Neom, the Saudi Arabian region that is aiming to become a major film and TV production hub, has announced the opening of its Neom Media Village and Bajdah Desert Studios, comprising several sound stages and production support facilities.
Situated along the kingdom’s Red Sea coast in Tabuk, in the northwest of the kingdom, Neom is a sprawling area roughly the size of Belgium. Besides coral reefs and heritage sites, it also comprises mountains and generally has a cooler temperature than most of the region.
Aside from a futuristic megacity-in-the-making, the area now hosts what are being touted as the country’s largest sound stages.
The new Neom Media Village currently features one 2,400-square-meter (more than 25,000 square feet) sound stage, complete with facilities such as make-up rooms, green rooms and production offices, plus three more stages under construction.
At Bajdah Desert Studios, a separate facility, there are two 3,000-square-meter sound stages, with four more scheduled to be operational by the end of 2022.
The first three sound stages across the two locations are already operational. A further seven, including a high-tech volumetric production stage, are set to open by Q1 2023.
The announcement comes after Saudi Arabia formally announced its 40%+ cash rebate production incentive scheme in May.
“Clearly production incentives play a vital role in terms of attracting productions but are best leveraged when the entire package is in place: infrastructure, on-the-ground international production expertise, crew depth and ease of doing business,” said Wayne Borg, who heads the nascent Neom media hub in the statement.
“This is an important milestone in realizing our aim of becoming the epicenter of the regional media industry,” he added. “Our team, facilities and diverse filming locations mean we can provide a seamless, world-class production experience and use our capacity and capabilities to become the focal point of collaboration among talent, creators and key contributors within the global media industry,” Borg went on to note.
Neom has already hosted some 25 productions during the past 18 months, including Hollywood-style tentpole “Desert Warrior,” featuring an all-star international cast led by “Captain America” star Anthony Mackie and directed by Rupert Wyatt (“Planet of the Apes”).
Ever since it lifted its 35-year-old religion-related ban on cinema in 2017, Saudi has been experiencing a boom in all aspects of film industry activity, becoming the Middle East’s top-grossing territory in terms of theatrical box office returns. Attracting international film and TV productions is clearly a key part of this government-driven effort.
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