BBC Studios and MBC STUDIOS announce “Al Maktab”, the first Arabic-language version of award-winning comedy, “The Office”

31 May 2022

BBC Studios and MBC STUDIOS – the in-house premium content production arm of MBC GROUP – the largest and leading media company in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) have announced a new scripted format agreement that will see the BAFTA and Golden Globe award-winning comedy series, “The Office” remade for audiences across the Arab world.

Titled “Al Maktab”, the Saudi-led version of the comedy will be produced by MBC STUDIOS, with support from the BBC Studios international production team who have licensed the format.

Scheduled to begin filming this June (2022), the Arabic-language series is to be directed by renowned Egyptian filmmaker Hisham Fathi, with Alessandro Martella as director of photography (DoP) and AFLAM Productions’ Shadi Mcdad as producer.

André Renaud, SVP Format Sales for BBC Studios said: “Although office working may look slightly different for many of us in 2022, the familiarity of these well-observed characters as they navigate petty rivalries, moments of friendship and humour, and a boss that sometimes makes a fool of themselves still rings just as true. I’m sure audiences in the Middle East and the Gulf will take Malik and his team to their hearts as much as audiences did with David Brent in the UK over twenty years ago”.

“Audiences around the world, including in the MENA region, are no strangers to ‘The Office’, and given its huge success over the past two decades, it’s incredibly exciting for us to now be bringing the very first Arabic version of the comedy to MBC’s screens very soon,” said Zeinab Abul Alsamh – General Manager of MBC STUDIOS KSA. “’Al Maktab’ features a very talented cast from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and beyond who will bring the stories of this eccentric group of colleagues and their boss to life, reimagined for Middle Eastern and Gulf audiences for the very first time. It’s definitely one for the history books!”

A fly-on-the-wall style mocumentary, the original version of “The Office” was written and directed by Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant, and first aired in the UK over 20 years ago. The agreement with MBC STUDIOS and BBC Studios will mark the 12th international sale of the format, alongside other territories including the US, Canada, Chile, France, India and most recently in Poland.

In the Saudi adaptation, “Al Maktab” is set in a courier services company, with the main character played by Saleh Abuamrh. He plays Malik Al-Tuwaifi, the self-absorbed yet loveable boss.

Also joining the cast are Fahad Albutairi, Nawaf Alshobaili, Saad Aziz, Adhwa Fahad, Razan Mansour, Reem Busati, Hisham Hawsawi, and others.

The twenty-part series will broadcast on MBC’s TV channels, and stream via Shahid VIP – the world’s leading Arabic streaming platform – later this year.

[Source: MBC press release]

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