Over the past two decades, the UAE government has created several dozen free economic zones (SEZs) within its capital, whose task is to optimize conditions for the development of individual sectors of the economy. Each free zone focuses on the development of a specific segment. To achieve maximum results, it creates favorable conditions for the work, life and recreation of specialized specialists. Dubai Media City Free Zone (Twofour54) is one of these zones, located a 20–minute drive from the capital’s airport and a 50-minute drive from Dubai.
History of the FEZ
The Twofour54 project was launched in 2008. Its goal is to accelerate the development of the media industry, stimulate the development of world–class Arab media and entertainment content by Arabs for Arabs. The Government has set itself an ambitious goal – to turn Abu Dhabi into a regional center of excellence in creating content for all media platforms, including cinema, broadcasting, music, digital media, events, games and publications.
The unusual name that the district received reflects the geographical coordinates of the city of Abu Dhabi. According to the organizers of the project, it is intended to symbolize the main goal of the project – the transformation of the capital of the Emirates into a Mecca for the creators of Arabic content.
The FEZ currently covers more than 600 companies operating in all creative industries. This number includes such giants as CNN, Sky News Arabia, Cartoon Network Studios and many small and medium-sized companies. There are more than 5,000 media professionals working here, as well as about 1,000 freelancers.
This dynamic media zone provides infrastructure and services to attract international, regional and local media companies. She suggests:
- customizable offices;
- required production facilities;
- business support services;
- a variety of tools to encourage initiatives;
- conditions for training and talent development.
The Free zone is defined as the largest regional center combining the best practices in the field of the media entertainment industry. And not only the Emirates themselves, but the entire Middle East and North Africa. The strategic goal is to stimulate creative, as well as professional cooperation of leading specialists in the field of digital media, broadcasting, publishing.
Business partners or clients can be both legal entities and individuals. Everyone has the right to apply for legal or consulting support, as well as assistance from government agencies in matters of:
- company registration;
- license registration;
- obtaining visas for shareholders and employees.
The provision of comprehensive assistance and the organization of comfortable conditions for work and recreation are the main strategic objectives of the project.
In other words, Twofour54 is organized to assist in the registration and placement of leading industry enterprises in the jurisdiction, providing them with legal support, technical capabilities and other tools for the production of high-quality media content that meets international standards.
Preferential treatment is provided for businesses in the region:
- television and radio broadcasting;
- audio and video production;
- web services and mobile content;
- publishing, book printing, printing services;
- media development-technologies;
- advertising and marketing;
- film industry;
- activities in the field of education and training;
- services for the organization of public events;
- games and entertainment;
- information data processing and transmission services.
How businesses are supported
Twofour54 supports enterprises by providing any necessary solutions and resources for work and improvement in the field of media. These may be issues related to the purchase of visas, processing of customs documents, ordering tickets, organizing flights, obtaining public services. The main task is to surround local talented youth, freelancers and specialists from abroad with attention, care and create comfortable conditions for them to work and prosper. Assistance is provided in four directions, each of which has its own name.
A leading regional vocational training academy aimed at young Arabs who have graduated from secondary and higher educational institutions and are planning a career in the media industry. A specialized educational base has been created here, where you can get a new specialty in the field of media and entertainment, develop existing skills, improve your qualifications or retrain. Educational programs and courses are developed and conducted with the support of world-class experts working for the BBC, at the Thomson Foundations and Thomson Reuters.
Provides innovative support and funding for new local businesses and promising creative ideas on print, online, mobile and television platforms in the Middle East and North Africa. This fund provides not only financial support, but also provides practical recommendations, as well as assistance from industry experts, which allows accelerating the implementation of successful initiatives.
Is engaged in the supply of equipment for production, media asset management, broadcasting, technical support. This unit provides the company with the necessary latest communication technologies, including playback, uplink and downlink services.
Provides comprehensive services that simplify the relocation and organization of local, regional and international companies, works on the principle of “one window”.
- Favorable business climate. This is reflected in the simplified registration of the enterprise, minimal administrative costs, the possibility of 100% foreign ownership, the absence of taxes, requirements for the authorized capital, comprehensive state support.
- Convenient economic and geographical location. The FEZ is located in the center of the capital of the state, where all business structures, transport arteries and banks are concentrated.
- This is a young, rapidly growing market of one of the most sought-after sectors of the economy.
