“When you put a lot of creative materials together in one space, magic happens,” says Yara Awad, Head of Commercial Projects and Strategic Partnerships, twofour54.
The new Community Hub is a collaborative space located at the heart of the Yas Creative Hub, a media campus developed by twofour54 in Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates. Designed to provide space for all media and creative industry players, from individuals considering their first steps to a new career path, to companies that are already established but want to grow and develop. It is a place where great ideas can be born and nurtured, and they are designed in a new way of collaboration to encourage chance encounters between potential collaborators and partners.
Instead of freelancers sitting alone at a rented desk or a company occupying temporary office space but working in isolation, Community Hub connects different disciplines and does much more to promote collaboration and networking between different skills and perspectives.
The membership-based co-working space is dedicated to the zone’s start-ups, freelancers and first-timers in the creative fields, and is available on a case-by-case, project-by-project basis. More established companies are located in their own separate workspace.
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There are also major events, workshops and training programs organized regularly in the area. The Community Center will also feature a program of speakers offering insight and inspiration to emerging talent and seasoned professionals, whether they are involved in gaming, filmmaking, media or any other part of the creative landscape.
Alongside the Town Hall and open Meeting Rooms are private meeting rooms, lounges, showrooms, studios and brainstorming areas – all designed to foster a networking and relationship-building environment so that individuals and businesses can help each other and contribute to the growth of the industry.
In addition to all this, the Community Hub, which opened its doors last month, offers three initiatives focused on youth, filmmaking and gaming. These provide the creative foundation for much of what happens on the site and set Community Hub apart.
On the youth side, Creative Lab provides a new home for nearly 16,000 members who collaborate and offline. Creative Lab provides a community for creatives from Abu Dhabi and the surrounding region, and is aimed at anyone interested in film, television, publishing, music, games, animation and illustration. Creative Lab hosts workshops and annual summer and winter camps for younger creative members, as well as year-round internship opportunities on local and international projects.
“Moving to the center helps our members be part of a larger community by connecting them with world-class experts in the creative industry,” says Creative Lab Director Maitha Khalifa. “Our members have direct contact with professionals and vice versa, so whenever they need interns or volunteers and when they want to collaborate, they can do it directly.”
Another important part is the area dedicated to the Arab Film Studio, Image Nation Abu Dhabi’s flagship training program for filmmakers. The training program, which has been running for more than a decade, offers world-class development programs for all aspects of content production – from filmmaking, screenwriting and storytelling.
“We are thrilled to have a dedicated venue for Arab Film Studio and our participants,” says Alicia Gonzalez, Head of Talent Development at Image Nation Abu Dhabi. “It’s a place our community can use, with fully equipped classrooms and editing spaces to help bring ideas to life. It is a place for our students to meet, learn and create – and network with the wider creative community in Abu Dhabi. It’s a multipurpose center.”
The Community Hub also features the AD Gaming Hub, developed with the support of the US gaming giant Unity Technologies. Here, students, professionals and small businesses can learn and impart the skills needed to succeed in the fast-growing gaming industry. The Unity Center of Excellence provides seamless access to technology, mentoring, training and technical advice to grow talent and launch new practitioners and businesses.
“We have workstations equipped with all the latest technology, so people who want to come in for the day to work on a project can do so,” says Sultan al-Riyami, director of gaming and eSports at AD Gaming. “But it also has to be active, it has to have life, so we’re going to bring in experts regularly to lead workshops and have insightful conversations to help people overcome any obstacles they may be facing. We’re giving people space to collaborate and work together.”