35% production rebate inbound for Saudi Arabia
Representatives from Saudi Arabia’s production industry have announced that a myriad of incentives, including a 35% rebate on expenses, are soon to be implemented. The announcement came during a press conference at the Cannes Film Festival designed to spark international interest in Saudi Arabia as a filming destination.
Ahmad Al-Maziad, CEO of Saudi Arabia’s General Culture Authority detailed: “we're developing guidelines on how to get even higher than 35%. That will be for all spend used and consumed in Saudi Arabia.”
By extension, a 50% rebate will be available to productions that hire local labour and talent, making the programme one of the most lucrative film incentives available worldwide.
The conference wasn’t without controversy however, which saw several attendees question the panel about women’s rights – a notably contentious issue for Saudi Arabia if it hopes to truly connect with international producers. Al-Maziad noted that Western dress styles, which contrast with Saudi Arabia’s traditionally conservative attire, would be permissible on set.
Under the influence of Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman, Saudi Arabia has been subjected to several reforms to bring the country closer to modern standards of living. A 35-year ban on cinemas was recently lifted, with Marvel’s Black Panther selected as the first film to be screened in the country.
Due to the nation’s landscape, Saudi Arabia will be competing directly with the United Arab Emirates which has become a go-to destination for desert and high-tech locations. Abu Dhabi, which already employs a 30% cash rebate as a financial incentive, has hosted major Hollywood productions including Star Wars: The Force Awakens and War Machine.
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