Abu Dhabi Media Co. to invest one billion dollars in feature films and digital media

Abu Dhabi Media Co., a state-owned firm fueled by the Arab capital's immense oil wealth, said Wednesday it will invest more than US$1 billion in feature film and digital media production over the next five years.

Through a new division dubbed "imagenation abu dhabi," the company plans to target "high-profile" producers in the U.S. and elsewhere, including the Middle East. Abu Dhabi Media said the division is part of its plan to become "a worldwide leader" in media production.

"Abu Dhabi has established itself as a major player in the global economy, as evidenced through recent activity in the energy, real estate and transportation sectors," Mohamed Khalaf al-Mazrouei, chairman of Abu Dhabi Media and its new subsidiary, said in a statement. "Media is no different."

Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates, controls the bulk of the country's vast oil reserves - and much of the Gulf nation's wealth and power as a result.

The emirate has in recent years become increasingly creative with its investments as it seeks to establish itself as an influential yet staid alternative to its more freewheeling neighbor, Dubai.

State investment arm Mubadala Development Co. recently set up joint ventures with General Electric Co. and energy service provider Petrofac Ltd., and a group believed to be bankrolled by the emirate's ruling family surprised the sports world this week with its takeover of English football team Manchester City. The emirate has also taken large minority stakes in high-profile financial companies such as Citigroup Inc. and private equity firm Carlyle Group.

Earlier this year, Abu Dhabi Media launched a well-funded newspaper, The National, that aims to become an English-language paper of record for the Middle East. It also publishes magazines and operates satellite television and radio stations.

Abu Dhabi Media and the film subsidiary are headed by Edward Borgerding, a former Walt Disney International executive hired in March. He said the new division aims "to make award-winning films which are commercially successful and appeal to audiences across the world."

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