The Digital Domain Media Group (DDMG) said it is collaborating with Twofour54, a production complex backed by the government of Abu Dhabi, to establish a VFX and animation studio and school there.

DDMG said it plans to hire staff locally and internationally to begin production in Twofour54 studios at the beginning of 2013 with the goal of eventually employing close to 500 workers. By the end of 2015, a new, custom-built 150,000 production complex is slated for completion. The new facility will be home to animated feature production, VFX work, and locally branded entertainment meant for global distribution, the companies said. 

"There is tremendous opportunity to produce original entertainment content for Middle Eastern audiences worldwide, and to bring Hollywood work and our own original productions here as well," said DDMG Ceo and Chairman John Textor in a prepared statement. "Abu Dhabi was the natural location for us given its strategic location, modern infrasturcture and supportive government." The Emirate of Abu Dhabi now offers a 30 percent tax rebate for film, television and commercial media projects, Twofour54 announced earlier in the week.

The new Digital Domain Institute/Abu Dhabi will be modeled on DD's school in West Palm Beach, FL — which has generated controversy because the company apparently plans to use students as unpaid labor on film productions — with classes scheduled to begin in early 2014.

DD's move in Abu Dhabi follows recent partnerships in China (with Beijing Galloping Horse) and London and Mumbai (with Reliance MediaWorks) that dramatically extend the company's global presence. At Twofour54's facilities, DD will join international partners including CNN, the BBC, and Cartoon Network. DD is currently in production on the live-action feature film Ender's Game, directed by Gavin Hood.