Sony in billion-$ Cairo project

CAIRO — A new Hollywood-on-the-Nile is rising on a 500-acre tract of reclaimed desert 10 miles south-west of Cairo, with the promise it is to be a combination Hollywood-style studio complex and theme park.

The Egyptian Radio & Television Union (ERTU) — the Arab world’s largest producer of TV soaps and serials — has signed a $314 million contract with a consortium led by Sony Broadcast, Professional/Europe and Britain’s Trafalgar House for construction and equipping the first six of a planned 13 soundstages for the complex, which officially is known as the Media Production City.

The giant complex is seen as a replacement for Egypt’s four antiquated film studios which were built in the 1930s and ’40s and nationalized under the Socialist policies of late President Gamal Abdel Nasser in the early 1960s. The new studios also will augment four existing, but overworked, sound stages in the Cairo Radio & Television Build-ing.

Total projected cost of the project has been estimated at around $1 billion, with ERTU (a government-owned outfit affiliated to the Ministry of Information) paying about 45% and the remainder to be subscribed from private inves-tors.

Besides soundstages and numerous permanent outdoor sets, the complex will include processing labs, a deluxe ho-tel, administration buildings and a training center. With two outdoor theaters and a theme park on the side, the project also is considered a money-spinning tourist attraction.

Under the terms of the newly signed deal, Sony will provide state-of-the-art studio equipment, with Trafalgar House responsible for construction of the first six soundstages. French firm Sofratev earlier was awarded the con-tract for consultancy and the detailed design of the project.

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