Abu Dhabi & Israel Sign Major Film & TV Deal

Just days after the UAE normalized diplomatic relations with Israel, the Abu Dhabi Film Commision signed a cooperation agreement with the Israel Film Fund and the Jerusalem Sam Spiegel Film and Television School.

Under the formal agreement, Emirati and Israeli filmmakers will team up to host virtual seminars, workshops, training and development programs. It will also give Emirati students the first chance to study at Sam Spiegel’s film school, as well as participate in the upcoming International Film Lab Competition in 2021. Additionally, the competition has selected one UAE film director to participate as a jury member for the first time in history.

The new film deal also unveiled future plans for the annual Emirati Film Festival to rotate between Abu Dhabi and Israel. Each year, the high-profile event will showcase Emirati and Israel productions, with an emphasis on their shared commitment for tolerance, education and cultural understanding.

Following this breakthrough, Hans Fraikin, the Abu Dhabi Film Commissioner, commented: “We are delighted with this historic cooperation agreement with the Israel Film Fund and the Sam Spiegel Film School. This new partnership between the UAE and Israel will be extremely beneficial for our burgeoning Emirati film and television community by allowing our talented content creators to broaden their landscapes and develop skills from diverse expertise.”

In the last decade, Abu Dhabi has rapidly evolved into a global hub for film, media, innovation and art. The Emirati capital is now home to several major media outlets including twofour54 and the Abu Dhabi Film Commision (ADFC). Since the film commission was established in 2009, the UAE has participated in major Hollywood movies including Star Wars, Mission Impossible and Fast and Furious.

As the two sides usher in a new era of peace, they have already begun to take steps to advance UAE-Iraeli film cooperation, including a special screening of Emirati and Israeli short films at Abu Dhabi’s Al Qattara Cinema in January 2021. Just a few months later, they teamed up to launch a new webinar series called Film Exchange: Abu Dhabi – Israel. The virtual series is focused on film production and talent development and will discuss a wide range of topics including film funding and new collaborative opportunities for filmmakers.

Furthermore, the leading Israeli docu-reality series, Goalstar, has recently announced plans to film its upcoming season in the Emirates. The long-time series has successfully aired since 2012 and will soon become the first Israeli television series to ever be shot and produced in the UAE.

Learn more about the vast world of media and entertainment in Abu Dhabi.