The Abu Dhabi Investment Office (ADIO) is partnering with the region’s leading video on demand service, STARZPLAY, to establish the company’s headquarters in Abu Dhabi. The partnership is part of ADIO’s AED 2 billion (USD 545 million) Innovation Programme, an initiative of the Abu Dhabi government’s Ghadan 21 accelerator programme.

Establishing its headquarters in Abu Dhabi with ADIO’s support will enable STARZPLAY to further strengthen the production of regionally relevant original content for its audiences. UAE-founded STARZPLAY provides premium content to its over 1.8 million subscribers in 20 countries, including blockbuster movies, exclusive TV shows, kids content and Arabic series. Since its inception in 2015, STARZPLAY has accelerated its growth with a record year in 2020 in terms of users, revenues and content consumption.

H.E. Dr. Tariq Bin Hendi, Director General of ADIO, said: “Abu Dhabi’s creative sector is rapidly taking shape with significant government investment, a steady flow of skilled talent and sound infrastructure to fuel the ambitions of creators and businesses. The media industry is coming together with a cohesive and elevated offering to welcome and support companies from all around the world. As a long-term partner, we are here to help businesses aligned with our vision and fast-track their progress through support for R&D, while ensuring they are suitably equipped to grow sustainably on the global stage.”

From its headquarters in Abu Dhabi, STARZPLAY will ramp up partnerships with the city’s vibrant media and creative ecosystem to offer exclusive, in-demand entertainment to its subscribers. Building on existing cooperation with entities such as Abu Dhabi Media, twofour54 and Image Nation Abu Dhabi, STARZPLAY will partner with local production houses and animation studios to produce compelling original content, especially relevant for the region’s largest demographic, the 200 million Arab youth.

As part of the strategic partnership with ADIO, STARZPLAY will build a cutting-edge, next-generation private cloud in Abu Dhabi to meet the growing consumer demand in the region. STARZPLAY will also offer its private cloud to other media companies as a fully managed and turnkey over-the-top (OTT) solution. In addition, STARZPLAY will build its technology team, comprising of AI engineers and data scientists, to support the Abu Dhabi operations.

Maaz Sheikh, CEO and Co-Founder of STARZPLAY, said: “With our new headquarters in Abu Dhabi, we are excited about producing more original content through enhanced media partnerships. Further, building the new cloud facility will bring us closer to our fans to serve them with a richer and more personalised experience. These are pivotal steps in our evolution as a regional tech and media champion and we are grateful to ADIO for supporting our strategic growth vision.” 

As part of the Innovation Programme partnership, ADIO has awarded STARZPLAY competitive financial incentives, including rebates on high-skilled payroll, technology-related capital expenditure and other operating expenditure, as well as non-financial incentives, such as assistance with company establishment and engagement with Abu Dhabi ecosystem partners.

In addition to the ICT sector, ADIO’s Innovation Programme targets innovation-led companies and startups in financial services, health services and biopharma, agriculture technology, tourism and more.