Abu Dhabi holds Hollywood talks in bid to become top movie hub

twofour54 and Image Nation meet film execs in LA as emirate aims to become biggest MidEast movie production hub

Top Abu Dhabi officials has held talks with senior Hollywood executives in Los Angeles as part of the emirate's bid to beat neighbour Dubai to the title of the Middle East's top movie and TV production hub.

twofour54, the commercial arm of the Media Zone Authority – Abu Dhabi, and Image Nation Abu Dhabi, the GCC’s biggest content creator, highlighted the UAE’s importance as a film and television hub during a meeting with US movie makers at an event to mark Etihad Airways' launch of its LA service.

While Dubai's Burj Khalifa starred in the fourth edition of the Mission Impossible franchise, Abu Dhabi recently upped the ante with news that part of the latest Stars Wars movie was being filmed in the emirate.

In the past 12 months Abu Dhabi has attracted major international films including Fast & Furious 7, Deliver Us From Evil, the Bollywood feature Bang Bang, and television shows The Bold & The Beautiful and BBC’s Top Gear.

Last month, the Dubai Film and TV Commission released its first Film Dubai Production Guide, a comprehensive resource listing information about locations, talent and advice on filming and producing in Dubai.

Dubai has seen over 7,000 productions filmed in the emirate across a variety of genres and from all corners of the globe, the Commission said.

But Abu Dhabi is also offering attractive incentive initiatives to Hollywood producers in a bid to bring more productions to the UAE capital.

“Abu Dhabi has made a tremendous impact in the production sector attracting some of the world’s largest and most successful movie franchises,” said Noura Al Kaabi, the CEO of twofour54.

“The success we are experiencing is due to the infrastructure and support we have established at twofour54, the development of local talent, the overwhelming support of Government entities, and Abu Dhabi Film Commission’s 30 per cent rebate on production spend in the Emirate.”

In addition to twofour54’s CEO, the panel included Mohamed Al Mubarak, chairman of Image Nation, Ambassador Charles Rivkin, the US Assistant Secretary of State for Economic and Business Affairs, and Ali Mostafa, the pioneering Emirati filmmaker and director.

Al Mubarak added: “At Image Nation, we have worked with a range of award-winning production companies including Parkes/Macdonald, Hyde Park Entertainment, and Participant Media, which has allowed us to work with some of the best of Hollywood and whose experience and knowledge has enabled us to grow the industry in the UAE.

“Image Nation and twofour54 are focused on developing our regional talents with international expertise, to enable local filmmakers to learn from world-class talent and together build the UAE’s film sector.”

Both twofour54 and Image Nation have helped to develop local talent by providing young UAE nationals with opportunities to intern and work with the experienced crews that film in the Emirate. Two interns recently had the opportunity to travel to London to work on Star Wars Episode VII at London's Pinewood Studios.

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