Could Dubai be part of a Netflix series?


Could Dubai be part of a Netflix series?

As Netflix's first Arabic series, 'Jinn', hits screens on Thursday, makers are open to more regional content.

By Michael Gomes

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Published: Wed 12 Jun 2019, 8:09 PM

Last updated: Wed 12 Jun 2019, 10:12 PM

"I don't expect 'Jinn' to be a game changer like the runaway hit 'Game of Thrones', but at least it's a stepping stone in the right direction," said Amin Matalqa, co-director of 'Jinn', the first ever Arabic series on Netflix that's premiering globally on Thursday, June 13. The filmmaker was talking to Khaleej Times from Amman, Jordan, where the Arabic series was launched with great fanfare on Wednesday.

Produced by Elan and Rajeev Dassani, who are the VFX specialists behind hit US series such as 'Scandal' and 'Justified', the supernatural drama was filmed at exotic locales of Jordan, including the ancient city of Petra.

'Jinn' brings Middle Eastern folklore to the modern world. Set in modern day Amman, the supernatural drama follows a group of teenagers as their friendships and budding romances are tested when they unknowingly invite the supernatural forces of two jinns into their world.

The ancient city of Petra, aka the Lost City and a treasured Unesco heritage site, is a popular site for Hollywood and Bollywood filmmakers.

When asked if Netflix would be interested in making a show set in Dubai, co-director of 'Jinn', Mir-Jean Bou Chaaya, said, "We are already developing a new show, four in fact, two from Gulf countries. I can't talk more about that at this point in time, but I'm hoping Dubai will be in one on them. I have worked in the UAE and some other places in the region before and 'Jinn' is the first time I'm working in Jordan."

So what were some of the challenges the makers faced while filming Jinn? "The biggest challenge was to bring the script to life. We had the budget, the outline but we needed to work on the tone of the show," said Amin Matalqa, co-director of 'Jinn'.

It took the team a year, after the auditions were done with, to make the five-episode series in Jordan and as the first episode hits the screens on Thursday (June 13), a new chapter, and opportunity opens up for Netflix in the region.

'Jinn' stars a young group of talented stars including Salma Malhas from Jordan who plays the lead role of Mira. Hamzeh Okab, who grew up in Dubai, plays Keras. Sultan Alkhail stars as Yassin and Aysha Shahaltough plays Vera.

"It's important to have shows like 'Jinn' where youngsters like us can relate to and see themselves in these characters," said Malhas. "It'll help young people dive deeper into their own culture."

As the first episode of 'Jinn' hits the screens on June 13, a new chapter, and opportunity opens up for Netflix in the region.

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