Abu Dhabi to establish a games academy
Emirate keen to attract companies in a bid to build "cultural centre"
The emirate of Abu Dhabi is in the process of building a videogames academy as part of its plan to attract the industry and build a "cultural centre" in the region.
That's according to twofour54 COO Wayne Borg, who told GamesIndustry.biz that videogames fell squarely into one of the emirate's five key pillars.
"There are five sectors that have been identified that will strategically position Abu Dhabi to fulfil that role - aeronautics, health, education, tourism and then media and entertainment," he said. "The reason this last sector was identified is that if you look at cultural centres around the world they all have these strong commercial and creative industries - look at London, Tokyo, Berlin and New York, there's this creative vibrancy there. And from a commercial and economic standpoint we want to establish a creative hub here.
"As twofour54 our role is very much about establishing content creation businesses in the region and a creative hub. We have three key areas to build that on - developing skills, providing facilities to aid the creative process and helping establish indigenous content businesses in the region.
"Our role is to put in place that physical and intellectual infrastructure to drive and help the creative industries ecosystem flourish. Within the education sector we'll be announcing an animation academy and a videogame academy shortly - with one of the industry leaders."
And he went on to reveal that one of the industry's key businesses was already involved with the setting up of that academy, although he didn't reveal which one.
"We're in the final stages of negotiating to establish a gaming academy here with one of the major publishing companies and that will be supported with a development studio so not only we producing graduates from the academy, it's a sustainable model where they will be able to go into a production environment and put those skills they've attained into practice.
"We can seed the industry here. We're getting a lot of interest from aspiring games developers in the region so we're looking to invest in their business and connect them with these publishers who have the critical mass and expertise to take those concepts and develop them into fully fledged games."
But when quizzed on whether Abu Dhabi was essentially planning to lure industry away from existing bases with tax incentive, Borg denied that was the plan - although did point out one financial aspect which may well interest some.
"We're not trying to attract businesses from other parts of the world to set up here," he said. "What we're working with is companies that recognise there's an opportunity within the region. We'll work with them to help them develop and facilitate their business. And we're a tax free environment to begin with."
The full interview with Wayne Borg is available now.