- Opportunities for business expansion. Thousands of companies operating in specialized and related economic fields open up wide opportunities for finding new partners, expanding the customer base, as well as introducing best practices and technologies.
- Stable legal framework. The legal norms regulating the activities of business structures comply with international requirements and provide full protection of commercial interests and property rights.
The FEZ offers large production and post-production centers operated by Geomedia Studios with year-round access. The total area of the studio pavilions is more than 4.5 million square meters, and the adjacent territories for nature photography (Backlot) occupy another 300 thousand square meters. The only production center in the UAE certified by Dolby Vision operates here.
The purpose-built studio complex includes 7 broadcasting studios, each of which is equipped with a full production gallery, a green room, dressing rooms and fitting rooms. The work of the studios is supported by a team of highly qualified technicians and operators. All pavilions are fully soundproofed, equipped with lighting devices, have doors measuring 4 × 4 meters, providing full access to the entrance.
In cooperation with the media company Ross Video (Canada), virtually unlimited opportunities have been created for the development of virtual reality. This is the first facility in the Middle East that has such high technologies of 3D graphics and augmented reality (AR).
Using interactive virtual production sets, the user can create amazing 3D worlds as well as contexts in real time. The proposed solutions include:
- virtual studios;
- virtual reality production tools;
- functions to achieve augmented reality.
The technologies provided also allow you to reduce costs and speed up the production of content.
Nature shooting set
There is a wide selection of decorations, construction sites and the creation of the necessary landscapes that can be adapted for your production. On-site support facilities include:
- dressing rooms and changing rooms;
- large dining room;
- specially built production offices.
The award-winning post-production company has repeatedly been recognized by Digital Studio as the “Postproduction House of the Year”. Currently, the partner company Genomedia Studios owns and operates post-production studios. They employ a large staff of video and audio editors that ensure the production of high-quality content.
Post-production offers a 4K, 2K and HD platform for both Dry Hire and Wet Hire requirements. All sets are connected to a centralized server that provides uninterrupted data transfer from the editing rooms to the audio sets, color correction and the viewing room.
Hardware and software include:
- editing packages — Adobe Creative Cloud Package, Final Cut Pro X and AVID media composer, serviced by media center and interaction system;
- 4K High-end Color Grading Suite — Baselight and Davinci Resolve with reference monitor (Dolby + Sony);
- audio packages — Pro-tools 5.1, Audio Booth and Foley studios;
- multimedia management services for broadcasting and cinema, including digital archiving.
It is located on the territory of the postproduction center and is designed for 16 seats. It provides Christie True 4K movie projection and Dolby surround sound, guaranteeing viewers the best viewing experience.
Requirements for creating a business
When starting to register a business, pay attention to the following:
Types of legal entities
- RSEZ (if one shareholder) or FEZ-LLC (if there are more than one shareholders);
- a branch of a local company;
- a branch of a foreign company.
- business licenses (for broadcasting, print media, internet, animation);
- distribution licenses.
Regulation of company registration
Produced in accordance with Decree No. 12 of Abu Dhabi of 2007. The Regulatory Department of the Governing Body of the Free Zone.
At least one, there is no upper limit on the number.
The company has the right to issue any classes of shares. All of them must be repaid before distribution. Bearer shares are prohibited.
There are no requirements.
There must be at least two individuals.
Every organization must have a secretary.
If the company is registered as an LLC, then it must have a manager whose name is indicated in the license.
It should end with the phrase “Free Zone Limited Liability Company”. It is forbidden to use any words and phrases of a religious nature, as well as the name of the capital (Abu Dhabi) or the abbreviation of the country (UAE).
Should shareholders be present at registration?
The presence is allowed in person or through an attorney.
In which banks can I open accounts?
In any, regardless of jurisdiction.
There is no requirement for annual reporting. However, if the audit report is required by the governing bodies, the firm will have to appoint an auditor, prepare documentation and submit it at the place of request.
They should be held at least once a year.
0% on all forms of taxes.
All companies operate in accordance with the laws of the UAE in general, but in some details they are subject to the law of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi.
If you decide to open your own business or become an employee of any company located in the UAE, you will need a resident visa. This is a mark in the passport that allows you to temporarily reside and work in the country. The mark is made by an employee of the state immigration service, valid for 2 or 3 years, after which it must be extended.
