Ubisoft opening studio in Abu Dhabi

By Xav de Matos, Oct 25, 2011 11:00am PDT

Ubisoft has announced plans for continued expansion worldwide today, revealing it will open a new development studio in the United Arab Emirates capital city of Abu Dhabi. The announcement was made with Abu Dhabi's Media Zone Authority twofour54 and marks "the first time a major games publisher has established a direct presence in the Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf."

The opening is slated to create 100 new jobs in the region over the next five years.

"The demographics and the pool of skilled technical talent in the Middle East and North Africa region are key factors that will contribute to the success of this new studio," Ubisoft's executive director of worldwide studios, Christine Burgess-Quémard, said.

In order to establish a media and entertainment hub for the region, the Abu Dhabi government formed twofour54, which has set its sights on bringing video game development to the Middle East and North Africa. "The digital games played by Arabs have traditionally been developed outside the region, which means that they rarely have a direct relevance to Arab gamers," Wayne Borg, Deputy CEO & Chief Operating Officer at twofour54 said.

Ubisoft's Abu Dhabi studio will work on "online gaming titles in collabortation with other Ubisoft Studios," before eventually branching off into original titles that "appeal to local and international audiences alike."

The plan is similar to Ubisoft Shanghai, the publisher's second-largest studio, which has contributed to multiple Tom Clancy-related titles and took over development of Ubisoft's upcoming title I Am Alive.

"Our agreement with Ubisoft will benefit the region in that it will enable the development of titles that resonate with the local population, whilst also building the skills of young Arabs to allow the region to create its own games and developing a gaming industry base here at twofour54," Borg said.

Ubisoft China's former VP of business development, Yannick Theler, has been selected to manage the new studio. The ten-year industry vet most recently served as the HR director of Ubisoft Shanghai.

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