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Dubai Startup Company Transforming VR Filmmaking in Middle East

Virtual reality (VR) technology innovations are unlocking an exciting array of opportunities across different industries including medicine and filmmaking, by amalgamating the physical and digital spaces to generate experiences similar to real life.

Giga Works, the Middle East’s first startup for VR filmmaking was launched in 2013 by Karim Saad. It currently develops immersive entertainment and VR marketing campaigns for leading brands. Karim Saad was fascinated by virtual reality from a very young age. Following his graduation with a filmmaking degree from Beirut’s Saint Joseph University, he set out to explore his creativity and talent. Saad has expressed that filmmaking was quite simplistic when he was in college. He also remarked seeing a massive change in this domain at the time of his graduation.

Saad’s first encounter with virtual reality technology came as recent as 2012, during his visit to a German trade fair. He recollected the memory of putting on a VR headset, which turned out to be the beta edition of the now-popular Oculus. According to Saad, that first experience with VR left him flabbergasted despite it being just a prototype and invoked a drive in him to introduce the technology in the United Arab Emirates. He was able to achieve that goal just a year later.

Giga Works, the first VR filmmaking startup company in the Middle East region was started by Saad in 2013. The Rift headset by Oculus was also launched at the same time, inspiring him to start technological experiments. Saad recalled that at one time he had built a passion for 360-degree and virtual reality videos. He used to buy immersive technology equipment frequently and document his experiences with them, to share those with his family, friends, and acquaintances. Saad explained that he had built a surplus collection of tools even before launching his own VR company.

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Saad bagged his first hefty project in 2015, two years after the launch of his company. It was a marketing push for a UAE-imported consumable product. The campaign was focused on exhibiting the difference between old and new Dubai. Being the first company to use the Oculus Rift headset in the Middle East, Saad was able to take viewers on a desert journey aboard a Land Rover, also one of the very first cars to make its way into the UAE. The journey is a transformative experience as viewers are also led to the modern version of Dubai, complete with sights of Sky Dive Dubai and the Marina Skyline. This campaign marked a major milestone for the UAE-based company.

He has faced issues due to the traditional marketing sphere of the UAE and people’s hesitation to try new things. He believes that VR marketing is effective despite being costly, and makes efforts for teaching VR technology possibilities to the audience. According to his estimates, much of VR’s potential is still unexplored, and there may be future applications of the technology in medicine, recruitment, education, and sports.

Saad, who spoke at the TED Talk a year back had also remarked on the possibility of VR replacing traditional school education. The filmmaker is putting in his efforts for the development of an Antarctic VR experience for global warming awareness.

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