Co-founder and Ceo of Starz Play Maaz Sheikh poses in his office in Dubai on April 23, 2019. AFP / GIUSEPPE CACACE
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Streaming services in the Middle East are competing for Arab audiences with U.S. giant Netflix set to release its first Arabic production in June, chasing a slice of a potentially lucrative market. Streaming platforms Starz Play and Wavo have emerged in recent years as local competitors to Netflix, while giant Saudi-owned TV powerhouse MBC Group announced plans for original productions as well as the acquisition of international content to boost its streaming services Shahid and Shahid Plus.Netflix has been showing four Arabic-language dramas during this year's holy month, three being Gulf productions and one Syrian-Lebanese show.An estimated 85 percent to 90 percent of people across the Middle East watch television, while between 25 percent and 30 percent watch streaming video online with hundreds of thousands of subscribers, according to Mukul Krishna, head of digital media at U.S.-based research firm Frost & Sullivan. After Ramadan, Netflix will debut "Jinn" on June 13, its first production in Arabic. Netflix declined to disclose the number of subscribers it has in the Middle East.
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