The Saudi Film Commission has unveiled the first details of its long-awaited incentive program to support and encourage local and international productions to shoot in Saudi Arabia.
The Commission has announced that inbound feature films, documentaries and animation projects shot in Saudi Arabia will be eligible for cash back of up to 40% of eligible costs.
This makes the most competitive incentive package in the Gulf region and one of the most generous in the world.
In neighboring United Arab Emirates, for example, the Abu Dhabi Film Commission is currently offering a 30% cash back.
The commission said it has studied various film incentives around the world and decided to work with cash back rebates refunded to producers as a percentage of qualifying expenses.
He added that a bespoke platform will be launched and the first apps are expected to start arriving in the first quarter of 2022.
Saudi Arabia first announced it was planning a cash back program at Cannes 2018, just months after its 35-year cinema ban was lifted. So far, however, there has been no further public announcement.
In the meantime, two big budget incoming productions have started to tour in the country.
Afghanistan by Ric Roman Waugh, action film Kandahar currently filming in the AlUla World Heritage Site, while Rupert Wyatt’s 7th century action shot Desert warr is about to finish filming in Tabuk province, northwest Saudi Arabia, near the site of the new smart city Neom.
Although the Saudi incentive plans have been kept under wraps until now, both productions have reportedly been incited, although there has been no official confirmation of this.
The new Saudi Film Commission was due to hold an announcement conference at the Red Sea International Film Festival, which will take place in Jeddah from December 6 to 15.
Instead, he issued a short statement as the festival’s awards ceremony wrapped up on Wednesday evening (December 13).
“We have worked hard to develop a competitive incentive package for local and international filmmakers and content creators. Our ambition is great, we want Saudi Arabia to become a global hub for cinema, creative production and industry talent, ”said Abdullah Al Eyaf, CEO of the Film Commission.
“The benefits of developing a world-class film industry go beyond the sector and will strengthen the Saudi cultural ecosystem as a whole, spurring economic growth and creating jobs across the country.”
The Film Commission also gave details of its strategy which includes the development of local talent, the creation of competitive services and incentive offers, the stimulation of national production, the attraction of international shoots, the creation of a strong regulatory framework and promotion of Saudi films and TV series at home and abroad.
“The strategy provides our roadmap for achieving our aspirations, working across the entire value chain to empower the sector. From developing talent, infrastructure and incentives to creating a regulatory environment that fosters the rapid development of the sector, while increasing the demand for films produced by Saudi Arabia through exploitation and distribution, ”said Abdullah Al Eyaf.
The Film Commission was launched in 2020 as one of the 11 sectoral commissions of the Ministry of Culture. It indirectly contributes to three goals of Saudi Arabia’s national cultural strategy, to increase the country’s GDP, increase the number of jobs in the sector and increase the number of locally produced feature films.