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VIDEO: Made in Bahrain TV series captivates Netflix fans

Bahrain News
Sun, 25 Feb 2018
By Razan Alkhair

NETFLIX audiences around the world are tuning in to a new, adrenalin-fuelled reality TV series made in Bahrain.

The show, Arabia Motors, gives viewers a behind-the-scenes look at what it takes to produce a motoring magazine in the Middle East.

That includes everything from races, drift shows, off-roading and access to exclusive showrooms and car collections.

Its first season has been available on Netflix since last month in the UK, Ireland, the US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Argentina, South Africa, Bangladesh and Pakistan.

The concept is a collaboration between Bahrain-based Arabia Motors magazine and JEO Productions, a Bahraini film and TV production house.

“Because we’re in the Middle East, the production company wanted to sell it internationally,” explained Arabia Motors chief executive and editor-in-chief Sameer Uchi, 47.

“But they didn’t expect the international market to be a company like Netflix, which is a very strong platform.

“Unfortunately in Bahrain we don’t export fame, we import fame.

“I thought to do it the other way round and the reception from the international community has been phenomenal.

“I’m getting e-mails and messages from people in Australia, New Zealand, California, Florida and places I’ve never heard of telling me they think the show is amazing and they can’t wait for season two.

“Arabia Motors is a brand made in Bahrain as just a magazine, but it has become an international brand giving a sneak peek into the Arab world’s automotive hobby.”

The two other prominent cast members are Arabia Motors editor Mohammed Kayani, 43, and Nadia Hijris, 29, who was brought in to run the magazine’s social media, and there are also guest appearances by well-known names.

“Everyone has a strength,” said Mr Uchi. “I’m the boss and decision maker, Nadia is the social media expert and Mohammed is the motor guru who knows everything about cars.”

While the show is not currently available to audiences in the Middle East, Mr Uchi said talks were ongoing.

“We hope this show will reach a Middle Eastern audience, but it’s still in negotiation,” he said.

The show offers an insight into the high-speed ride of a motoring magazine production team, but also showcases its trials, tribulations and tension between staff.

“When it was done we had to go back and edit the things that were really rude and personal,” said Mr Uchi.

“We had to clean it up a little because some things (said) were too real.”

A camera crew followed the cast for around three months, but the entire production process took up to a year and a half to complete.

The result is a first season of 13 episodes that JEO Productions producer Josie Houpt described as “fast-paced”.

“The great thing about filming lifestyle shows is that people will get to get to know how Bahrain is like any place in the world,” she said.

“Sameer and Mo are a great crew. The show is humorous, fast-paced and we were even able to go to do Dubai to film a couple of episodes and see some of the crazy cars over there.”

Several other segments were also filmed at the Bahrain International Circuit (BIC).

While details of a second season are yet to be confirmed, the company promises viewers a “blood-pumping, heart-racing television show”.

“A blend of humorous moments mixed with the stress of getting an issue to print, this blood-pumping, heart-racing television show will put you in the drivers seat, experiencing the wild joyride that is their work, their passion, their life’s investment before it’s sold for audience consumption,” it says on its website.