Abu Dhabi, 3Line drive tyke ‘Train’

Duo to co-produce kids' show

LONDON — Abu Dhabi’s government-backed twofour54 media zone has inked with the U.K.’s 3Line Media to co-produce kids’ skein “Diver Dan’s Story Train.”

The project will be the first partnership struck by twofour54’s funding arm ibtikar since the media zone was launched in October with the aim of becoming a multi-billion dollar hub for content creation in the Middle East.

Unveiled at the Mip TV mart on Tuesday, the skein will be produced in English and Arabic language versions. The BBC’s kids’ channel CBeebies has acquired the U.K. rights to the show, which will bow next spring.

The first season will be made up of 52 episodes of 11 minutes each. The show blends live action and animation and was created by British children’s author Rebecca Elgar.

Twofour54 ibtikar will develop and produce original stories from Arab authors for its local language version rather than simply dubbing the episodes into Arabic.

Arab student animators at twofour54’s tadreeb vocational training academy will get work placements on the show’s production team and internships with 3Line’s U.K. studios.

“This is a real opportunity to create content for pre-school Middle Eastern viewers,” said twofour54 chief exec Tony Orsten. “All the big broadcasters in the region are hungry for local, indigenous Arabic content. With this deal, we’re taking our first steps towards establishing a sustainable media and content industry in the Middle East and North Africa.”

Twofour54’s ibtikar arm provides two sources of coin.

Its ventures scheme offers between $500,000 and $5 million to media entrepreneurs and businesses in need of start-up or early capital.

Its creative lab grants, which will bow this year, will offer grants and incubate creative ideas. That coin will primarily target Emiratis and range from $1,000 to $50,000.

Ibtikar has also launched a separate kids unit to develop and produce content for Middle Eastern tykes.

The government of Abu Dhabi, one of the United Arab Emirates, hopes twofour54 will lay the building blocks for a sustainable film, TV and new media industry in the region.

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