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UAE’s burgeoning movie industry gets purr-fect animation addition

The UAE boasts a burgeoning movie industry; from co-producing international blockbusters, such as Contagion, to hosting the Dubai International Film Festival, the Emirates is proving itself a quality act to follow in the region, when it comes to film-making.

The UAE offers all the infrastructure from technology and studios to local talent to produce movies.

Ayman Al Ziyoud of Charisma Group production house renowned for Arabic adaptations of CBS shows Entertainment Tonight and Insider, told local media that the formation of Dubai Media City and twofour54 Abu Dhabi were two key moments in the development of the movie industry in terms of finance and bringing world class studios and facilities to the UAE, as well as investing in local talent.

The entire region is garnering interest. said that UAE-based Aries Group’s Indywood Consortium has recently announced plans to invest $10 billion in India and the Middle East as part of its Vision 2020 strategy.

Aries Group chairman and CEO Sohan Roy said the company would open multiplex screens, home cinemas and animation/film schools over the next five years, creating hundreds of thousands of jobs.

Now the UAE is releasing a trailer of its first animation for the new movie Catsaway

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CATSAWAY: What are the cats doing?

Set in the UAE’s capital city Abu Dhabi, Catsaway takes us back in time to 1999 and tells the story of a group of cats trying to find a home.

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Building on UAE movie-making success

The first official trailer of Catsaway was exclusively released on the twofour54 Abu Dhabi YouTube channel and movie aficionados are now on the prowl.

This animation is being directed by Fadel Al Muhairi, who also directed Abood Kandaishan, a movie that was nominated for 2014’s Muhr Emirati Award at Dubai International Film Festival, DIFF

After more than a year of pre-production, the film is in full production with an expected theatrical debut later this year, according to Animation Magazine Online.

Tent Pictures is participating in the Abu Dhabi International Book Fair, running through May 1 at the National Exhibition Centre, where visitors can learn more about the film, it added.

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Saudi Arabia is joining the scene

Saudi Arabia gave itself a push into the industry by lifting its 35-year ban on cinema.

According to, “The Saudi government estimates that the cinema sector will contribute more than $24bn to the country’s economy by 2030, creating 30,000 permanent jobs and 130,000 temporary jobs in the process.”

By 2030, Saudi Arabia is expected to open 300 cinemas with 2,000 screens. 

And now, it has started producing films of its own.

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In February, the animated film “Bilal, a New Breed of Hero,” which opened in a number of US theatres, was the first Saudi co-directed and produced animated film to play commercially in the United States, one of its directors said.

The film opened at a number of AMC and other theatres, including AMC’s Hoffman Center 22 in Alexandria, Virginia and AMC Van Ness 14 in San Francisco.

Saudi also opened its second VOX movie theatre this week with tickets expected to go on sale to the public this weekend.

VOX Cinemas is owned by Dubai-based Majid Al Futtaim, and its CEO Alain Bejjani told the Associated Press on Thursday that the company planned to open theaters in all of the Kingdom’s major cities over the next two years.

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VOX Cinemas, the largest cinema operator in the MENA region, signed in March an exclusive distribution deal with Myrkott, the leading Saudi production company behind YouTube animated hit “Masameer” that has attracted more than 700 million views across social media.

With two million YouTube subscribers and a further three million followers across Facebook and Twitter, Myrkott has produced more than 100 “Masameer” shows covering a variety of subjects related to Saudi society and the pursuit of the 2030 Vision.