Saudi Arabia set to become top regional TV production hub

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Johannes Larcher. (Supplied)
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Ahd El Dam (The Testament of Blood), starring Bassel Khayat. (Supplied)
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Al Ameed (The Dean), starring Taim Hasan and Caress Bashar. (Supplied)
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Al Leiba (The Game), starring Hesham Maged and Shiko. (Supplied)
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Boxing Girls 2, starring Mila Al-Zahrani, Al-Anoud Saoud, Noura Al-Asr, Mohamad Meshaal, Dana Al-Salem, Abeer Sandar, Fatima Al-Husni, Shajart Durr. (Supplied)
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Dahaya Halal (Halal Victims), starring Sanaa Bakr Youness, Mila Al-Zahrani, Al-Anoud Saoud, Nisrine Al-Rady and Khaled Sakr. (Supplied)
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El Diva, starring Cyrine Abdel Nour, Yacob Alfarhan and Bosi. (Supplied)
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Every Week Has A Friday (EWHAF), starring Menna Shalaby, Asser Yassine and Sawsan Badr. (Supplied)
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Huna Al Ard (This is Earth), starring Salam Katanan, Hisham Affifi, Maha Jaafar, Abdul-Rahman Al-Shaikhi, Reem Nadar, Maya Akra and Saeed Duzdar. (Supplied)
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Khrays, starring Osama Saleh, Saleh Alajmi, Rakan Zahid, Omar Saleh and Abdulrahman Alremy. (Supplied)
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Mamlakit Iblis (Kingdom of the Devil), starring Ghada Adel, Rania Youssef, Ahmed Dawood, Eman Alassi, Karim Kassem, Salwa Khattab, Sabri Fawaz, Mahmoud Laithy and Asmaa Jalal. (Supplied)
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Nemra Etnein (No.2), starring Mona Zaki, Nelly Karim, Amr Youssef, Sherine Reda, Ahmed Malek, Amina Khalil, Saba Mubarak, Adel Karam, Iyad Nassar and Sara Tayba. (Supplied)
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Rahala, starring Ingi Abousaoud, Ali Al-Sayed, Naeema Almaqbali, Marwan Younes, Turki Al-Mohsen and Ayham Shalhoub. (Supplied)
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The Red Prince, starring Tayem Hassan. (Supplied)
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Umm El Qalayid, starring Meshaal Al-Mutairi, Mohamad Khaled Al-Qass, Deryaan Al-Dreyaan, Zara Al-Bloushi and Saeed Saleh. (Supplied)
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Updated 18 February 2020

Saudi Arabia set to become top regional TV production hub

  • “Riyadh’s new creative zone for art, media and entertainment will be a good breeding ground”

DUBAI: Saudi Arabia has the potential to become one of the Middle East’s leading TV production hubs, according to MBC executive Johannes Larcher.

It comes as the region’s biggest broadcaster plans to establish its headquarters in Riyadh’s new creative zone for art, media and entertainment.

“We want Saudi Arabia to emerge as one of the centers of great content production in the region besides Egypt and Lebanon,” said Larcher, who oversees MBC’s Shahid video-on-demand (VOD) platform. “We see ourselves doing more and more there. There is significant investment under the Vision 2030 plan and it goes into the entertainment industry — everything from developing acting schools and sound stages to encouraging physical production in Saudi. It’s a big theme for the Saudi government and we are very supportive of that.”

The Kingdom is the location for the shooting of “Dahaya Halal” (Halal victims), one of MBC’s big new productions for 2020.

Earlier this month MBC Group CEO Marc Antoine d’Halluin revealed plans to become an anchor tenant in the new media zone in the Saudi capital. “The diversity of our team and the richness of our human capital will offer new skillsets to young Saudis joining the media industry, coupled with high professional standards and global best practices,” he told MBC staff in a memo.

“I’m confident that Riyadh’s new creative zone for art, media and entertainment will be a good breeding ground for sector growth, expansion and innovation. In fact, it will attract and retain the best and most innovative players, and MBC Group’s new Saudi HQ will be at the heart of it.”


‘Paranormal’: Netflix’s first Egyptian series whips up social media storm

Updated 12 August 2020

‘Paranormal’: Netflix’s first Egyptian series whips up social media storm

  • The books featured Dr. Rifaat Ismail, a professor of hematology whose life is taken over by supernatural forces

CAIRO: Netflix’s first Egyptian series was trending on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram in Egypt as it marked the “anniversary” of the death of its main character, ahead of its release.

“Paranormal,” a horror series which will be available in the fall of 2020, is based on a hugely popular series of books by the writer Ahmed Khaled Towfik. The books featured Dr. Rifaat Ismail, a professor of hematology whose life is taken over by supernatural forces. Towfik turned out new books in the series twice a year from 1993 until 2004, but he killed off his doctor on Aug. 8. The announcement of his death provoked a strong response, with some fans holding private funerals and some strongly attacked the writer.

The Netflix series has also provoked a strong response over the choice of Ahmed Amin in the lead role. Social media users noted the great similarity between Amin and Ismail but were still concerned over Amin’s ability to do the widely loved character justice, since he is mainly known as a comedy actor.

“August 8 ... the anniversary of the passing of Dr. Rifaat Ismail ... the legend of the godfather, that was never just mere fiction ... it made Ismail a true friend of a whole generation ... 81 stories … which we spent our entire pocket money on ... we hid in them at bedtime, so we could hear from Dr. Rifaat,” Amin wrote on Instagram alongside a picture of himself in character.

“Paranormal,” directed by Salama and Majid Al-Ansari, was filmed in Egypt, and written by Dina Maher, Omar Khaled and the Egyptian poet Mahmoud Ezzat, whose latest film “Souad” was nominated for the Cannes Film Festival.

The novels sold more than 15 million copies and have millions of fans across the Arab world. Towfik, who died unexpectedly at the age of 56 a year ago, once said: “I want it written on my grave: ‘He made young adults read’.”

And so it happened: many fans attached notes bearing this phrase to his grave after his death.