Saudi Film Commission announces 40% cash rebate program in Cannes

In an announcement from the Festival de Cannes, the Saudi Film Commission (SFC) launched the highly anticipated up to 40% cash rebate program "Film Saudi" -- now functional and open for applications via a dedicated platform for film productions.
Saudi Film Commission announces 40% cash rebate program in Cannes

Saudi Arabia is set to become a world-class center for production, with their “Film Saudi” program providing major incentives for local, regional, and international film producers to base their creative projects in the Kingdom, whilst supporting the screen sector to develop and participate on the international stage. 

Abdullah Al Eyaf, CEO of the Saudi Film Commission announced earlier: “We are delighted to open applications for our cash rebate program “Film Saudi” and welcome productions to Saudi Arabia. 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.”

Film productions planning to film either partially or fully in Saudi are invited to apply for the incentives, and can find out more information on their website

While we may think of Saudi Arabia as a land of sprawling deserts, truth is the vast Kingdom crosses various climates and ecosystems that allow for the greenery of the Fayfa mountains, the flowering mountain paradise of Taif (where the namesake rose needed for the precious perfume oil is grown), the rock formations of Al Ula and the many seaside views which include Jeddah on the Red Sea and Haql Shipwreck Beach in the northwestern Tabuk Region.

It must be pointed out that the rebate takes into account how much local talent and infrastructure is employed in the project. 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 percent.

Since reopening the first theaters in 2018, the country’s cinema industry is now the fastest growing in the Middle East and provides a lucrative economic opportunity for international businesses. Streaming platforms are also attracted to the vast domestic market and its wealth of talented new voices as well as investing in the development of new titles in a variety of formats in response to increased demand for Arabic content and international acclaim on the festival circuit.  

Over the last 18 months, Saudi Arabia has provided the backdrop for three major Hollywood films, Ric Roman Waugh’s action thriller Kandahar, starring Gerard Butler and Navid Negahban -- filmed in the extraordinary landscape of AlUla, home to the UNESCO World Heritage Site, Hegra, and also in the city of Jeddah. Plus Rupert Wyatt’s historical epic Desert Warrior shot in what is due to become the incredible new city state of Neom and the region of Tabuk as well as the Russo Brothers’ crime drama Cherry shot in AlUla and the capital Riyadh, and starring Tom Holland. 

In addition, 8 local feature films have reached completion in the last 12 months, along with a slate of documentaries and local productions. Home-grown features currently in production include, Norah written and directed by Tawfik Alzaidi, and Within Sand directed by Moe Alatawi. Both films were presented with awards at the Saudi Film Commission’s Daw Film Competition, an initiative launched in September 2019 and supported by the "Quality of Life Program," one of Saudi Vision 2030’s realization programs. 

The Saudi Film Commission made the announcement at theedition of the Cannes International Film Festival where it is hosting the Saudi Pavilion and enjoying the high footfall of media, filmmakers, and industry professionals. They are joined by other Saudi partners at the Pavilion including the Red Sea International Film Festival (RSIFF); the Ministry of Investment of Saudi Arabia (MISA); Film AlUla; the media hub of Neom; Ithra (King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture); and the MBC Group.

A range of other entities covering several sectors of the media and entertainment industry are also present in Cannes, including production, distribution, content creation and organizations working in partnership to boost film talent and international collaborations.

This is central to the commission’s mission to build international relationships within the film industry, champion new and exciting local talent and promote Saudi Arabia’s flourishing film industry. 

The Saudi Film Commission (SFC), one of the Ministry of Culture’s 11 sector-specific commissions, oversees the Kingdom’s evolving film sector, supporting established and aspiring film professionals, and identifying and promoting local Saudi Talent. Launched in 2020, the SFC aims to drive the growth of a thriving production ecosystem to address the increase in domestic and international demand. 

The Commission's goal is to position Saudi Arabia as a global destination for the film industry, along with creating competitive services and incentives, attracting international shoots, creating a strong regulatory framework, and promoting Saudi films at home and internationally.

For more information and to film in KSA, visit the "Film Saudi" website.

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