As the second part of Sex and City is scheduled to premiere in the United States on May 27 and later in the rest of the world, the UAE decided to ban it while its filming in Morocco was faced by strong objections.
The sequel to the 2008 hit movie was supposed to be filmed in Abu Dhabi as it features the four New Yorkers going on vacation in the Middle East. However, the UAE denied the film crew permission to shoot in the emirate since the behavior of the women was seen as not in line with the Arab and Muslim cultural values.
In the movie, the four women try to behave in accordance with the traditions of the Middle East, yet things get out of hand when they cannot help but revert to their Western life style in different situations.
The movie would have been good propaganda for the UAE since it highlights the luxury enjoyed by tourists on their visit to the Emirates, moreover, the director argued that it was normal for the four women to behave in that way since they came from the West.
The title of the movie was amongst the reasons why it was not filmed in the UAE and it was impossible to change it as remove the word ‘sex,’ since it is a sequel to a previous movie as well as a popular TV series that has been running for 15 years.
The rejection came from the government as Dubai Studio City referred the script to the National Media Council (NMC) for revision. The reply came six months later citing that the behavior of the characters was outrageous even for a country as multicultural as the UAE.
In addition to containing intimate scenes and dialogues viewed as improper, there are parts where the culture of the UAE is made fun of especially the dress code. In one of the scenes, the four women are rescued by Muslim women who take off their burkas to reveal stylish western-style clothes while in another they make fun the of locals’ loose dresses and veils.
One of the women is also shown insisting on kissing in public amidst the astonishment of all the people around. There are also references to homosexuality.
Morocco was the second option and the movie was filmed in Marrakech despite objections that it violates Arab and Muslim traditions. However, the relevant authorities in Morocco granted their approval on condition that the name of the city is not mentioned.
The director agreed and kept the script as it is. Thus Marrakech was made to look like the Gulf emirate of Abu Dhabi with its modern architecture and luxurious spots as well as its desert.
This was another reason for banning the movie from UAE since NMC did not approve using the name of Abu Dhabi as the place where the events take place, yet this was still done although the movie was filmed in Morocco. "This was illegal," NMC argued.
The approval granted by the Moroccan authorities was met by objection on the part of the people and the media since both the name and the content of the movie were seen as inappropriate in a conservative society.
Marrakech residents were offended when a bathroom was turned into a mosque for one of the shots and when crewmen stood over the roof of a mosque with their cameras, the Moroccan newspaper Hespress reported.
One of the movie producers told local press that they decided not to film in the UAE because they asked for a lot of money, yet sources from the Gulf refuted those allegations and said the rejection was due to the movie’s tampering with the country’s cultural codes, according to Akhbar al-Maghreb al-Arabi newspaper.
News of the filming extremely provoked Moroccans to the extent that a committee was formed to visit the location after news of indecent scenes was spread all over the city, the newspapers reported.
Although Sex and the City II is seen as outrageous, all its main characters are over 40. Sarah Jessica Parker, the most famous of the four women, is 45-years-old and was the first on Maxim’s list of the Most Unsexy Women Alive.
Kim Cattrall announced she is not doing nude scenes since she will be 54 in three months and stressed she has never appeared totally nude on screen, but always had a towel or the like wrapped around her body.
Kristin Davis is 45 and Cynthia Nixon is one year younger.