Arab ‘Office’ fans, unite! The British Broadcasting Network (BBC), home to the original UK rendition of the beloved show, has teamed up with Saudi Arabia’s renowned Middle East Broadcasting Center (MBC) to bring you the very first adaptation of ‘The Office’ in Arabic — ‘Al Maktab’.
The Arabic remake will be Saudi-led, produced by MBC with official guidance and licensing by the BBC, and directed by Egyptian filmmaker Hisham Fathi. Filming is set to start in June of 2022 with Alessandro Martella serving as director of photography and AFLAM Productions’ Shadi Mcdad as producer.
‘Al Maktab’ is set to take place in a courier services company. The main character, who in the Western renditions would be known as Michael Scott in the US (Steve Carell) or David Brent in the UK (Ricky Gervais), will be played by Saudi’s own Saleh Abuamrh. He will play Malik Al-Tuwaifi, the “self-absorbed yet loveable boss,” as described by BBC and MBC.
Also joining the cast are Fahad Albutairi, Nawaf Alshobaili, Saad Aziz, Adhwa Fahad, Razan Mansour, Reem Busati, Hisham Hawsawi, and more.
Though many fans might associate ‘The Office’ with Michael Scott’s many shenanigans at Scranton, Pennsylvania’s Dunder Mifflin, it must not be forgotten that the US version is, in itself, a remake. The mockumentary-style comedy held some not-so-humble origins having been written and directed by Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant and airing first in the United Kingdom over two decades ago. The Arabic remake will mark the 12th international sale of the license for the show.
A deadpan, satirical comedy style is not new to Saudi Arabia, either. Arab comedy buffs may remember Saudi Arabia’s iconic ‘Tash ma Tash,’ a sketch show from the 90s shedding socio-political commentary far ahead of its time. This may ease the recurring fear fans might have concerning reboots of their beloved shows and movies. We also hope the Egyptian director of ‘Al Maktab’ will contribute some of that upbeat Egyptian humor we all know and love.
The twenty-part series will air on MBC’s TV channels, and stream on Shahid VIP – the world’s leading Arabic streaming platform – later this year.
Now, asking for a friend, how does one translate ‘parkour’ in Arabic?