History of the Emirates" series is narrated by Academy Award-winner Jeremy Irons and presented by Image Nation Abu Dhabi and produced by Atlantic Productions. (AN Photo/Tarek Ali Ahmad)
Documentary series highlights UAE’s rich, unknown past 
2 / 2
The "History of the Emirates" series is narrated by Academy Award-winner Jeremy Irons and presented by Image Nation Abu Dhabi and produced by Atlantic Productions. (AN Photo/Tarek Ali Ahmad)
Updated 03 December 2019

Documentary series highlights UAE’s rich, unknown past 

Documentary series highlights UAE’s rich, unknown past 
  • The series is narrated by Academy Award-winner Jeremy Irons
  • The series profiles the foundations of the country’s civilizations

LONDON: The UAE Embassy in London hosted the screening of the first episode of “History of the Emirates” last week — a series tracing the country’s history in the lead up to its National Day on Dec. 2.

The series — narrated by Academy Award-winner Jeremy Irons, and presented by Image Nation Abu Dhabi and produced by Atlantic Productions — traces the UAE’s history by stretching back “125,000 years and culminating in the union in 1971.”

Series producer Antony Geffen told Arab News: “Some people know about independence, the oil years and pearl diving, but few know about the economic successes and the extraordinary past that goes back thousands of years. This history isn’t known locally or around the world.”

He said: “I was constantly amazed at how Emiratis had adapted to their environment, overcoming the challenges of living in an arid landscape, from domesticating camels 3,000 years ago to engineering oases through the use of underground water channels and pioneering trading across the oceans.”

The series profiles the foundations of the country’s civilizations, with a three-part version airing internationally on National Geographic, and a five-part local version that focuses on society, innovation, trade, belief and unity. 

The first episode, “Society,” opens the UAE’s story 125,000 years ago, following the earliest human migrations out of Africa and the birth of civilizations, as well as the beginning of the majlis system of consultation-driven governance and the UAE’s enduring belief in equality.

Fully immersive viewing

The series takes advantage of the latest cutting-edge technology in order to fully immerse the viewer into the UAE’s history.

“To really bring ‘History of the Emirates’ alive, we used a huge array of different techniques,” Geffen said.

“We used dramatizations, a special scanning technique called LiDar to capture lost civilizations across the desert, and then bring them back in CGI, drone and aerial filming to capture the extraordinary landscape of different areas of the country,” he added.

“We really tried to capture the ancient artefacts in a creative way, such as pearls and camel figurines.”

Virtual reality (VR) is also incorporated, with viewers taken on a journey with a group of traditional pearl divers, as well as a camel-back trek across the UAE’s Empty Quarter.

“We wanted to make a series of immersive VR experiences connected to the UAE’s history that would immerse the audience in places they’d never go to,” Geffen said.

The series also launched a children’s mobile app that “used the assets that we’d made during the creation of the series to give children a great way to engage with the past,” he added.