Saudi-owned MBC Group, which is the top broadcaster in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, has forged a five-year partnership with Turkish TV production powerhouses Medyapim and Ay Yapim, officially ending a ban on Turkish soaps that had been put in place in 2018.

MBC, which is the top satellite free-to-air player in the Middle East and North Africa, and also a major MENA region premium streamer, in 2018 had pulled highly popular Turkish dramas from its channels, allegedly for political reasons stemming from tensions at that time between Turkey and Saudi Arabia. The move was also believed to have been made to give greater impetus to local production. Since then, several Turkish shows had gradually seeped back into MBC programming. But this deal signals a complete policy reversal.

The partnership, unveiled at the Mipcom TV market in Cannes, involves first look and volume deals between MBC and Medyapim and Ay Yapim, as well as agreements for the two prominent Turkish production companies to produce Arabic-language content for the MENA market.

Titles included in the deal were not revealed.

Medyapim’s global hits include the soaps “Girl Named Feriha,” “Mother,” and “Woman,” while Ay Yapim is best known for “Endless Love,” “Fatmagul,” “Ezel,” and “Forbidden Love,” among other shows.

“It’s no secret that Turkish content is extremely popular with MENA audiences,” said MBC Group CEO Sam Barnett in a statement. “With two fantastic Turkish production houses – Medyapim and Ay Yapim – coming on board and collaborating with MBC Group, not only are audiences going to receive first access to upcoming Turkish TV hits, but we’re also going to focus on exchanging expertise and knowledge to produce some exciting Arabic-language dramas and other programs, shot in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and rest of the MENA region,” he went on to add.

Said Kerem Çatay, CEO of Ay Yapim: “Fifteen years ago, MBC Group was the first foreign network to broadcast an Ay Yapim series. They were leaders then, and they are leaders now. That’s why I’m so happy to be teaming up with them to create this new chapter in drama. I know we will do great things together!”

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