Dubai-based MBC Group’s Shahid VIP streaming service has forged a partnership with Arabic animation studio Barajoun Entertainment to co-produce five local-language animation features over the next three years.

These Arabic animation pics will stream exclusively on Shahid VIP as Shahid originals.

Details on the animation projects in the pipeline are being kept under wraps, but the companies revealed that their first collaboration is based on a science-fiction novel and will feature the voice of an unspecified A-list Arab actor. This initial title in the slate is expected to launch on Shahid VIP in July. 

Dubai-based Barajoun Entertainment is headed by banker-turned-producer Ayman Jamal, who set up the company in 2011 as the MENA region’s first bona-fide animation studio. Jamal shepherded the 2015 “Bilal” (pictured) film, inspired by the real-life story of Bilal Ibn Rabah, an African slave who became one of the early followers of the Prophet Muhammad. “Bilal” marks the first CG-animated feature to come out of the region.

The collaboration between MBC and Barajoun Entertainment is intended to foster original Arabic animations featuring diverse stories that appeal to both local and international audiences, the companies said in a joint statement. It’s also part of their respective missions to mentor and support pioneering Arabic animators by offering them a broad platform with Shahid VIP.

“It is important for us to tell stories that reflect the reality of the region, carry its values, reflect its history and even foresee its future,” said Tareq Al-Ibrahim, director of MBC1, MBC Drama and Shahid VIP Content, in a statement. He added that the partnership with Barajoun “will contribute towards strengthening the animation industry in the GCC and the entire MENA region, elevating the industry to the global standard.”

Ayman Jamal called the partnership “an important move that encourages the development of the overall animation industry in the region” noting that it will foster “the development of more Saudi and Arab talent working in the fields of writing; graphic design; modeling and animation, as well as performance and voice acting.”

Jamal also said that the animation collaboration with MBC extends to developing related products such as games or merchandise.