Saudi Arabia Launches 40% Cash Rebate Program For Film

Saudi Arabia has taken another step in its push to become a movie production hub by launching its long-awaited 40% cash rebate to grow the local economy.

Unveiling the Film Saudi initiative at the Cannes Saudi Pavilion, the Saudi Film Commission (SFC) said the program is now open for applications via a dedicated platform for film productions.

Productions that recruit Saudi crew and talent above and below the line, feature the Kingdom’s culture, history and people along with showcasing the diverse selection of landscapes in Saudi Arabia are among the qualifiers for incentives of up to 40%, with interested parties directed towards the website.

The SFC said its cinematic industry is “now the fastest growing in the Middle East and provides a lucrative economic opportunity for international businesses,” with streamers attracted to the “vast domestic market and wealth of talented new voices.”

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Three Hollywood pics, Roman Waugh’s Kandahar, Rupert Wyatt’s Desert Warrior and the Russo Brothers’ crime drama Cherry have shot in the last 18 months, along with eight local features and a number of documentaries, according to the SFC.

The country hosted the first edition of the Red Sea International Film Festival last December in Jeddah, opened by Joe Wright’s Cyrano and featuring a number of local films in the Red Sea Competition.

There has been much criticism aimed at the film world for partaking in the festival, who criticized the Saudi authorities for trying to divert international attention from the country’s poor human rights record, in a similar vein to the “sportswashing” critiques.

SFC CEO Abdullah Al Eyaf said: “The film industry is rapidly accelerating as we continue to invest in training our local crews and developing our infrastructure to ensure we are in a position to support all productions.

“Incentivizing film productions will enable us to tap into the potential of our growing film industry, showcase our unique and breathtaking landscapes, and attract a diverse range of productions to the Kingdom.”

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