Abu Dhabi Ups Efforts to Become Media Industry Hub With $6 Billion Investment

Abu Dhabi is stepping up efforts to become a global media and entertainment industry hub as part of a drive to diversify its oil-based economy.

The oil-rich capital of the United Arab Emirates has consolidated its so-called culture and creative industries — basically museums and media industry infrastructure — into a single unit called DCT Abu Dhabi that plans to plunk down a whopping additional $6 billion over the next five years into industry sectors ranging from media, movies, gaming and music, as well as investments into building more museums and other cultural attractions.

The post-pandemic stimulus announcement follows Abu Dhabi’s previous $2.3 billion investment in projects that are already in advanced stages of completion on Abu Dhabi’s Saadiyat Island. Besides already hosting an outpost of the Louvre, the artificial isle also comprises the Yas Creative Hub, a state-of-the art complex for the media and entertainment industry on track to be fully completed by the fourth quarter of 2021.

The Yas Creative Hub, built on more than 60 acres with flexible workspaces and studios of all sizes, has already attracted hundred of companies including CNN, Ubisoft and Vice and expects to have thousands of tenants by year’s end, thanks in part to Abu Dhabi’s so-called Creative Visa program that helps cut red tape and offers fiscal benefits. The program also includes strategic initiatives favoring partnerships with local companies, such as film and production entity Image Nation Abu Dhabi, Abu Dhabi Gaming and the Abu Dhabi Film Commission.

“With the entire CCI under one umbrella, DCT Abu Dhabi is able to harness the natural synergies between the emirate’s culture, tourism and creative sectors, establishing Abu Dhabi as a centre for cutting-edge facilities, outstanding talent and enriching, sustainable opportunities,” said DCT Abu Dhabi chairman Mohamed Khalifa Al Mubarak (pictured) in a statement.

“DCT Abu Dhabi’s established culture sector will work hand in hand with sectors like multimedia and video gaming, facilitating collaboration and strong local and global partnerships in support of Abu Dhabi’s innovative and ambitious vision,” added DCT Abu Dhabi Undersecretary Saood Al Hosani.

The Yas Creative hub will have post-production and VFX facilities as well as studio sound stages, some of which will be inside the complex, though the major sound stages will be located elsewhere.

Abu Dhabi has been gaining traction as a location for international production thanks to its rebate of up to 30% on qualified spend, combined with no hassle paperwork and logistical assistance. Recent Hollywood shoots include “Mission: Impossible 7” and Denis Villeneuve’s “Dune.”  

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