The Immigration Service will study the criminal history of the applicant and will require a medical examination. If criminal episodes in the past or the presence of a number of diseases (tuberculosis, HIV, hepatitis) are established, the visa will be refused. The government carefully monitors incoming foreigners and restricts the entry of potentially dangerous persons.
The registration procedure includes the following steps:
- Obtaining an entry permit “Entry Permit”. This is done before arriving in the country.
- Crossing the border, passing passport control, obtaining an entry mark, submitting data to the immigration service.
- Passing a medical examination. It takes from two to four days.
- Registration of Emirates ID – an Emirati identity card. It contains all the biometric data of a person: fingerprints, a scan of the retina, a photo. Biometrics are taken at a specialized state identification center. The card is made within 4-5 weeks. However, after providing biometric data, the client is issued a certificate with which to apply for a visa.
The status of a resident gives the right to:
- reside in the country;
- register with the Ministry of Economy, issue a tax resident certificate that will exempt you from paying taxes at home;
- rent a house;
- get a driver’s license;
- open a bank account;
- send the child to school;
- apply to government agencies.
It is not possible to purchase an investor visa in Twofour54, and the duration of a working or dependent one depends on the area of the rented office, the type of company and its profile.
What documents will be required?
To register a limited liability company, you will need a package of documents, the contents of which depend on whether the applicant is an individual or a corporate.
For an individual
- personal data;
- power of attorney for the manager or legal representative;
- signature sample;
- passport copy;
- initial capital in the bank and a letter of recommendation from it.
- the decision of the Board to participate in the LLC;
- power of attorney in the name of the legal representative with the attachment of a sample of his signature, a scan of the passport;
- registration certificate or documents of the parent company (certificate, founding agreement, charter);
- permission of the Council to register in the form of a branch;
- guarantees of a financial obligation.
Approximate cost of opening a company
The total cost starts from 26900 dirhams, which is equivalent to about 7370 US dollars.
- registration fee – 5000 dirhams;
- license – 21900 dirhams.
Renting a workplace in a business center will cost 13,500 dirhams.
This platform provides access to a community of 600 local, regional and international media partners, as well as many opportunities for cooperation with the largest names in the industry. If you want to pursue a freelance career in media, production and entertainment in the UAE, you will need a freelance visa.
To simplify and speed up the process of obtaining the necessary documents, you can use the services of a special freelance public relations team. Employees will provide support with obtaining resident status, Emirates identity card and medical insurance. In addition, they will give advice on how to set up your business to get the most out of your experience.
By joining the freelance freelancer support program, you will receive a number of privileges:
- you will not be able to pay for a freelancer license for two years from the date of issue;
- you will acquire a resident status for two years;
- get access to more than 600 world-class media and entertainment companies;
- get involved in events where you can establish contact with partners, as well as government agencies;
- become participants in talent development and training programs;
- discover access to working briefings on the Connect online portal;
- join the youth community, which has already united more than 15,000 participants.
What is needed for this?
To become a freelancer, you need to obtain a resident visa and a license of an individual entrepreneur (freelancer) — a permit from the Dubai Media City Free Zone Authority, which allows an individual to work in the media zone as a media professional. The document will indicate the types of activities that a freelancer can perform in the media zone.
Now that the application rules have been simplified, it has become easy to issue a permit:
Step 1. Apply
It must be accompanied by:
- a copy of your passport;
- a passport-sized digital photo;
- 2 professional recommendations (with contact details);
- a job offer or a letter about intentions from a business partner of the free zone.
If you don’t have a job offer or a letter of intent, you can submit a business plan that includes:
- personal profile — a brief autobiography describing the experience in the professional field;
- work — what you plan to do in the Administration of the media zone in Abu Dhabi, using your contacts as recommendations;
- financial overview of the expected income.
The application will be reviewed within 3 working days, then the manager will contact you. As soon as the application is approved, a meeting will be arranged with you to complete the licensing process and legalize the residence.
Step 2. Complete the documents
To obtain a visa, you will need a health insurance policy approved by the Abu Dhabi Department of Health and the Abu Dhabi Immigration Service. Then you will need to sign and return the application, pay the fee.
Step 3. Become a resident and start working at Twofour54
You will be issued a business license of an individual entrepreneur and a work visa for a period of two years (for non-GCC citizens), which can be converted into a residence permit.
The GCC is the Cooperation Union of the Arab States of the Persian Gulf.