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Lebanese fashion designer Elie Saab has partnered with top Arab free-to-air satcaster MBC Group to produce “Project Runway Middle East” which will air across more than twenty Arabic territories later this year.

Saab, long known as the leading haute couturier in the Middle East and more recently as chief of a global fashion empire, will preside the reality show’s jury providing his expertise to aspiring designers from the region where fashion styles of the Western world have been known to clash with local mores. This aspect will be interesting to watch.

In 2002 Saab became the first designer from the Middle East to dress an Oscar winner, Halle Berry. Other Hollywood stars he has dressed include Angelina Jolie, Beyonce, Gwyneth Paltrow, Charlize Theron, and Catherine Zeta-Jones.

“My role in the program is an integral part of my constant desire to develop the fashion industry in the Arab world,” Saab said in a statement.

Joining him as a judge on the panel will be well-known Tunisian-Italian fashionista, actress and TV host Afef Jnifen (pictured at the recent Elie Saab show during Paris fashion week). The third judge will be a surprise celebrity guest-star/expert for each episode.

Saudi designer Faris Al Shehri, creator of the Maison BO-M label, will mentor the participants as they tackle weekly fashion challenges. The host will be Lebanese-Australian model Jessica Kahawaty.

This will be the second Arabic version of the show. The first had a two season run on Beirut-based Future Television in 2006-2007.

Shooting on the first episodes of “Project Runway Middle East” has started at MBC studios in Beirut. The grand finale will be televised live from the Dubai Design District, a creative hub for innovative Arab and international  fashion brands which is the show’s main sponsor.

The Arabic adaptation of the hit global fashion TV show licensed by FremantleMedia will start airing in the fourth quarter of 2016 on MBC’s MBC4 channel, which is geared towards a female and youth audience, and on Cairo-based MBC MASR which airs across Egypt.

MBC, which was the Arab world’s first private free-to-air satellite channel when it launched in 1991, remains a regular ratings winner today thanks in part to Arabic adaptations of other international reality and talent show formats including “X Factor,” “The Idol,” and “Got Talent.”