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Image Nation Abu Dhabi, MAF and MBC Studios ink landmark deal

From left: Khaled El Chidiac; Michael Garin and Peter Smith at the press conference during the Cannes International Film Festival to announce the partnership on May 15, 2019 in Cannes, France. (Photo by Eamonn M. McCormack/Getty Images for Image Nation).

Image Nation Abu Dhabi, Majid Al Futtaim and MBC Studios have entered into a ground-breaking alliance to launch a major production partnership for film and TV projects across the Middle East. The partnership will greenlight several projects annually, representing a significant boost to the region’s growing film, TV and entertainment industry. The announcement was made at Cannes.

In collaboration with the three organisations, which are among the region’s most significant entities in the content and entertainment sectors, the partnership will support projects from inception to distribution.

The partnership actively seeks projects from across the Middle East, with a focus on Saudi Arabia, UAE and Egypt, and has already begun producing its first project. The first film supported by the partnership is Three Four Eternity, a vampire family drama produced by Mohamed Hefzy (Clash, Sheikh Jackson) under his company Film Clinic, which will be the directorial debut for the film’s writer, Rami Yasin (The Worthy, Zinzana). HWJN, which is currently in development, is the feature film adaptation of the Saudi Arabian novel from author Ibrahim Abbas about a devout God-fearing Jinn who forges a special bond with a talented female medical student.

“This region has infinitely talented writers and filmmakers wanting to tell their stories, as well as a sophisticated consumer audience that craves locally made content that resonates with them,” stated Ben Ross, Chief Content Officer at Image Nation.

“This partnership will have a significant impact on the scale and ambition of the region’s industries, enabling more creatives to bring their ideas to life and deliver the content that audiences want to see. The trio of companies will facilitate the creative process at every step of a project’s development, and this is a major step towards our vision of creating dynamic content for the Middle East that will not only engage locally, but also play to the rest of the world.”

Majid Al Futtaim will contribute to the partnership through its cinemas arm as both an exhibitor and distributor of films.

Khaled El Chidiac, Acting CEO of Majid Al Futtaim – Ventures said: “Entertainment and creative industries are vital to a thriving and diversified economy and there has never been a more exciting time to be part of this field in the MENA region, and particularly, Saudi Arabia, in light of Vision 2030.  With the region being home to some of the most talented minds in the industry, we look forward to working closely with them as they bring their work to life and receive well-deserved exposure on a regional and international stage.”

Peter Smith, Managing Director of MBC Studios said: “This is a strategic move by MBC Studios complemented by our partners at Majid Al Futtaim and Image Nation Abu Dhabi. We’re bringing together, for the very first time, a 360-degree Arab film entity that covers all aspects of content creation, including development, production, theatrical exhibition, televising on the Middle East’s leading broadcaster and SVOD platforms, as well as international sales.

“We want to create premium Arabic language feature film content from across the Middle East to connect with audiences in the region and internationally. This partnership, in essence, creates a fully integrated studio.”

Earlier this year, Image Nation and MBC Studios announced a slate of Saudi films for local, regional and international audiences, which aim to film in Saudi and utilise Saudi talent in front of and behind the camera.