The global platform has been steadily making inroads into the Middle East and North Africa since 2015, in the face of fierce competition from local players such as MBC’s Shahid VIP and Starzplay.
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The new productions, mainly due to launch in 2023, include Saudi Arabian feature Alkhallat+, a satirical suspense film based on the hit online show Alkhallat, which was first released in 2017 and received more than 1.5 billion views across YouTube and social media.
“The film will feature four exciting comeback stories of social deception and trickery in four unlikely places, bringing the best of this beloved Saudi show to life,” said Netflix.
Fahad Alammari directs an ensemble cast featuring stand-up comedian Fahad Albutairi, actors Suhaib Godus and Ismail Alhassan, best known for their performances in The Sun of Gnosis; and influencer and actor Ziyad Alamri.
Netflix also announced a second Telfaz11 feature, The Matchmaker by director Abdulmohsen Aldhabaan, whose debut film Last Visit (2019) played at Karlovy Vary and Marrakech.
Billed as a psychological thriller film with a supernatural slant, the film is set in against the backdrop of the rocky desert landscape of the world heritage site of AlUla. The cast features Hussam Alharthy, Reem AlHabib, Nour Alkhadra.
The slate also featured the eight-episode Arabic docu-soap Dubai Bling, which launches globally on October 27.
The show follows the lives of 10 self-made wealthy individuals in Dubai including Australian radio presenter Kris Fade and his wife Brianna Ramirez, Saudi TV host and actress Lojain Omran as well as Emirati DJ Marwan Al Awady and his wife Danya Mohammed.
Netflix also unveiled one of its first Kuwaiti productions The Exchange. Set in Kuwait in 1988, the drama revolves around two women making their way in the boys club of the Kuwait Stock Exchange, on the eve of Saddam Hussein’s invasion of the country.
The drama was conceived and written by celebrity TV presenter, actress and activist Nadia Ahmad, with Anne and Adam Sobel, and is directed by Egyptian director Karim Elshenawy and Kuwaiti filmmaker Jasem AlMuhanna.
The cast includes popular local actors Rawan Mahdi, Mona Hussain, Hussain al-Mahdi, Mohamed Mansour, Faisal al-Amiri, Jasem alNabhan, Maryam Salih, Asmahan Tawfiq and Abdullah Bahman.
The slate also features the second season of animated Masameer County, a youth-focused show chronicling the rapidly changing face of Saudi Arabia and tackling formerly taboo subjects with humor.
It is the first production to come out of a five-year exclusive deal between Saudi animation studio Myrkott and Netflix.
These new shows follow in the wake of Saudi director Hana Al Omair’s psychological thriller Whispers, Jordanian high-school drama Al Rawabi School for Girls, and Finding Ola, starring Tunisian-Egyptian star Hend Sabry as a newly divorced single mother as she embarks on a voyage of personal discovery.
Non-fiction hits in the region have included the Arabic unscripted reality show The Fastest, and the archaeological documentary, Secrets Of The Saqqara Tomb which was viewed by 22 million households in its first week of launch
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