Finally, Hollywood comes to Dubai

Only a year ago, it seemed like a pipe dream. But by the end of 2006, it is likely that Hollywood may be moving to Dubai. And no, this isn’t the stuff of a science fiction or fantasy. As we report this week, one of the world’s most innovative outsourcing projects is about to kick off in the Arab world.

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By  Richard Agnew Published  December 11, 2005

|~||~||~|Only a year ago, it seemed like a pipe dream. But by the end of 2006, it is likely that Hollywood may be moving to Dubai. And no, this isn’t the stuff of a science fiction or fantasy. As we report this week, one of the world’s most innovative outsourcing projects is about to kick off in the Arab world. Akash Arora, the brilliant entrepreneur behind Netlink Solutions, is now gaining a reputation as the man taking the relatively dull outsourcing industry to the next level - one of superstardom. His plans for Animation City in Dubai are nothing short of genius: to create the biggest pool of Hollywood animation production talent anywhere in the world, here in Dubai. The idea is not as crazy as it sounds: Over 70% of several major Hollywood productions are now in the form of animation — either in cartoon style, or the more common science fiction blockbusters such as Star Wars. Even huge hits such as Kill Bill were intertwined with lengthy animation scenes done in front of a computer. So why not do it in front of a computer in Dubai? With tax exemptions, high standards of accommodation, first rate health care, and other benefits, it is no surprise that over 200 of the world’s top animators have already agreed to move to the city. The big spending movie makers in America are eager to slash budgets, and re-locating much of their work to Animation City is an obvious way forward. But why not move to traditional outsourcing centres, particularly those in India? As Arora himself explains, India may have now become too good at outsourcing. Several companies spend up to six months training local staff to work in Western companies, only to see them jump ship. Put simply, there is no employee loyalty whatsoever in the outsourcing industry, and certainly not in India. Which is why this latest project by Akash Arora not only deserves to succeed, and in our view will succeed, but could change the movie industry for decades to come. And not a day too soon. ||**||Burning bridges|~||~||~|Condoleezza Rice’s blunt defence of the US’ anti-terror tactics this week will have done little to help America heal its rift with other international powers. Although it represented the first formal admission since 9/11 that the US does practise “extraordinary rendition” — seizing suspects and taking them to other countries where they can be “questioned, held or brought to justice” — the secretary of state’s uncompromising tone will have done little to assuage international uproar over its activities, including the alleged establishment of so-called covert prisons abroad. Considering that there is no clear end to a war on terror, her argument that “international law allows a state to detain enemy combatants for the duration of hostilities” will provide little comfort for the hundreds of detainees held by the US without the prospect of trial. Nor will it give potential allies of the US any help in justifying to their people why they should move closer to its policies, just at a time when it needs them most.||**||Holding court|~||~||~|The trial of Saddam Hussein would be on the verge of becoming comical, were it not for the seriousness of the charges levied against the former Iraqi dictator and his henchmen. Their catalogue of horrendous crimes started with the killing of 143 people in the town of Dujail, where an attempt was made on the life of the ex-president — but that is the tip of the iceberg. The gassing of Kurds, the cruel draining of the southern Iraqi marshes, the invasion of Kuwait and the use of biological and chemical weapons against Iran are all awful legacies of a belligerent regime and a brutal leader. Now that Saddam is seeing his day in court, the world has seen his audacity in asking for the very liberties he deprived his own people of, and his unwillingness to accept he is no longer the country’s leader. We’ve seen enough — but unfortunately one suspects we’ll be seeing a lot of Saddam for some time.||**||

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