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CANNES: The NEOM media hub is set to become a hotbed for creative talent in the Kingdom as well as a major contributor to the national economy, according to one of its senior executives.
“For all the great infrastructure we will have and for all the great companies we will attract, the success of this proposition will fundamentally hinge on our ability to develop this talent pool,” said Wayne Borg, general manager of media and entertainment at NEOM. , said Arab News.
Although still in its infancy, the media hub is a key part of the NEOM smart city, and one of its missions is to compete with the world’s elite creative hubs by driving workforce development. local work.
“Initially, we are going to bring in talent, we want knowledge transfer, we want young people to learn from the best at a world level. We need to develop that talent pool here,” Borg said.
The center aims to educate and empower young people across the Kingdom by giving them hands-on experience with world-renowned filmmakers and producers.
“We should be there to provide all the opportunities for young Saudis who want to pursue their careers and who may not have had the opportunity in the past or who should have gone abroad. Now they can stay here and do it in the Kingdom and work with the best in the world,” Borg said.
“For a long time, young people were nervous about pursuing their passion in the industry here because there was no industry here, so they couldn’t see career paths and find jobs.
“We are changing that and showing that through this pipeline of productions you can grow your career, you can work in a global industry, you can work with the best people and learn and pursue your passion and have a successful career.”
In line with Saudi Vision 2030, the media hub will serve as a focal point for the film production, games and digital publishing sectors.
Ever since Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman announced plans to expand The Line to NEOM, there has been a lot of buzz surrounding the smart city.
The media hub aims to contribute to the Saudi film industry through international collaborations and the promotion of local productions. It also seeks to create initiatives in industry learning and opportunities for Saudis through various partnerships.
One of them is with the National School of Film and Television in the UK. NEOM also offers entry-level certificate courses in several disciplines for those who want to try their hand at different formats.
“Once they have received the certificates, we attach these students to productions so that they begin to gain credible experience with world-class production teams and hopefully can begin to build their portfolio. and their resume,” Borg said.
He said the hub also offers a two-year master’s program for those who want to pursue specialized fields in film.
He also created the NEOM Digital Academy which supports students interested in creating content using smartphones and other small devices. He has already made programs with the Saudi Broadcast Authority and Rotana.
“This stuff is priceless in terms of value to young people,” Borg said. “We are currently working on developing programs in secure areas of screen production and games.”
One of the strengths of the media hub is its work developing talent in the gaming industry.
“Gaming is obviously a huge priority right now in the Kingdom… (and) a huge priority for us,” Borg said.
“We must be guided by what the industry needs above all else. There’s no point in us driving it. We will facilitate it, we will develop the programs and we want to work across the Kingdom with all stakeholders to help develop this pool of talent because it is important to us.
Thanks to its investment in new talents, the media division contributes to the creation of jobs and the economic growth of the Kingdom.
“The media industry worldwide is now a real engine of economic growth and has an incredible impact, not only from an entertainment point of view or from a news point of view. It’s about this direct impact said Borg.
He added that in some countries the media sector accounts for up to 4% of GDP.
“It’s a priority sector now and it’s a sector that progressive economies are pursuing,” he said.
The $153 million film “Desert Warrior” is one of 20 productions housed at NEOM.
“In practical terms, ‘Desert Warrior’ has generated over 80,000 hotel nights,” Borg told Arab News.
“When you think of a production of 150 million dollars, if you take the post out, you will arrive at 100 million dollars injected into the local economy in six months.
“Caterers, drivers, electricians, carpenters, hotel rooms, cleaners, how it radiates and amplifies. We have horse trainers, people who take care of animals. It has such a direct impact on the economy,” he said.
The film had four months of pre-production and a five-month shoot with over 450 people on set daily.
“We were able to bring a lot of young Saudis into the project as extras…which was fantastic,” Borg said.
Through the media hub, the film also recruited 12 Saudi trainees, who worked in different jobs such as camera assistants and in general production.
“For many of them, it was their first time on a feature film set anywhere in the world,” Borg said. “And being able to do that in their home country in NEOM is a fantastic achievement and the start of an emerging development program.”