Director-General of Abu Dhabi Media Office discusses the city’s booming media industry with business leaders in New York and Los Angeles

05 May 2018

Maryam AlMheiri

Her Excellency Maryam Eid AlMheiri, Director General of Abu Dhabi Government Media Office and Chief Executive Officer of Media Zone Authority – Abu Dhabi and twofour54, showcased recent developments in Abu Dhabi’s media industry during a two-week roadshow in New York City and Los Angeles between April 9th and 20th.

During the visit, the U.S.-U.A.E. Business Council hosted HE AlMheiri for a roundtable luncheon in each city to discuss opportunities the Emirate offers to American media companies. HE Majid Al-Suwaidi, Consul General, U.A.E. Consulate in NY, and HE Abdulla Alsaboosi, Consul General, U.A.E. Consulate in LA, welcomed HE AlMheiri at these luncheons, which included senior executives representing prominent consulting, PR, education, cultural, tech, finance, and legal firms.

During the NYC luncheon, HE Al-Suwaidi discussed how developing the media sector in Abu Dhabi is helping to diversify the Emirate’s economy.

“The U.A.E. is fast emerging as a global hub for media and entertainment. With media free zones, creative talent centers, and joint initiatives with U.S. partners, the U.A.E. has all of the right components in place for these industries to flourish,” Consul General Al-Suwaidi said. “Her Excellency Al Mheiri is here in New York to bring partners together on everything from content creation, youth capacity building, and digital technologies. Her visit underscores the importance our government has placed on growing the media sector.”

HE AlMheiri discussed the role of Media Zone Authority – Abu Dhabi as the champion of a thriving and sustainable media industry.

As part of its mission, the Authority has overseen the development of media free zone twofour54 Abu Dhabi, helping the zone realize its vision of being the ‘Capital for content creators’. She spoke about the wide range of services twofour54 can provide U.S. companies to help them produce innovative content, such as world-class production facilities, a dedicated government and travel services department to help with logistics, and world-class film and TV services.

In recent years, numerous major Hollywood studios have been attracted to Abu Dhabi to shoot blockbusters, such as ‘Star Wars; The Force Awakens’ (Disney), ‘Furious 7’ (Universal Pictures), and ‘Mission: Impossible – Fallout’ (Paramount Pictures). The studios are being drawn by the high standard of production and post-production facilities, such as Abu Dhabi’s studios and backlot, as well as the Emirate’s diverse locations, outstanding infrastructure, pool of talented freelancers, and financial incentives.

Abu Dhabi Film Commission (ADFC) has played an important role in bringing international productions to the Emirate, not just from Hollywood but also Bollywood, Tollywood, and the Arab world. As well as helping firms find the perfect locations – from castles to skyscrapers and desert dunes to pristine beaches, it also provides a cash rebate of 30% on all production spend in the Emirate.

The media landscape in Abu Dhabi has already attracted more than 470 media companies to join the twofour54 media zone, including global names such as Apple, CNN, and Ubisoft, and Her Excellency said the Emirate is committed to nurturing media in all its forms – film, print, radio, television, music, communications, marketing, advertising, literature, computer games, and digital applications. twofour54 itself has been named the Middle East and North Africa’s ‘Studio of the Year’ two years in a row at the Digital Studio Awards, picking up the accolade both this year and in 2017.

The round table also heard about future plans for the media industry, including developing local talent to be the media professionals of the future through initiatives such as internships in every aspect of the industry to gain skills and experience from the best in the business. The Emirate is also improving the ease of doing business and providing sources of funding to help young people get their ideas for media businesses off the ground.

Another key topic of conversation was plans for a new, larger, state-of-the-art home for twofour54 on Yas Island in Abu Dhabi and the opening of the 300,000sqm backlot and studio development called twofour54’s Studio City at Mina Zayed.

Throughout, HE Al Mheiri stressed the importance of partnerships with leading local, regional, and global companies. She said, “I came here to meet you and hear from you about innovative new ideas and ways that we can partner. We look to leading global institutions such as you to realize our ambitious plans for the transformation of Abu Dhabi’s media sector.”

In LA, HE Alsaboosi stressed the enormous potential Abu Dhabi presents to California-based businesses. “We are honored to co-host HE Maryam AlMheiri. Abu Dhabi is a wonderful capital city that is developing at a tremendous rate. The entertainment sector is a testament to this. With Los Angeles being the ‘Entertainment Capital of the Word,’ it’s only natural that there will be synergy between the two. I hope that this visit will grow the already strong ties with the United States.”

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