Abu Dhabi’s new creative hub aims to attract 16,000 film, TV, gaming professionals

Abu Dhabi’s new creative hub aims to attract 16,000 film, TV, gaming professionals
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Yas Creative Hub, which will open in Abu Dhabi in the fourth quarter of 2021
Abu Dhabi’s new creative hub aims to attract 16,000 film, TV, gaming professionals
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Yas Creative Hub, which will open in Abu Dhabi in the fourth quarter of 2021
Abu Dhabi’s new creative hub aims to attract 16,000 film, TV, gaming professionals
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Yas Creative Hub, which will open in Abu Dhabi in the fourth quarter of 2021
Abu Dhabi’s new creative hub aims to attract 16,000 film, TV, gaming professionals
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Yas Creative Hub, which will open in Abu Dhabi in the fourth quarter of 2021
Abu Dhabi’s new creative hub aims to attract 16,000 film, TV, gaming professionals
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Yas Creative Hub, which will open in Abu Dhabi in the fourth quarter of 2021
Abu Dhabi’s new creative hub aims to attract 16,000 film, TV, gaming professionals
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Yas Creative Hub, which will open in Abu Dhabi in the fourth quarter of 2021
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Updated 25 November 2020

Abu Dhabi’s new creative hub aims to attract 16,000 film, TV, gaming professionals

Abu Dhabi’s new creative hub aims to attract 16,000 film, TV, gaming professionals
  • The Yas Creative Hub will open phase one in Q1 2021 and has already sold 80% of its space
  • While Hollywood, Bollywood shut down, Abu Dhabi was one of the few global entertainment centers to remain open during COVID-19, with $100 million worth of production

DUBAI: Abu Dhabi’s new 270,000 square meter creative hub, which is set to open in 12 months’ time, is aiming to attract over 16,000 professionals from the entertainment, film, TV and gaming sectors, and position the emirate to compete with international locations such as Hollywood, Bollywood and the UK.

“Abu Dhabi is beginning to look like a mature part of the media ecosystem, not just an appendage,” Michael Garin, CEO of Twofour54 Abu Dhabi, told reporters in a virtual press conference on Monday.

“Up until now, our experience has been for people to come, work on a project, and leave. While that was a helpful step in the development of our ecosystem, it's not really what we need. What we need is for people to come here, work here, live here, send their kids to school here, and that's really the impact that the phase we've now entered will have,” he added.

The size of 40 football pitches when complete, the first phase of the Yas Creative Hub is nearly 75 percent built and will be nestled among Yas Island’s other entertainment attractions, such as Yas Marina Circuit, Ferrari World, Yas Waterworld and Warner Bros. World Abu Dhabi.




Michael Garin, CEO of Twofour54 Abu Dhabi

When it opens in the fourth quarter of 2021, around 600 companies and 5000 professionals will relocate to the facility, including industry names such as CNN, Ubisoft and Unity Technologies.

Facilities will include five towers, the Arab Film Studio, a 26,000 square meter external amphitheater, a public park and 26,000 square meters of rooftop space. The campus will double the amount of studio space available in the emirate.

One of the ways the Abu Dhabi Film Commission attracts blockbuster productions to the emirate is by offering a 30 percent cashback rebate on production spend. Garin believes the new campus will help generate a higher return on investment. He pointed out that for every dirham the Abu Dhabi government spends on the rebate, three dirhams is generated in income for the emirate in spin-off revenue for hotels and associated businesses in the surrounding area.

“But once we build the sustainable ecosystem and people live here, because they can work here, that multiplier expands from three to four. Why? Because they're sending their kids to school here, they're renting apartments or buying houses or buying cars, they're spending money on food. So, the implications of this creative hub and the ecosystem that we're building transcends just the industrial impact,” he said.

Around 80 percent of available space in the campus has already been sold, and Garin, who has worked in the entertainment industry for over 40 years, said the campus has already shown proof of concept.

“We will shortly be able to announce major Hollywood productions that are already scheduled to be here… We know it's sustainable because we already know what our pipeline is for 2021. Our problem now is not to bring in the productions, our problem, and our challenge… which we're addressing aggressively, is to have enough facilities for the productions that want to be here,” he said.

During the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, studios in the US, UK and India shut down production, while Abu Dhabi was one of the few entertainment destinations to continue operating and around $100 million worth of production actually took place at Twofour54’s facilities during the pandemic.

Katrina Anderson, director of commercial services, said Twofour54 also supported companies struggling during COVID-19. “We've done COVID support packages. We haven't just put payments on hold, because then if you put it on hold, people still have to pay that back,” she said.

“So we actually provided rental relief to partners, SMEs, entrepreneurs, any of the areas that we’re really trying to grow, provided they have been with us and they are partners on campus and they meet certain criteria. But we’ve helped so many partners, I think it’s over one hundred we've provided rent relief to and support to,” she added.




Katrina Anderson, director of commercial services

Abu Dhabi has hosted high-profile productions such as Star Wars: Episode VII - The Force Awakens, Fast and Furious 7, Brad Pitt's War Machine and the US soap opera The Bold and the Beautiful, but with the opening of the Yas Creative Hub the emirate will be hoping to attract even more blockbuster names and become one of the top entertainment capitals of the world.


Amazon Prime show agrees to changes after India Hindu outcry

Amazon Prime show agrees to changes after India Hindu outcry
Updated 21 January 2021

Amazon Prime show agrees to changes after India Hindu outcry

Amazon Prime show agrees to changes after India Hindu outcry
  • The Amazon Prime drama “Tandav” drew criticism from members of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu-nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party
  • Several BJP politicians called for the show to be banned

MUMBAI: The cast and crew of a popular streaming series starring Bollywood megastar Saif Ali Khan have agreed to “implement changes” to the show after ruling party politicians accused it of insulting Hindu gods.
The Amazon Prime drama “Tandav” — loosely compared to the US series “House of Cards” — drew criticism from members of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu-nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party after its Friday release.
Several BJP politicians called for the show to be banned, saying it was “deliberately mocking Hindu gods” and disrespecting religious sentiments.
One of the criticized scenes depicts a university play in which Hindu deity Shiva talks about “azaadi” (freedom), a rallying cry from 2019’s anti-government protests across the country.
“The cast and crew of Tandav have made the decision to implement changes to the web series to address the concerns raised,” director Ali Abbas Zafar wrote in a post on Twitter late Tuesday.
The cast and crew also apologized on Monday, with Zafar saying that the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting had told the team it had received “a large number of grievances and petitions... with serious concerns and apprehensions” over the series.
“’Tandav’ is a work of fiction and any resemblance to acts and persons and events is purely coincidental,” he said Monday.
The petitioners include Ram Kadam, a BJP lawmaker in Mumbai, who said he was “fighting for Hindu pride and trying to ensure that nobody dare to mock our Hindu Gods.”
Leading streaming platforms, including Netflix, Amazon and Disney’s Hotstar, have expanded their presence in the country of 1.3 billion, including by commissioning local content.
The streaming TV services are not subject to the country’s notoriously fussy censor boards, which regularly cut scenes.
But there have been growing calls, particularly from BJP politicians, for the shows to be subject to the same scrutiny.
The most recent controversy involved the BBC’s TV version of Vikram Seth’s epic bestselling novel, “A Suitable Boy,” which is streaming on Netflix, over a scene where a Hindu girl kisses a Muslim boy in front of a temple.
A BJP politician in November filed a police complaint saying the show had hurt Hindus’ religious sentiments.