Saudi Arabia’s MBC & Shahid VIP unveil writing talent scheme

Jana Yamani

Saudi Arabia media giant MBC Group has launched a new program designed to discover domestic and international writing talent, with ideas potentially then being turned into shows for its streamer Shahid VIP.

Fikraty – which means ‘my idea’ – is aimed at aspiring writers and will see talent collaborating with MBC and Shahid VIP to turn the best submissions into full drama TV productions.

Candidates will also be eligible to receive part of a $250,000 new fund, which is being set aside for those behind the new shows.

Shahid VIP’s global play

The scheme is the latest step for MBC and its SVOD Shahid VIP, which was rolled out into North America in October with more than 25,000 hours of Arabic content, including originals and local versions of shows such as The Voice.

Earlier this year, Shahid’s chief content officer, Jakob Mejlhede Andersen, told TBI that the streamer is looking to “substantially” ramp up budgets for its original high-end drama from the $1m per episode mark, while MBC has more recently struck content partnership with Facebook to develop content for the social media service’s VOD platform Facebook Watch.

Jana Yamani, executive director of MBC Academy & Talents, said the new scheme would help to uncover “unique content, particularly in the field of TV drama.”

She added: “It’s immensely important for us to discover and nurture promising talent from the Arab world. We promise to offer them the right support, investment, and appropriate platforms to see their how their ideas can transform from a small idea to a fully-fledged TV title.

“We look forward to discovering these talented young men and women; working with them and helping them shape their writing into professional scripts.”

Ali Jaber, MBC Group’s director of TV, added that the company would guarantee writers full IP rights to their work, while Jakob Mejhede, chief content officer at Shahid VIP, said the program would help expand the streamer’s slate.

“We are incredibly passionate about discovering new writers and talent – it’s crucial to provide an outlet for those individuals who can make a difference to the industry. And as we know, it’s now more important than ever to present unique, an edgy and thought-provoking content for our audiences.

“Our mission is to have Shahid VIP become the leading destination for high-end Arabic-language scripted content – whether provided by leading producers or promising newcomers.”


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