Former managing director of Dubai International Film Festival (Diff) Shivani Pandya Malhotra and Emirati showrunner Mohammad Saeed Harib have teamed up for a new venture in the UAE to champion regional content.

NearEast Entertainment is a marketing and strategic consultancy service targeting the TV, music, film, arts and live events sectors in the Mena region.

Harib, the creator of popular Emirati cartoon series Freej and chairman of Lammtara Art Productions, joined forces with Malhotra after Diff announced in April that it would restructure into a biennial event. Malhotra had been with the festival since its inception 14 years ago.

Now, she and Harib hope to continue championing Arab cinema and strengthening the global reach of creative projects they represent. They will help to secure financing, build network relationships and provide publicity services.

“There is currently a gap in the market both in the UAE and the wider Arab world which NearEast Entertainment can fulfil with excellent personal and professional connections within Hollywood, the Indian and the Arab film industries,” said Malhotra in a statement.

Harib said the industry is growing at ‘an incredible pace’.

“The future is bright for the media and entertainment industry in the Arab world and I believe NearEast Entertainment can be right at the centre where that all fuses together,” he added.

They are joined by former associates and media specialists Jane Williams, Mahsa Motamedi, Zeina Sfeir, Ben Amy and Antoine Khalife.