twofour54 announces half-year achievements and ranks 11th in the Middle East

Milestone of 200+ media partners affirms twofour54’s position as the leading regional media and creative hub

twofour54, the commercial arm of the Media Zone Authority-Abu Dhabi, today announced its results for the first half of 2013.  The six month period has seen twofour54 placed 11th in the Middle East in the Financial Times’ Foreign Direct Investment Magazine (fDi)’s bi-annual ‘Middle East Free Zones of the Future’ rankings and awards for 2013. The rankings identify the most promising special economic zones and locations for inward investment, economic development and business expansion in the region. twofour54 ranked 21st in the Global fDi ranking published in 2012. The judging criteria for fDi Magazine's rankings are designed to recognise which freezones have not only shown exceptional growth but also those which also offer the best services, facilities and incentives for tenants.

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Noura Al Kaabi, Chief Executive, twofour54–Abu Dhabi, said:  “Looking at our successes in the year to date, the fDi rankings stand out in particular. It brings me great pride to witness twofour54 attaining the position of top performing media and creative free zone in the Middle East. A vibrant and dynamic media cluster contributes to Abu Dhabi’s attractiveness as a global business hub; while offering career paths that fulfil the creative aspirations of Emiratis. It’s very satisfying to have welcomed more than 200 media companies to our Abu Dhabi campus in less than five years’ time, benefitting from Abu Dhabi’s strong economic growth and the sharp increase in foreign direct investment in the Emirate.”

Other highlights from across twofour54, in the first half of 2013, include:
-    Media training: twofour54 also into a two-year agreement with Tamkeen Bahrain, to develop Bahraini media talent and further develop the region’s media industry.

-    The first eight students from the twofour54 Gaming Academy in partnership with Ubisoft graduated in June; while the third intake of students from the twofour54 Cartoon Network Animation Academy will graduate in September 2013; and over 20 young Emiratis have completed the vocational training program for UAE nationals ‘intaji’ to date.

-    Talent development: twofour54 creative lab has grown to a critical mass of 5,200+ community members in the first half of this year , which encourage twofour54 to launch #the lab,  a space dedicated for creative lab community members.

-    twofour54 also continues to support local talent and media entrepreneurs through its development funds, including support to Ali F. Mostafa’s new feature film ‘A to B’ and to the pioneering social TV travel program Peeta Planet produced by Qabeela Media and broadcasted on Dubai One.
Under the patronage of H.H. Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Foreign Minister and Chairman of the National Media Council (NMC), twofour54 launched the Emirates Novel Awards in June, recognizing and supporting creative Emirati writers and increasing awareness of the importance of literature.

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-    Film and television services: in the first half of 2013, twofour54 strengthened its position as a regional hub for production, post-production and broadcasting, delivering world class film and television services to 55 new clients.  Occupancy rates for its studios stood at 92% with post-production occupancy at 63% and 1,384 production days booked. Since its launch, twofour54 has generated 15,864 hours of television broadcasting content. Productions filmed at the twofour54 studios during the first half year of 2013 include productions for Abu Dhabi TV and the drama series ‘Hammam Shami’, while ‘Wilada Min Al Khasira Part 3’, and ‘Sanaoud Baada Qaleel’ produced by Clacket Productions benefitted from twofour54 intaj’s Baselight colour grading suite. twofour54 also facilitated television services for the Gulf Cup of Nations which took place in Bahrain.

-    The Abu Dhabi Film Commission, which has a mandate to support the development of Abu Dhabi’s rapidly growing film and television industry, attracted production companies, to the UAE through its rebate scheme. Launched last year, the incentive comes in the form of a 30% rebate on all qualifying spend in the UAE. Production companies using the scheme include Screen Gems, a Sony Pictures Entertainment production company, and Jerry Bruckheimer Films, for the paranormal thriller Hollywood film ‘Beware the Night’;  Joy Films, for a Kleenex TVC; and Al Mohra, for Syrian drama, Hammam Shami.

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Partners joining twofour54 in the last six months include taghreedat, the largest Arabic crowd-sourcing service provider; Arabic news portal 24.ae; the Syrian media production companies Clacket and Al Mohra productions; cultural channel Al Dar TV; online recruiter Bayt.com; educational multimedia content specialist iCONIZE; the Islamic studies center Al Qurm Training, which focuses on promoting Islamic literature and the Islamic scholarly tradition; Bidaya, whose first project will include Iftah Ya Simsim, the Arabic version of Sesame Street; Universal Media; and Fortune PromoSeven.  Since its launch in 2008, twofour54 has created more than 2,100 new private sector jobs.

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