Arabic Soap Opera in the Works


twofour54 Abu Dhabi, MBC Studios and Image Nation Abu Dhabi have teamed up to produce what they are hailing as the world’s first Arabic-language soap opera, Inheritance.

Inheritance was created for MBC Studios by British writer and showrunner Tony Jordan, who worked on BBC One’s long-running soap EastEnders. Principal photography is slated to kick off in December, and the first episode is expected to air in Q1 2020.

Under the partnership, a dedicated studio will be built for the show in Abu Dhabi, serving as the main location for filming. twofour54 will invest directly in the production, and MBC is set to benefit from the Abu Dhabi Film Commission’s 30-percent rebate on production spend in the Emirate. Both outfits will work closely with Image Nation Abu Dhabi on talent and script development for the project.

The soap opera is slated to shoot for more than 250 days of the year, and the production team estimates the show will generate over 200 jobs in the first year alone.

H.E. Maryam Eid AlMheiri, vice chair of twofour54, said: “Partnering with MBC Studios and Image Nation to produce the world’s first Arab soap opera is truly a landmark moment in Arab entertainment industry and cultural history.

“Over recent years, twofour54 has worked tirelessly to enhance the film and TV industry and attract talented filmmakers, writers, and actors to consider Abu Dhabi as a filming location. It’s imperative that these talents are supported by world-class infrastructure, regulations, and services. This is what we have aimed to do at twofour54, and our work with some of the biggest global content producers—from Disney to Netflix—is testament to our thriving ecosystem.

“The creation of Inheritance is an indication of our region’s rapidly growing media and entertainment industry and will serve as a catalyst to inspire the next generation of storytellers to create more original Arabic content.”

Peter Smith, managing director of MBC Studios, said: “twofour54 has overseen numerous productions from all parts of the world, offering producers a unique support system and production infrastructure while also excelling in Arabic-language content. We are thrilled to have agreed to a long-term production deal—the first of its kind in the Arab world—with Her Excellency Maryam AlMheiri and her team.

“We appreciate Image Nation’s support and resources to nurture the region’s talent. These soaps are very labor-intensive and collectively we view this agreement as a long-term opportunity to rapidly develop aspiring production professional through extensive training of local cast, crew and writers. When it comes to producing key long-running shows in Abu Dhabi, this is only the beginning.

Ben Ross, chief content officer of Image Nation Abu Dhabi, said: “This major production demonstrates the scale and ambition that Abu Dhabi’s entertainment industry has achieved. Even more importantly, a show of this scale will fuel the market’s ongoing growth by providing consistent and significant openings for talent—both in front of and behind the camera. We are honored to be working with our longstanding partners at MBC Studios and twofour54 to bring this landmark project to life.

Jordan added, “One of my long-held ambitions has been to create and help develop major drama projects outside the U.K., this project is truly ground-breaking and I think we’ve created something really special.”