Hit Arabic TV show “Al Hayba,” about a family of arms smugglers working the border between Syria and Lebanon, is set for a Turkish adaptation in a milestone deal inked between prominent Lebanese film and TV production company Cedars Art Production and Turkish TV powerhouse Ay Yapim (“Forbidden Love”).
The “Al Hayba” agreement between Cedars Art and Ay Yapim marks the first international adaptation of an Arabic longform format in recent times and also the first time an Arabic show gets a redo in Turkey, which is among the top exporters of TV dramas around the world.
“We are proud to be the first in the world to offer a regional Arabic [longform narrative] format for international licensing,” Cedars Art president Sadek Sabbah told Variety, calling the deal “a very big opportunity for our company and also for other Arabic producers, because it can take Arabic production to the next level.”
Sabbah said that because of the significance of the “Al Hayba” deal as a stepping stone in the international arena for Arabic TV, Cedars Art will be supervising all stages of production and shooting of the Turkish adaptation of the show which Ay Yapim will be selling internationally.
Now in its 5th season, “Al Hayba” is set in set in the fictional border village of Hayba, home to two feuding Arab clans, the Sheikh Al Jabal clan that that controls all the arms smuggling routes between Lebanon and Syria, and the equally fierce and lawless Saeed clan.
The show, commissioned by and first aired on leading Middle East broadcaster MBC, has been licensed for transmission either dubbed or with subtitles to 30 countries and to Netflix which plays the first season on its platform in several territories. Season 5 is now airing exclusively on MBC and its Shahid VIP premium platform.
Sabbah said the series’ appeal stems from a feudal culture of families that live on borders that has common emotional resonance all across the Middle East.
He also announced that Cedars Art is currently preparing a feature film spin-off of “Al Hayba.”
Though the “Al Hayba” movie had previously been in the works, the Ay Yapim series adaptation deal “boosts the production value of the film,” he said, which Cedars Art is looking to start shooting in Lebanon and in Turkey in January 2022, said Sabbah.
Sabbah, who while strengthening the company’s TV side remains substantially involved in film production, will be feted with a lifetime achievement award during the opening ceremony of Tunisia’s Carthage Film Festival on Saturday.
Besides “Al Hayba,” Cedars Art has also been breaking new ground with Arab post-apocalyptic sci-fi TV drama “Hell’s Gate” which takes place in Beirut 2052, following a series of conflicts and deadly pandemics when governments no longer control countries, directed by Lebanon’s Amin Dora, who won an Intl. Emmy for his interactive web series “Shankaboot.”
Sabbah said they have now finished shooting the second season of “Hell’s Gate,” which is produced by MBC for Shahid VIP, and are preparing to shoot seasons three and four.
“It has a niche audience at the moment,” he noted, “but the second season will pick up and it will keep growing once we reach seasons three and four, as I hope we will,” he added, pointing out that with “Hell’s Gate” we have “paved the way for a new type of [Arabic] series, which is very important.”
Cedars Art, a longtime leading Arab film and TV outfit which has been ramping up its scripted content output for OTT play, has offices in Beirut, Cairo, Casablanca and Dubai, and is set to soon open an outpost in Riyadh.