This City Is Considered One Of The Most Filmed In The Middle East

Movies can inspire us to book a ticket and travel the world. So-called set-jetting is a huge phenomenon in vacation travel. Who didn't want to visit Sicily after watching "White Lotus" or gallivant around Paris after seeing "Emily in Paris"? Many of the most-filmed locations in the world are huge tourist attractions: The Taj Mahal in India, London's Trafalgar Square, and New York City's Central Park are all up there.

However, the most-filmed location in the Middle East is not a tourist destination. When you watch a movie made there, you probably won't want to jump on a plane and experience the place yourself because the most-filmed city in the Middle East is also one of the most dangerous countries in the world for foreigners — Kabul in Afghanistan.

As of 2023, the U.S. Department of State has issued a "Do Not Travel" advisory for the entire country. This makes watching movies, shows, and documentaries filmed there even more fascinating. They are the only way to experience the country safely while offering rare insights into a place most of us cannot go.

Documentaries filmed in Kabul

Kabul is not just the most-filmed city in the Middle East; it's the fourth most-filmed destination in the world. Many of the films made here are documentaries that give glimpses of life in Afghanistan. To learn more about the youth in Afghanistan, watch one (or both) of the movies made about the charity Skateistan, a non-profit empowering the country's children through skateboarding and education. There's one from 2011 called "Skateistan: Four Wheels and a Board in Kabul" and another from 2019 called "Learning to Skateboard in a Warzone (If You're a Girl)." The latter won an Oscar for Best Documentary, Short Subject.

If you want to get a fuller picture of the situation in Afghanistan, the documentary "My Childhood, My Country" is a difficult but powerful watch. It follows a boy, Mir, into adulthood; in the later parts of the film, he lives in Kabul with his family. Other recent documentaries include HBO's "Escape from Kabul," which tells the story of the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan in August 2021. "Bread and Roses" is a 2023 documentary exploring women's lives in Kabul since the Taliban returned to power.

Kabul in fiction

For those of you who would rather experience Kabul through fiction, there are many movies filmed in Kabul made by local and international directors. One is the movie "Kabul Express," a Hindi-language film shot in 2006 about two Indian journalists who travel through a scarred Afghan landscape. It was the first international movie made in the country after the Taliban fell in the early 2000s, but the crew received death threats from the Taliban during filming. Despite this, "Kabul Express" was popular among Afghan cinemagoers.

"Osama" is a 2003 movie, not about Osama Bin Laden, but about a girl who has to disguise herself as a boy in Taliban-ruled Afghanistan to help her family survive. Reviewers on IMDB call the short film "spectacular" and "powerful." Last (but certainly not least), "At Five in the Afternoon" is a 2003 film that focuses on post-Taliban Afghanistan to tell the tale of a young woman who begins attending school.