Netflix committed to Arab world production, to test Arabic dubbing

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Netflix's Todd Yellin said the Arab world would inspire more 'originals', which globally have included 'Stranger Things' and 'La Casa de Papel.'
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Netflix's 'Stranger Things'
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Netflix's 'La Casa de Papel'
Updated 23 April 2018
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Netflix committed to Arab world production, to test Arabic dubbing

  • Internet-streaming giant says it is looking to boost production in the Middle East
  • Netflix said it is filming its first Arabic series 'Jinn' later this year

ROME: “Stranger Things” certainly happened in the US — but future hit Netflix series could well emerge from the Arab world.
The Internet-TV giant, which also made “House of Cards” and “Orange Is the New Black,” says it is looking to boost production in the region following the announcement of its first Arabic “originals” production earlier this year.
The US-based Netflix this month reported better-than-expected growth to 125 million subscribers — but lags regional rivals in the Middle East and North Africa, where its production activity has been extremely limited.
But that will change over the next few years as Netflix looks to “ramp up” regional production of series, a senior executive told Arab News.
Netflix said in February that it is filming “Jinn,” its first original Arabic series, later this year. Todd Yellin, vice president of product at Netflix, said more shows are set to follow.
“It won’t take long — over the next couple of years expect a couple more to come in and it to ramp up,” he said. “We’ll invest and we’ll try some Arabic originals.”
The executive, speaking at a Netflix event in Rome, said that producing more shows in the region could help build cultural bridges between the Arab region and rest of the world.


“I don’t want us to be deprived of any great storytellers and I know there’s going to be some in Arabic countries — we know there are, and we want to access them,” Yellin said.
“It’s healthy psychologically … when people are exposed to people of other nations and what they do, then you gain understanding, and we start eroding away all the ignorance. So that’s the goal.”
The supernatural teenage drama “Jinn” is to film in Jordan, with the six-episode series expected to hit the screens in 2019.
Reed Hastings, Netflix CEO, said Jordan has “very developed infrastructure” for producing series but that there were opportunities elsewhere in the region.
“Producing them in Jordan, or Egypt or Saudi Arabia all are good options … There are great places to produce all over the world; it depends on the story that you are trying to tell,” he said.
Hastings pointed to the popularity of YouTube in the Middle East — with Saudi Arabia having one of the highest per-capita usages of the video platform — as evidence of the opportunity for Internet-TV players.
“YouTube is huge throughout the region, so we definitely see a big opportunity to do great shows. But our current shows are very popular in the Middle East — it’s not Middle East only programming,” Hastings told Arab News.


THE LIST
New series announced by Netflix:
- La Casa de Papel Part 3
The Spanish heist sensation returns.
- First Dutch original series
This show will tell the story of a group of students who have it all: Youth, wealth, power … and a portal to a demonic world from the Dutch Golden Age.
- Mortel
Fifth original series from France tells the story of teenagers bound together by a supernatural force.
- The Wave
This series, from Germany, is based on the hit movie of the same name and is inspired by real events.
- Luna Nera
An original genre series about women suspected of witchcraft in 17th century Italy.
- The English Game
A six-part drama about the invention of football written by “Downton Abbey” creator Julian Fellowes.
- Turn Up Charlie
An eight-part comedy series from the UK starring Idris Elba.



Netflix also plans to test dubbing of its shows in Arabic, as currently only a few kids’ shows are available with a voiceover in that language.
“We don’t dub yet into Arabic … We’ll test it. (There are) no immediate plans but I can see us doing that eventually, to test it,” Yellin said.
“Last year we localized into Romanian, into Greek. We’ve been in Arabic (with subtitles) since the beginning of 2016. You’ll see more languages on Netflix by next year and the year after. We want more people to access the service.”
Netflix last week revealed that it had added 7.4 million subscribers in the first quarter of the year, a 50 percent increase on the same quarter last year, outpacing analyst expectations.
Yet the US service lags some regional rivals in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, according to data from IHS Markit.
The Starz Play and Shahid Plus services each have more than a quarter of Internet-TV subscribers in the region, while Netflix’s share is just 16.5 percent.
But Netflix is expected to see a “significant” increase in its MENA market share, according to Constantinos Papavassilopoulos, principal research analyst at IHS Markit.
This increase will be facilitated by partnerships with telcos and pay-TV operators, Papavassilopoulos said, citing a deal with the Dubai-based OSN to make Netflix available on set-top boxes.
“These kinds of partnerships are very important in emerging markets like MENA,” Papavassilopoulos said.
He added that localization — in content, currency support and cooperation with local creators — is also very important for regions like MENA.
“All these are also factors that will facilitate Netflix’s efforts to grow its customer base in the MENA region,” he said.
Netflix last week said it is nearly doubling its film production in Europe, the Middle East and Africa — with over 100 projects originating in the region in 2018.
It unveiled several new European projects including “The English Game” from the UK, a six-part drama about the invention of football written by “Downton Abbey” creator Julian Fellowes.
(Additional reporting by Rebecca Spong)


With Mo Salah’s World Cup dream in doubt, the Arab World erupts in anger

Updated 27 May 2018
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With Mo Salah’s World Cup dream in doubt, the Arab World erupts in anger

  • As Egypt’s Mohammad Salah contemplates watching the World Cup from the sidelines, the social media world has erupted with outrage and support for the footballing superstar
  • Salah suffered the agonizing injury during the Champions League final on Saturday, when Real Madrid defender Sergio Ramos took down the Liverpool attacker in the 31st minute of the match
DUBAI: As Egypt’s Mohammad Salah contemplates watching the World Cup from the sidelines, the social media world has erupted with outrage and support for the footballing superstar who suffered a dislocated shoulder in a tackle that left armchair pundits around the world asking why the referee did not call a foul.

Salah suffered the agonizing injury during the Champions League final on Saturday, when Real Madrid defender Sergio Ramos took down the Liverpool attacker in the 31st minute of the match.

Despite his best efforts to play on, Salah accepted defeat and walked off the pitch, clearly in a lot of pain, crying – while Ramos watched on — Liverpool went on to lose the cup final in a humiliating 3-1 defeat.

Now experts are questioning whether Salah will be able to play in the World Cup, which is just weeks away – sparking tsunami of reaction on social media as fans expressed their anger at Spaniard, Ramos, for what many say was excessive aggression and the referee for not calling a foul.

“Sergio Ramos, deliberately looks to hurt Mo Salah shoulder, you don’t put somebody into a arm lock like that by accident, disgusting,” GeorgeBakhos1 tweeted.







"Curse the ancestry that brought you to life, Ramos you buffalo," Karl Sharro tweeted.


One user even wrote a letter addressed to Ramos on how he “injured not Mo Salah but the hearts of football fans around the world.”



"My blood is burning, Ramos you son of a dog," tweeted IbrahimFayek.


"Your tears are precious to us, God willing it isn't a serious injury and you will raise the trophy. Ramos you son of a dog, I hope you get paralyzed," an angry user tweeted.





Salah’s injury even enlightened Muslims around the world, pushing them to head to the mosque and pray for the Egyptian.


Pictures of the incident went viral, with memes of Ramos flooding twitter and Instagram homepages.








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