DUBAI: MBC Group has signed a five-year agreement with Turkish production houses, Medyapim and Ay Yapim.
The partnership, which was unveiled at the 38th International Co-Production & Entertainment Content Market in Cannes, will see the two production houses sharing Turkish content exclusively with MBC Group, as well as producing original Arabic content for the MENA market.
“It’s no secret that Turkish content is extremely popular with MENA audiences — it’s a genre that has been rising in popularity in this region since the early Noughties,” said Sam Barnett, CEO of MBC Group.
The partnership will see the companies focus on knowledge-sharing to produce programs that will be shot in Saudi Arabia among other countries in the MENA region, he said.
Upcoming titles produced by Medyapim and Ay Yapim will appear exclusively as “first look” titles in the MENA region or as part of a volume deal agreement via MBC’s TV channels, as well as on its streaming platform Shahid.
These titles, which have not been announced yet, will be dubbed in Arabic and will air in the MENA region on the same date as Turkey.
MBC Group will also work with Medyapim and Ay Yapim to co-develop and commission Arabic-language productions, scheduled to begin filming in Saudi Arabia and surrounding territories in the region in the coming years.
The titles will be revealed as and when production begins.
The move signals an end to an unofficial boycott imposed on Turkey by Saudi Arabia as the two countries work to improve ties.
Saudi Arabia and Turkey were at loggerheads during the 2011 Arab Spring over Ankara’s support for political Islamist groups deemed a threat to the region’s system of rule.
Tensions escalated sharply after the October 2018 murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi in Istanbul’s Saudi consulate, and Saudi companies and businesses imposed an unofficial boycott on Turkish goods.
However, relations started to warm this year following huge diplomatic efforts by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, also extended to Saudi Arabia’s regional allies, as Turkey’s economy struggles with a slumping lira and soaring inflation that could threaten Erdogan’s chances in elections planned by June 2023.
After Erdogan visited the Kingdom earlier this year, Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman went to Ankara in June, and during that trip Turkish officials said that the two countries had lifted restrictions on trade, flights and the screening of TV series, with mutual negative media coverage also halted.