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Mipcom: Arab Telemedia Ramps Up Production With First Arab Sci-Fi Series (EXCLUSIVE)

Emmy Award-winning production company Arab Telemedia Group is ramping up production with the Arab world’s first  Sci-Fi series, titled “Medinah,” and a slate of historical skeins on timely topics including “The Assassins,” about Hassan-i Sabbah, the charismatic 11th century leader whose cult is considered the forerunner of Al Qaeda and ISIS.

“It’s connected to radicalism, be it ISIS or Al Queida,” Talal Awamleh, the group’s CEO, said about “The Assassins.” “It’s about the roots of extremism that developed in the Arab world in those days,” he added.

As for “Medinah,” the groundbreaking sci-fi series will be partly set in a futuristic Qatar and depict different nationalities living in Doha. “It’s very unique in the sense that that it’s half in English and half in Arabic,” Awamleh noted. Science Fiction as genre is not rooted in Arab culture but is considered very congenial. Narrative premise of the twenty episode “Medinah” is an accident caused by a failed experiment which prompts teleportation of twelve random people into a different dimension.

Qatari director Ahmed Al Baker – known for zombie movie “Lockdown: Red Moon Escape” and “The Package Vol. 1,” touted as the first 3D pic from the Middle East – will start shooting next month in Doha.

The new Arab Telemedia skeins being made for viewing during Ramadan are: “The Assassins” – to be shot mostly in Jordan; “Shajarat Al Durr,” about the eponymous odalisque who ruled Egypt after her husband, the king, died; “The Promise,” which narrates the story of a British Orientalist who, after trying to trick a Sheikh, lives with a bedouin clan as one of their own; “Malik Bin Al Rayb,” about the life of a warrior poet from the Bani Tamim Ishmaelite tribe; and “Rakan Bin Hethlain,” a bio series about the militant knight and famous poet.

These skeins, which are all in Arabic, will be shot in 4K. Arab Telemedia is the region’s first production company with a 4K workflow, thanks in part to a recent agreement with Avid to adopt their Avid MediaCentral Platform.

“Now that we’ve increased our production values we also want to try and sell these shows outside our region,” said Awamleh. “We’d like to enter the U.S. market and maybe Europe, not necessarily selling the original, but perhaps the format,” he added.

Arab Telemedia, which has produced more than 5,000 hours of Arabic content over more than three decades, already exports outside the Middle East to Arabic channels around the world, especially in the Far East.

Their soap “The Invasion” (“Al-Igtiyah”), a love story between an Israeli man and a Palestinian woman set during Israel’s 2002 West Bank incursion, won the Emmy in the best international telenovela category in 2008 and has been dubbed for the Turkish market.


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