Saudi Arabia’s Neom Launches Over 40% Production Discount During Official Opening of Facilities and Studios | New

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Neom, a futuristic megacity under construction in the northwest of Saudi Arabia, has announced its planned incentive for productions in the region which consists of a cash rebate of at least 40%.

The refund will apply to feature films, TV dramas, reality series and documentaries as well as commercials, with producers able to get a higher percentage based on their “industry development contributions”.

These contributions include things like hiring a local production team and infrastructure investments, such as building sets that can stay on site for use on future projects. A minimum spend of $500,000 at Neom must be met to qualify for the rebate.

The discount cannot be directly combined with a 40% cash back that was announced by the Saudi Film Commission in May. However, productions receiving the KSA incentive may apply for a Neom increase, up to an additional 10% on Neom-based facilities, post-production, resident talent and labor.

Regional and international productions that have shot at Neom over the past 18 months have already benefited from a pilot version of the program and include desert warriora $150 million feature film directed by Rupert Wyatt and led by Captain America star Anthony Mackie, and The Rise of the Witchesa 10-part fantasy series from MBC Saudi studios which is the biggest TV series ever made in the region.

Wayne Borg, managing director of media, entertainment and culture industries at Neom, said Filter“We cover the full breadth of the market with an attractive global incentive rate that the industry should look to tap into given the opportunities that exist in the region.

“Unlike many other jurisdictions, we have the full package: incentives, infrastructure, crew and an international team that knows how to make things happen.”

Opening of Bajdah Desert Studios

The announcement accompanied the official opening of Neom Media Village and Bajdah Desert Studios, which together comprise the largest sound stages and film production facilities in the country. Three sound stages at the two sites are already operational and seven more are expected to open by early 2023.

Neom Media Village hosts a 2,400m² soundstage, with back-end facilities including make-up rooms, green rooms and production offices, with three other stages under construction which include a state-of-the-art volumetric production stage of technology.

At Bajdah Desert Studios, there are two 3,000m² sound stages, with four more expected to go live by the end of 2022. Borg said they are “particularly for productions that want a business based on location” in the region.

The studios will include set production offices, construction warehouses, prop stores, wardrobe, SFX facilities, and backlot space to support complex set builds. Films and ancillary equipment, including cameras; handle and lighting; gunshot; heavy drones, telehandlers, boom lifts, scissor lifts and rails are available at both locations.

The production facilities will also offer a total of 350 accommodation units for cast and crew, and Borg said Neom “has the crew depth to support three to four productions”. “We’ve had some great feature films and TV series at the same time, as well as a few international reality shows,” he added. “We have the capacity and are continuing to build.”

Ambition

In addition to US and UK productions, Borg said conversations are ongoing with producers in Germany and India, given the latter’s proximity to the region. By the end of 2026, the ambition is to have approximately 37 sound stages, television studios, game studios, industry learning facilities and production support facilities as well as incubation spaces and startup.

Some 25 productions have shot in Neom over the past 18 months, including desert warrior and The Rise of the Witches with other titles including reality survival series Million Dollar Island, which wrapped filming in July. High-end series in the pipeline include The Devil’s Promise by Tony Jordan, the creator of British drama series Life on Mars, about a man who makes a pact with the devil to protect his sick wife; and 1001 nightsa contemporary crime thriller developed with American producer and screenwriter Thania St. John and writer-director Steve Barron.

The new incentive underscores Saudi Arabia’s ambitions for its growing film and television production sector as the kingdom pursues its Vision 2030 plan, leading to the lifting of a 35-year film ban in 2017 and the opening of society. The target has been set to produce and shoot 100 films in Saudi Arabia by 2030, consisting of local and international productions.

Neom will be a new jurisdiction within the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and is expected to cover 26,500 km – approximately the size of Belgium – with its own laws and regulations. It is located along the Red Sea coast in Tabuk, in the northwest of the country.

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