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Saudi Arabia plans to build a new media city on the outskirts of its capital. But will visa requirements and cultural intransigence thwart a bold idea?
December 17, 2009 1:02 by Sarah Abdullah
Al Wafa Media Production’s Parkar says that despite the regional competition from the kingdom’s neighbors, many media production companies would welcome the construction of the city and would opt to stay in the country rather than moving shop elsewhere – no matter how close.
“I think that most media production companies in Saudi Arabia are familiar with the terms and regulations of video production and would rather stay,” Parkar says. “As long as the city has all the same high technology, why would they leave?”
He says he thinks that many international media companies would be interested in developing a presence in the country, but there is some preparation that needs to be done. “The atmosphere associated with business visas and licensing need to be relaxed, because currently it is quite difficult for international organizations to get into the kingdom to see the great potential and rich culture Saudi Arabia has to offer,” Parkar says.
Roger Harrison, a professional photographer and journalist from Britain who has been working in Saudi Arabia for the past two decades, says that a primary drawback to grouping Saudi Arabia’s media production companies into one city would be that many well-known companies in other major cities (and other parts of the capital) have already created a client base and would be reluctant to move to the capital.
“I don’t think that many international media companies would ever give a second thought to opening a branch office in Riyadh, primarily due to the tough restriction on business visas,” says Harrison.