ROME – Producer Paul Baboudjian’s Dubai-based Tharwa Productions is in development on timely drama “Grace Period,” about a Syrian who has escaped war and fled to Dubai, which is to be directed by Bahraini first-time director Saleh Nass.

Project is at Rome’s New Cinema Network co-prod platform for works in early stages.

Baboudjian recently set up Tharwa in Dubai to produce relevant pics by Arab and Emirati helmers. He says “Grace Period” is a rarity because it intends to depict the largely unexplored immigrant underworld in the region.

“Most of the countries in the Gulf have an expatriate community that is more numerous than the local population,” he noted. “And most of these are Asian and Arab workers who lead a difficult but colourful life, attending to various tasks that no one else wants to do.”

In “Grace Period” a young Syrian escapes war at home hoping to find solace in the safety and sparkle of Dubai. Instead he gets stuck working in a supermarket warehouse, and after his work permit expires has a one month grace period before he will be booted back home where he is likely to be forced to return into the military.

“It’s important for me to try and highlight a human story away from politics and war, and at the same time set it in the Gulf,” said Saleh Ness, whose shorts have travelled widely on the fest circuit, including Slamdance and Montreal.

Baboudjian, a founder of Lebanese non-profit Screen Beirut, is among creative producers of Emirati director Ali F. Mostafa’s groundbreaking pan-Arab road movie “From A to B,” which opened the Abu Dhabi Film Festival last year.