The first Netflix original series to come out of Egypt, the supernatural drama Paranormal, premiered on November 5th, Al Jazeera reports. The show is based on Dr. Ahmed Khaled Tawfik’s long-running Arabic-language thriller series Ma Waraa Al Tabiaa. Creator Amr Salama (Sheikh Jackson) allegedly accrued the adaptation rights all the way back in 2006, according to Al Jazeera.
Ma Waraa Al Tabiaa aided in the popularization of the horror genre in Egypt. In an interview with Fustany, Paranormal lead actor Ahmed Amin (El-Wasseya) expressed his wish for the Netflix adaptation to do for the medium of television what Tawfik’s series did for the Arabic-language book industry: “Just as this series was a turning point for the Arab reader’s relationship with horror literature, we hope that the [TV] series will also be a turning point for horror drama.”
Tawfik published over eighty installments in less than a quarter of a century. Most of the episodes in this first season share titles with specific installments in Tawfik’s series, such as The Myth of the Guardian of the Cave (Book #7), The Myth of the House (Book #12), and The Myth of the Incubus (Book #29). Salama (Sheikh Jackson) told Fustany that picking which books would make it into the show was a challenging process: “There were many criteria for selecting which stories would appear on screen, but the biggest one was my personal love for certain stories… There were many other criteria, like how the series will have a global reach, so we must present original Egyptian stories.”
Netflix’s director of Arabic and African original series, Ahmed Sharkawi, explained his focus and consideration of a worldwide audience. “The objective is always finding shows… that can travel within the broader Arab world, but also be offered in 190 countries,” via Variety. The global mindset has been a feature of Paranormal‘s marketing as well. To announce Paranormal‘s premiere date, Netflix Middle East & North Africa posted a lighthearted video on Twitter of Salama, Amin, and Paranormal performers Razane Jammal (Bad Buzz) and Ayah Samaha (Secret of the Nile) speaking in a variety of languages, like Spanish, French and Korean.
— Netflix MENA (@NetflixMENA) November 5, 2020
Netflix first confirmed their involvement as Paranormal‘s distributor in a 2019 press release. The press release also alludes to a planned Jordanian series called AlRawabi School for Girls, which was intended to be the second Netflix original series in Arabic. The first, 2018’s Jinn, was similarly a teen drama from Jordan, and incorporates supernatural elements into its story, not unlike Paranormal. In his Variety interview, Sharkawi explained that the internet entertainment giant has not abandoned plans to release AlRawabi School for Girls.
The first six episodes of Paranormal are available to stream on Netflix in the original Arabic, or alternately dubbed in English, Spanish and French.