‘Arabic content doesn’t have to be ‘culturally controversial’, Wesam Kattan

Published: 15 September 2019 - 4 a.m.
By: Nikhil Pereira

Viu VP of content Wesam Kattan has hit out against culturally sensitive Arabic content.

Recently, Netflix original Jinn caused a stir in Jordan — where the series is based — for the language and cultural portrayal it depicted.

Some experts feel there is an element of “cultural hypocrisy” in the region and shows such as Jinn will help break those norms.

Kattan — who himself is a Saudi national — doesn’t share similar sentiments.

He told Digital Studio ME: “You can be controversial without hurting the culture and without introducing things that are foreign to the general taste of your audience based on the region that you’re in.

“Change doesn’t have to be controversial or provocative. We’ve seen how Doon — an original that created a fan base in no less than three days since it was launched. Zodiac, our Egyptian original, swept the awards in a very competitive period which is the Ramadan period. It really stood out even though it was only 15 episodes compared to the 30 episode series that were available during that month.”

For Viu experimenting with a new genre is challenging the norm, Kattan said.

“Introducing new tools in storytelling is what creates change in our opinion. Introducing a story that’s based on an ensemble cast rather than one big A-list or name, that is edgy for us.”

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