UAE emerging as hub for film and TV production

Abu Dhabi is having a tremendous impact on the film production sector, attracting some of the world’s largest and most successful movie studios and franchises. This success is being fueled by the UAE’s world-class infrastructure and location, along with generous incentives for those who seek to produce films or other content in the country.

The UAE’s advancements in this sector were highlighted during a June 2014 event hosted by the Aspen Institute’s Emirates Aspen Partnership. The event convened industry leaders who discussed the UAE’s emerging role as a regional and global hub for film and TV production and media content creation.

The panel featured Abu Dhabi’s twofour54 CEO Noura Al Kaabi and Image Nation Chairman Mohamed Al Mubarak, who discussed the growing Abu Dhabi film industry and the UAE’s creative partnerships with US entities.

Twofour54 backed over 40 projects in 2013, including features, games, and short films; notably, twofour54 was recently picked by Disney to line-produce the UAE portion of the new film in the Star Wars franchise.

Abu Dhabi’s Image Nation, another powerhouse in the global film world, commissions and produces across several platforms. Through partnerships with major US production companies, Image Nation has helped create global blockbusters such as “The Help” and “Men In Black 3.” In line with the company’s commitment to developing social awareness films, Image Nation will be working with Participant Media on a new documentary about Malala Yousafzai and her fight for women’s education.

US Assistant Secretary of State for Economic and Business Affairs Charles Rivkin also spoke at the event and emphasized the UAE’s commitment to diversifying its economy and promoting new industries, such as the country’s booming film sector. Through dynamic partnerships with US media companies and collaboration on content creation, the UAE is also deepening its ties with US communities, providing more opportunities for cultural engagement and fostering increased understanding. As noted by Al Mubarak, “these partnerships [between the UAE and US] are not just seen as co-financing or production deals, they are becoming educational partnerships.”

The event, held at The London West Hollywood, was put together as part of the broader Emirates-Aspen Partnership. The Partnership is a high-level strategic relationship between the Embassy of the United Arab Emirates in Washington, DC and The Aspen Institute’s Middle East Programs. The two organizations work to develop an established dialogue that will cultivate seasoned relationships between civic, business, and government leaders in the US, UAE, and the broader Middle East.