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Egypt plans $ 200 mil prod’n center

Egypt plans a massive Hollywood-style film and TV production center on a 500 -acre tract of government-donated land about 10 miles from the great pyramids of Giza.

Venue for the $ 200 million project is Sixth of October City, a new desert development community southwest of Cairo.

Plans call eventually for 13 state-of-the-art soundstages and TV production studios along with permanent outdoor film sets for historical/period pieces, labs, a hotel for actors and production personnel, a training center and facilities for tourists and visitors. A 10-year time frame is envisaged for making the project fully operational.

The project is so far exclusively in the hands of the Egyptian Radio and TV Union, an affiliate of the Ministry of Information, but the substantial estimated cost is likely to require private investor capital.

The center is seen as a facility for both local and regional Middle East TV and film production, per Mahmous Khattab, head of the union’s planning department. Officials hope to have at least five studios in operation by 1997.

Preliminary designs were carried out by Japan’s Yamashita Architects and Engineering in collaboration with that country’s state-run broadcaster NHK and All-Japan Radio and TV Engineering Services.

“Our plans for expanded production make the center an absolute necessity,” Khattab said.

As the Arab world’s largest producer of soaps, historical/religious serials and children’s programs, the Radio and TV Union, which is Egypt’s pubcaster, has a ready-made niche in a fast-growing market. It also sells some TV productions to non-Arab Islamic countries and Arabic-language TV stations in Europe.

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