DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — YouTube has announced a partnership with Dubai Studio City to build a 10,000-square-feet studio called YouTube Space Dubai which will be the first facility of this type in the Middle East.
Construction is scheduled to begin early next year on the Space, with plans to open in the second quarter of 2017.
Lance Podell, Director and Global Head of YouTube Spaces, called it a mix of “studio, community centre and university” during a presentation in Dubai’s Al Quoz industrial area.
He noted that the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region has one of the world’s most vibrant YouTube communities which ranks second in the world after the U.S in terms of watch time.
Podell said the collaboration with Dubai Studio City will help foster and support the local community of YouTube creators and continue to boost the growth of Arabic content on the Internet.
According to the Arab Media Outlook report, 50% of the region’s population is under 24. This youth demographic spends almost two hours a day watching videos and engaging with social networks. Digital video is one of the top 3 media industry drivers in MENA with a 30% compound annual growth rate expected during 2016-2018.
Selected YouTube content creators from MENA region will have free access to state-of-the-art visual and editing equipment, and also training programs, workshops and courses at the YouTube Space Dubai.
Dubai Studio City Managing Director Jamal Al-Sharif in an interview noted that the partnership, for which they had been in talks with YouTube for more than a year, stems from a “re-strategizing” of the $500 million production center’s focus.
“Film will remain, but the vision in the UAE and Dubai is to support young entrepreneurs and creatives. We are moving into a digital world,” he said.
Launched in 2007, Dubai Studio City comprises cutting-edge facilities and studios that service multimedia, film, television and music production. It has the largest sound stages in the Middle East.
“We’ve been attracting a lot of young talent creators in Dubai, so it can become the capital of digital media and content. It’s going to happen fast,” Al-Sharif added.
Dubai will be first YouTube Space in the MENA region. There are others in Los Angeles, London, Tokyo, New York, Berlin, Sao Paolo, Mumbai, Toronto and Paris. The biggest, spanning 40,000 square feet, is in Los Angeles.
YouTube will also be opening a Space in Rio de Janeiro next year.
Since the first YouTube Space was launched in 2012, more than 150,000 people around the world have attended over 19,000 hours of workshops and over 15,000 videos have been created, garnering over 165 million hours of watch time, according to a statement.