Producers get public and private backing
The the area broadly defined as the Middle East boasts some spectacular locations and, in some countries, experienced local crews. However, the incentives and subsidies vary wildly.
Morocco has the most well-developed film infrastructure, with two film studios and a government body, the CCM, that oversees development of the film biz. Foreign productions are exempt from Morocco’s 20% VAT charge. A new treaty with Blighty should also enable U.K. and Moroccan filmmakers to work together to co-produce pics eligible for national status in both countries.
In Jordan, no specific incentives are in place, but the country’s Royal Film Commission works closely with visiting productions to ensure their lensing needs are met. Film shoots are exempt from paying any employment tax to local or foreign workers on set, while the commission is working closely with the Jordanian government to introduce further financial subsidies in the coming months as it seeks to establish itself as a safe, diverse and cheap alternative to the likes of Morocco, Spain and Eastern Europe.
Egypt, long the powerhouse of the Arab film industry, is setting up a trade body to look after Egyptian production companies internationally. Funded to the tune of millions of dollars by the Egyptian government, the new org will initially seek to promote Egyptian films overseas before turning its attention to attracting international productions to lense in the country. The government is also working with local film execs to draw up a series of financial incentives to make Egypt a more attractive filming option for international productions.
In the emirates of Dubai and Abu Dhabi, big promises haven’t led to much so far. Aside from Abu Dhabi’s $1 billion production shingle Imagenation, neither of the bustling desert metropolises has a dedicated film commission nor specific rebates.
Dubai-based production company Filmworks, led by Tim Smythe, continues to work with international producers, while the delayed Dubai Studio City may open one of its soundstages this year. Abu Dhabi’s media production hub Twofour54 launched last October and offers soundstages today.
The U.K. and Israel have begun discussions on a film co-production treaty to help film execs in both countries, similar to Israel’s agreements with other nations.