MENA Streaming Platform StarzPlay Pacts With Image Nation On First Original Series ‘Urban Legends’

Image Nation / Starzplay

EXCLUSIVE: StarzPlay, a leading SVOD service in the MENA region, has inked a deal with Image Nation Abu Dhabi for the latter to produce the platform’s first original, Urban Legends.

The Arabic-language anthology series will explore regional tales and fables from the Middle East, with each episode focusing on a new story. Production will commence in 2020 with a view to releasing on the platform by the end of that year.

It will be produced by Yasir Al-Yasiri, the Iraqi director whose credits include 2018 comedy On Borrowed Time, under his production company Starship Entertainment, which he runs with Mansoor Al Feeli. Al-Yasiri is also attached to direct one of the episodes, with further regional directors to be announced.

The deal continues Image Nation’s push into episodic content, with the company having produced documentary series History Of The Emirates, which launched recently on local and international channels to coincide with the UAE’s 48th Annual National Day, and is now airing in 50 countries on National Geographic.

StarzPlay is available in 20 countries across the Middle East, North Africa and Pakistan and currently houses more than 10,000 hours of content including films and series.

Maaz Sheikh, Co-founder and CEO of StarzPlay, called the deal “a real milestone” in the service’s development and hinted that the company’s push into originals could at some point go beyond Arabic language.

“As we continue to focus on the customer and delivering the highest value in terms of quality content and accessibility, we are pleased to have reached an agreement with one the region’s leading production houses that has gained international acclaim for its quality films, series and documentaries,” he added.

Michael Garin, CEO at Image Nation Abu Dhabi, said, “This region is home to a huge audience of content consumers who are eager to watch locally-made content that represents and resonates with them. As such, we are delighted to enter into this partnership with StarzPlay as it begins producing original content for the MENA region and we continue to build a self-sustainable and creative media industry in the Middle East.”

Khaled Benchouche, SVP of Programming and Acquisitions at StarzPlay, added, “We hope the content will prove appealing and engaging to our subscriber base, with a gripping anthology of urban legends from across the Middle East region, at times entering into the ever-popular psychological thriller category. The six stand-alone stories will capture the essence of Middle East mythology, steeped in regional culture with fantastical and elaborate imagery bringing these ancient stories into the future for a modern audience.”

Ben Ross, Chief Content Officer at Image Nation Abu Dhabi, added, “Image Nation Abu Dhabi prides itself on creating international-standard entertainment while maintaining the local and regional perspectives that we know audiences are eager to see. As a platform with a MENA focus, StarzPlay is the perfect partner for this project and we are excited to help launch this milestone series for audience in this region and beyond.”

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