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Egypt is big on prod’n

Egypt is pushing ahead with a $ 200 million project to build a huge new TV and cinema production center near the Great Pyramids of Giza. The French firm Sofratev has been awarded a consultancy and design contract for the project, worth about $ 2 million and to be paid in part by a grant from the French government.

Soundstages, hotel planned

Plans call for 13 state-of-the-art soundstages and TV production studios over the next 10 years, along with outdoor sets, labs, a training center and a deluxe hotel for actors, production personnel and visitors. Center’s venue is a 500 -acre tract of land in Sixth of October City, a new desert development community about 12 miles southwest of Cairo. Project’s sponsor is Egypt’s ministry of information.

International tenders for contractors and suppliers for the first two of the studios are expected to be announced during the second half of this year, according to Ahmed Fouad Hafez, the Cairo rep of Sofratev.

A number of outdoor sets are either completed or under construction by the engineering department of the Egyptian Radio & TV Union. These include a pharaonic village and medieval Islamic city set for period productions, modern Egyptian street sets and a railway stations set complete with about a half-kilometer of track.

A preliminary design and feasibility study for the project was carried out about five years ago by Japan’s NHK and All Japan Radio and Television Services Ltd. with Yamashita Architects and Engineering.

Aging studios

The new project may put the kibosh on a proposed privatization plan for Egypt’s four existing film studios, built in the 1930s and ’40s and nationalized in the early 1960s. The studios are antiquated and would require major investment in new equipment by potential buyers. They are currently run by the Ministry of Culture.

Egypt is the only major producer of Arabic-lingo feature films, with an output of about 70 a year. The Egyptian Radio & TV Union produces about 700 TV hours annually.

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