MBC Studios, the production arm of leading Saudi media company MBC Group, has begun filming Rise Of The Witches – the biggest ever TV series to be made in the country.
The 10-part adventure-fantasy series is being shot on purpose-built sets at Neom, a $500bn megacity that is under construction in the northwest province of Tabuk, and holds the largest ever budget for special effects for a Saudi production, according to MBC.
The series will feature a predominantly Saudi cast, led by local stars Ida AlKusay and Sumaya Rida, and tells the story of an epic war between two rival witch covens. It is based on the bestselling books by Saudi author Osamah Almuslim and has been adapted by UK actor and writer Charlie Higson alongside two female Saudi writers.
The series is directed by Declan O’Dwyer and Craig Pickles, with production led by Dominic Barlow, and MBC Group’s Zeinab Abu Alsamh as executive producer.
Rise Of The Witches will launch as a Shahid Original series on MBC’s pan-Arab streaming platform Shahid later this year. Sales outside the Middle East will be handled by Stewart Till and MBC Studio’s sales team.
It marks the latest big-budget production to shoot at Neom. Last year, Desert Warrior shot in the region, a $150m feature directed by Rupert Wyatt and starring Anthony Mackie, produced by Start Ford’s AGC Studios and Jeremy Bolt at JB Pictures in partnership with MBC Studios.
Further high-end series in the MBC pipeline include The Devil’s Promise from Tony Jordan, the UK creator of Life On Mars, about a man who strikes a deal with the devil to protect his sick wife; and 1001 Nights, a contemporary crime-thriller developed with US producer and writer Thania St. John and writer-director Steve Barron.