Abu Dhabi's new media hub to create 16,000 jobs, eyes movie production

Work on facility 75% complete; it can support production of three motion pictures simultaneously

An artist impression of the completed Yas Creative Hub

An artist impression of the completed Yas Creative Hub

Yas Creative Hub / Handout via Zawya

Abu Dhabi’s Yas Creative Hub, the new media, gaming and entertainment sector hub will create thousands of jobs and a sustainable environment for movie productions, its CEO said.

The future home of media free zone twofour54, the hub is now 75 percent complete and it is due to open in the fourth quarter of 2021.

It will have a capacity to sustain three major motion pictures simultaneously, to help bring the emirate more in line with global media centres.

Michael Garin, CEO of twofour54, said the new facilities would support year-round production and be able to sustain three major motion pictures at the same time.


An artist impression of the completed Yas Creative Hub. Image courtesy Yas Creative Hub

Production capability

Twofour54, which is part of holding company ADQ, announced film and TV production subsidies with 30 percent rebate on spending in 2012.

Since then, location shoots have taken place for some blockbusters including ‘The Fast and the Furious 7’ and ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’, in the emirate.

“We have the ability, especially once the studios are built, to produce 12 months a year. A lot of the limitations have been because people came here for location, because we didn’t have the studio space. Now we expect by the end of 2021 to offer 12-month production capability,” Garin said.

Starting next year, existing twofour54 clients will be moved into the new hub, on Yas Island, Abu Dhabi, over a period of six months, and major media companies such as CNN, Ubisoft and Unity Technologies are already confirmed to have a presence at the site, journalists heard at a press conference.

At 2.9 million square feet, the hub on Yas Island, is three times the size of twofour54’s existing site in Khalifa Park, and will attract 16,000 jobs and ‘many’ media companies, said Garin.

It will support media professionals to live and work in the emirate full time, rather than come for a specific job and then leave once it is complete, he said. 

“When we offer subsidies, the money that we spend returns approximately three times to the economy. Every dirham that we spend generates three dirhams for the GDP,” he told the press conference.

“Once we build that 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, they’re buying houses, they’re spending money on food. So, the implications of this creative hub, and the ecosystem transcends the industrial impact, it impacts all of Abu Dhabi. It adds to the vitality of our social life, building a community that Abu Dhabi is well on its way to realising.”

The hub’s ability to attract major companies was also important, he said.

“It provides opportunities for young Emiratis and residents to work with industry professionals to gain the kind of experience that is a matter of course in better established centres like London, Hollywood, Bollywood or Shanghai.

“Now Abu Dhabi is starting to look like a mature part of the media system, not just an appendage.”  

(Reporting by Imogen Lillywhite; editing by Cleofe Maceda)


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