“When you put a lot of creatives together in the same space, magic happens,” says Yara Awad, Head of Commercial Projects and Strategic Partnerships at twofour54.
The new Community Hub is a collaborative, co-creating space located at the heart of the Yas Creative Hub, the media campus developed by twofour54 in Abu Dhabi, the UAE capital. Designed to provide space for everyone involved in the media and creative industries, from those thinking about taking their first steps on a new career path to individuals and companies that are already established but keen to grow and develop. It will be a place where great ideas can be born and nurtured and have been designed with a new approach to co-working, to encourage chance encounters between potential collaborators and partners.
Instead of freelancers sitting alone at a rented desk or a company taking temporary office space but working in isolation, the Community Hub brings together different disciplines and does far more to foster collaboration and networking among those with different skill sets and perspectives.
A membership-based co-working space is dedicated to the zone’s start-ups, freelancers and those taking their first step into the creative industries, and will be available on an ad hoc, project-by-project basis. More established enterprises are based in their own separate co-working space.
Community Hub ReportBy twofour54
There are also areas dedicated to hosting large events, workshops and training programmes, which will be held on a regular basis. And there will be a programme of speakers coming to the Community Hub to offer insights and inspiration for nascent talent and experienced professionals, whether they are involved in gaming, filmmaking, media or any other part of the creative landscape.
Alongside the town hall and open meeting spaces, there are private meeting rooms, lounges, screening rooms, studios and brainstorming areas – all designed to foster an environment of networking and relationship-building so that individuals and companies can help each other and contribute to the growth of the industry.
Alongside all this, the Community Hub, which opened its doors last month, is home to three initiatives, focused on youth, filmmaking and gaming. These provide a creative underpinning for much of what goes on at the site and really mark the Community Hub out from the crowd.
On the youth side, Creative Lab will provide a new home for almost 16,000 members who are collaborating on and offline. Creative Lab provides a community for aspiring creatives from Abu Dhabi and the surrounding region, and is aimed at anyone interested in film, TV, publishing, music, gaming, animation and illustration. Creative Lab hosts workshops and annual summer and winter camps for younger creative members, as well as internship opportunities throughout the year on local and international projects.
“Moving to the hub will help our members be part of a bigger community – connecting them with world-class experts in the creative industry,” says Maitha Khalifa, Head of Creative Lab. “Our members have direct access to the professionals and vice versa so whenever they need interns or volunteers and when they want to collaborate, they can do that directly.”
Another key component is a dedicated area for Arab Film Studio, the flagship training programme for filmmakers offered by Image Nation Abu Dhabi. The training programme, which has run for more than a decade, offers world-class development programmes for all aspects of content creation – from filmmaking, scriptwriting and storytelling.
“We are excited to have a dedicated space for Arab Film Studio and our participants,” says Alicia Gonzalez, Head of Talent Development at Image Nation Abu Dhabi. “It’s an area for our community to use, with fully equipped classrooms and editing suites to see their ideas come to life. It’s a place where our students can meet, learn and create – as well as network with the wider creative community in Abu Dhabi. It’s a multi-purpose hub.”
The Community Hub is also home to the AD Gaming Hub, developed with support from the US gaming giant Unity Technologies. Here students, professionals and small businesses will be able to learn and pass on the skills needed to succeed in the fast-growing gaming industry. The Unity Centre of Excellence provides seamless access to technology, mentorship, training and technical advice to cultivate talent and help launch new careers and businesses.
“We have workstations fitted out with all the latest tech, so people who want to come in for a day to work on a project can do that,” says Sultan al-Riyami, Head of Gaming and eSports at AD Gaming. “But it also needs to be active, it needs to have life, so we’re going to bring in experts on a regular basis to lead workshops and give insightful talks to help people get through any roadblocks they might be facing. We’re giving people space to collaborate and work together.”