MBC Studios Ramps Up TV Production With Saudi Series ‘Rise of The Witches,’ ‘Devil’s Promise,’ ‘1001 Nights’

12 April 2022 Related articles


MBC Studios Ramps Up TV Production With Saudi Series ‘Rise of The Witches,’ ‘Devil’s Promise,’ ‘1001 Nights’

By Nick Vivarelli

Dubai-based broadcaster and streamer MBC is ramping up production with several new high-end shows.

These include “Rise of The Witches,” being touted as the biggest-budget Saudi Arabian TV series to date, “The Devil’s Promise,” created by U.K. writer Tony Jordan, and crime thriller “1001 Nights.”

MBC Group CEO Sam Barnett in an interview said MBC Studios now has 65 projects in various stages and reiterated the the Saudi-owned company is committed to serve as a driver to help kickstart the kingdom’s nascent industry.

“Rise of The Witches” (first look image, above) is based on a Saudi novel described by Barnett as “a fantasy novel set 1,500 years ago in a time of witches” with a strong female empowerment theme.

The storyline of the show, written by British actor and writer Charlie Higson (the “Young Bond” novel series), who worked in tandem with two female Saudi writers on “Witches,” tracks the rise of two witches’ covens that ultimately go to war with each other.

Emmy-nominated Irish director Declan O’Dweyer (“Free Rein”) and the U.K.’s Craig Pickles (“London Kills”) are directing the “Witches” series, with Dominic Barlow (“The Last Kingdom”) serving as show runner and producer along with Rasha AlEmam for MBC Studios.

Shooting on “Witches” started in January in NEOM, a sprawling area in the northwest along Saudi’s Red Sea coast with ambitions to become a major industry hub where $100 million seventh century actioner “Desert Warrior,” featuring an all-star international cast led by “Captain America” star Anthony Mackie, was recently shot.

The plan is for “Witches,” which features an all-Saudi cast of more than 100 actors, to remain in production in NEOM through December.

Other high-end TV series in the MBC pipeline include:

— “The Devil’s Promise,” a series created by Tony Jordan (“Life on Mars”) “about a guy who does a deal with the devil to protect his wife who is sick,” said Barnett. He added that this show features “Saudi characters, Egyptian characters and international ones; all done at a very high level.”  Devil’s Promise,” which is in both Arabic and English, has been produced in Egypt, directed by British director Colin Teague (“Being Human”) and is now completed. Jordan and Teague previously teamed up on MBC’s Saudi series “Rashash” that is based on the true story of a 1980’s Saudi Arabian drug trafficker convicted of murder and has been a hit on MBC’s Shahid VIP streaming platform. MBC is planning to release “Devil’s Promise” on Shahid VIP in the second quarter of this year.

— “1001 Nights,” a modern-day crime thriller infused with tales from “The Thousand and One Nights.” This ambitious show is being developed by MBC with U.S. TV producer and writer Thania St. John (“Project Blue Book,” “Chicago Fire”) and Irish-British director/writer Steve Barron (“Around the World in 80 Days”) both attached.