twofour54 unveiled as Abu Dhabi launches media content creation zone

12 Oct 2008

Media and content industry spotlight shines on the Middle East for new market opportunity.

Abu Dhabi today unveiled a new media content creation zone called ‘twofour54’. Representing the geographical co-ordinates of Abu Dhabi, twofour54 will establish the city as a centre of excellence for Arabic content creation that is internationally renowned.

The launch of the initiative, which was attended by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, creates a new industry opportunity for the region by providing a collaborative and fully-equipped centre that brings together local, regional and international companies from across the breadth of the film, broadcast, digital, publishing and music industries.

With some of the world’s leading content companies already onboard and announcing major plans, twofour54’s advanced ecosystem offers production facilities, infrastructure, training and a new business incubator – all on one site – for the development of world class Arabic content by people from the Middle East region for its 300 million Arab audience.

Speaking at the launch, Tony Orsten, Chief Executive Officer of twofour54, said, “The Abu Dhabi 2030 vision seeks to establish the Emirate as a regional centre for culture with a ‘global capital city’ as its hub.

“An extremely important part of achieving this vision lies in creating a thriving international media industry which, to be successful, needs to be local at the same time,” he continued. “With twofour54 we are launching a major initiative that will encourage, stimulate and support Arabic content creation by Arabs in the Arab world, embracing films, television and music through to animation, digital media and art. Providing a collaborative campus where all types of media company can work together will see Abu Dhabi become a centre and catalyst for content creation and culture throughout Middle East region and beyond.”

twofour54 has already attracted several of the largest and most influential content creation companies worldwide, including CNN, BBC, Thomson Foundation, Random House, Harper Collins, Rotana Studios, Financial Times, Abu Dhabi Media Company, C Sky Pictures and the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

According to a global study by PWC (Global Entertainment and Media Outlook report, 2008-2012), the Middle East Media market is forecast to expand at double-digit annual rates over the next five years, by far outstripping the average of 6.6 percent growth across the rest of the world.

These partners have recognised the vast opportunity that this represents for growth in the Arab world and have committed significant investment and resources to business initiatives that will be led out of twofour54’s preliminary campus in Khalifa Park, due to open in 2009.

“Today we are not just launching a business, we are creating an industry and an ecosystem for true Arabic content creation by the people and for the people in the Arab region,” said Wayne Borg, Chief Operating Officer, twofour54. “The market opportunity is substantial by any measure, but the industry needs more than just a location – it needs a cohesive environment that supports education, investment, collaboration and creative partnerships. twofour54 places media right at the heart of the Arab world and offers the tools and infrastructure for driving international-standard quality and success.”

twofour54 is built around four pillars – twofour54 tadreeb, twofour54 ibtikar, twofour54 intaj and twofour54 tawasol – located within a campus style environment that promotes cooperation and creative partnerships amongst the companies involved.

twofour54 tadreeb will be the region’s premier vocational training academy, targeting young Arabs and graduates considering a career in the media industry as well as providing existing media and entertainment professionals with opportunities to develop skills, up-skill and re-skill across a comprehensive range of media and content industry disciplines.

twofour54 ibtikar will provide innovation support and funding for new, local businesses and promising creative ideas across print, online, mobile and television platforms in the Middle East and North Africa. This fund will not only provide financial support but also practical advice and input from industry experts and specialists to guide initiatives to successful fruition.


twofour54 intaj is focused on supplying state-of-the-art production and post-production facilities, media asset management, broadcast and technical support services for use within twofour54. It equips companies with all of the latest communications technology required, including playout, uplink and downlink services.

Finally, twofour54 tawasol provides a one-stop-shop facility to support the relocation and establishment of content organisations, making it simple for local, regional and international companies to move into twofour54.

The partners that have already committed to twofour54 include:

  • CNN will be broadcasting a live daily prime time news cast out of a new broadcast and production facility at twofour54, set to open in early 2009 as its fourth global hub
  • BBC will be providing international standard situational training programmes in Arabic exclusively at twofour54. This is the first time the BBC has entered into this type of partnership
  • Thomson Reuters Foundation will be hosting vocational training workshops in subjects such as writing international news, sports or photo journalism, television news coverage and writing business news
  • Thomson Foundation will provide exclusive, tailor-made training courses and study visits covering every aspect of radio, television and online journalism, from reporting and production to media regulation
  • Abu Dhabi Media Company (ADMC) will relocate to twofour54 in phase two to capitalise on the proximity to global media companies, the international standards of training and access to a large pool of skilled media professionals
  • imagenation which was established by ADMC in Abu Dhabi to create full length feature films and digital content for the Arab world, will be a founding partner of twofour54. One imagenation initiative will be the establishment of National Geographic films producing Arabic programming about the region
  • Random House will be creating an Arabic publishing house, creating fresh material and adapting some of its existing content for the region while investing in developing a stable of successful Arab authors
  • Rotana Studios plans to develop, produce and co-produce with Abu Dhabi Media Zone, projects initiated out of the Gulf area
  • Financial Times launched a Middle East regional edition based in the United Arab Emirates in April this year. The operation of this regional edition will be located in twofour54
  • Thomson Reuters are setting up a photo agency and establishing a Sharia compliant financial information portal which will provide financial information that is in accordance with the principals of Islamic law
  • Harper Collins will be introducing their bestselling Reading Scheme, Big Cat: a guided reading scheme for children, localised for the Arab market and creating a totally new range of Arabic dictionaries into English, French and Hindi – effectively Arabic for the 21st Century
  • C Sky Pictures a leading film production company from Kuwait, best known for the award-winning documentaries around the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait and September 11th, will be establishing its new operations in twofour54
  • Comedy Arabia will set up in twofour54, led by Ahmed Ahmed of comedy group Axis of Evil. This new initiative aims to encourage budding Arabic comedians and discover the hidden talents of the Arab world through an interactive portal,
  • Flash is the music promoter and event production agency behind the raft of global acts that have headlined in Abu Dhabi, including Justin Timberlake, Bon Jovi and Elton John. Flash will be establishing its head office in twofour54

“twofour54 is not an office development or a themed industrial park,” concluded Orsten. “It is both a habitat and a centre of excellence where content creation for the media and entertainment industries can grow and flourish.

“twofour54 even provides a team of experts that understand the region and the metrics that drive success here, as well as global standards in regulation and licensing. Our aim, in time, is to have a truly Arab creative economy in the Middle East that has grown out of Abu Dhabi.”

Back to news press listing