NEOM, the highly anticipated futuristic region in northwest Saudi Arabia by the Red Sea in development, announced the opening of NEOM Media Village and Bajdah Desert Studios. Together, the structures will be the largest sound stages in the Kingdom with extensive production facilities.
Along with the opening, NEOM also officially stated that it would offer a 40%+ production incentive program for feature films, unscripted and scripted television, and commercials. Producers also have the option of earning a higher percentage of rebate based on their contribution to the development of the industry in the region.
Three sound stages are currently operational at the facility with seven more scheduled to open by the first quarter of 2023. There are also 350 serviced units for on-site accommodation. Over the past 18 months, sound sets have partnered with 25 different productions.
NEOM Media Village houses a 2,400 m² sound stage and has three other stages under construction. Bajdah Desert Studios has the largest stages with two of 3,000 m² each, with four becoming active in late 2022. One of the stages will be a highly developed volumetric production stage.
In a statement, Wayne Borg, managing director of media, entertainment and culture industries at NEOM, said: “It is clear that production incentives play a vital role in terms of attracting productions, but are best leveraged when the whole package is in place: infrastructure, on-the-ground international production expertise, team depth and ease of doing business,”
“NEOM is now able to offer this competitive package.”
The region has an in-house international production team to support productions at all stages of operation and capacity. Apart from accommodation capabilities, the studios have SFX facilities, construction warehouses, set production offices, props facilities, a cabinet and a large backlot space that can be used to allow the construction of scenery. Equipment is also available on site with areas for cameras, complex drones, gripping and lighting, aerial pods, etc. all available at both sites.
In 2021, the most notable production from the hosted facilities was Desert Warrior, directed by Rupert Wyatt (Rise of the Planet of the Apes) and starring Anthony Mackie, Sir Ben Kingsley and Aiysha Hart.
“This is an important step in achieving our goal of becoming the epicenter of the regional media industry,” added Borg. “Our team, facilities, and diverse filming locations allow us to provide a seamless, world-class production experience and use our capacity and capabilities to become the focal point for collaboration between talent, creators, and key contributors. within the global media industry.