RIYADH: MBC Studios has started production of Saudi fantasy series “Rise of the Witches” with an all-local cast and crew.
The high-end production division of the MBC Group stated that it is producing the show based on a novel by Saudi author Osamah Al-Muslim.
“We are pleased that Saudi actors and artists are involved in this project,” Al-Muslim told Arab News.
“The project will mark a qualitative leap for Saudi drama, with budgets never before seen, and the subject matter will open up new avenues for drama, particularly fantasy, which has started to take off and dominate the scene.”
The location of the filming is NEOM, the burgeoning smart city in the northeast of the country, which is central to Saudi Arabia’s strategy to establish itself as a major center for film and television production.
According to MBC Studios, the city has built three specially designed sets for the show, which boasts the highest special effects budget ever for a Saudi production.
The series is set in ancient Arabia, and tells the story of an epic war between two rival witch covens.
It is a tale about growing up in a magical, male-dominated society where women are forbidden from using magic in any way. Witches study their art in secrecy, and start their own organizations to gain power and protect themselves.
The cast is led by Ida Alkusay and Sumaya Rida, portraying the two lead witches.
“It’s a different character than what I (usually would) play, which makes it very exciting. MBC studios did a tremendous job of making this production almost flawless in terms of comfort for the cast and crew. I am looking forward to this show and (am) eagerly waiting for it,” Alkusay told Arab News.
Award-winning entertainment and drama directors Craig Pickles and Declan O’Dwyer handle directing duties, and Zeinab Abu Alsamh of MBC Group serves as executive producer.
Film producer Dominic Barlow oversees production.
MBC Studios has brought in emerging local talent to work on the series as part of its strategy to build local film and TV development and production capacity.
The 10-part series will make its debut on Shahid, the MBC Group’s pan-Arab streaming service, later this year.