Love it, or hate it, reality TV is coming to Dubai. I can see it now: Jane Jardashian and her diamond-dripping, gin-swilling, double-kissing friends. Their maids, cars, absent oil-exec husbands and tennis coaches – on the small screen, in Dubai’s real-life version of Desperate Housewives.
In fact, it’s surprising it’s taken this long for a Big Rich Texas-type series to be filmed here – anyone who’s spent five minutes in this city will know there’s endless Gucci-clad, high-pitched fodder, living the kind of lifestyle I can only read about in Hello! magazine. Set against a picture-perfect backdrop of sunny skies, skyscrapers and souks, any show about a mansion-lined Bougainvillea Lane is sure to be a hit, right?
Reality TV, though, hasn’t had the best of luck here. Several years ago, I spent a summer befriending a lovely mum, whose TV producer husband was ‘on location’ in the UAE filming Paris Hilton’s Dubai BFF.
“Have you, erm, met her?” I’d ask, hoping to get the low-down on Paris’ handbag shopping. “Has she found a BFF yet?” [checked diary to confirm that, jobless and new in Dubai, I was free nearly every day].
But, in the end, I never even saw the show, as after filming ended, it became embroiled in an $8m legal dispute. A year or so later, it was aired elsewhere in the world, but not by Dubai TV as intended.
More recently, Lord Sugar sent his final 12 Apprentice candidates on a shopping trip to Dubai, briefed to buy eight items (eg, a traditional kandura, an Arabic coffee pot, the UAE flag) at the lowest possible prices. The business hopefuls made some fairly big blunders, however, including mixing up cm and inches and coming away with a flag the size of a napkin.
Kim Kardashian herself has also dropped into Dubai, to, among other things, mix up a banana and strawberry milkshake (read Pleb Celeb: The amazing disappearing Kardashian, from Housewife in Dubai, it’s brilliant). But, again, the curse of reality TV seemed to strike. It was while filming Kim takes Dubai that the cracks in her short-lived marriage started gaping.
I doubt, though, that any of this will put off reality wannabes in Dubai, especially as the gig is paid and the show will ensure exposure in the US and international markets. The producers won’t say what the title is (only that they’re from a well-known American series), but give away plenty of clues in the video clip below as to the nature of the programme: They’re looking, they say, for 8-10 women living a glamorous lifestyle, with fast cars and stunning designer wardrobes, to be the stars.
When they hear I roll in a Ford Explorer and shop in Debenhams, I’m quite sure my phone will ring.