Netflix is creating a series based on the novels of Egyptian author Ahmed Khaled Tawfik

Find out about the new series, Paranormal and the huge task the talented, established team will face when to creating it

Ahmed Khaled Tawfik's Paranormal novel have sold more than 15 million copies in the Arab world. Photo: Supplied

by Staff Reporter

Entertainment 27 May 2019

Netflix are spearheading a movement here. And we’re all for it.

As a streaming channel that has become a cultural phenomenon (I mean, can anyone not think of chilling after they think of Netflix?), they are proving their commitment to creating highly produced authentic content for Arabs about Arabs.

Instead of creating stories of what they think are “Arab stories” Netflix are delving in to the Arab world and utilizing the massive pool of talent from writers, actors, directors in different genres to tell us Arab stories in new ways.

First with their original show Jinn, set to be released on June 13, and then with Al Rawabi School for Girls, and now their third Middle Eastern original show Paranormal.

Paranormal is based on the hugely popular and iconic best-selling novels by the late Egyptian author Ahmed Khaled Tawfik.

They have sold more than 15 million copies in the Arab world.

Set in 1960s Egypt, the stories follow the adventures of Dr. Refaat Ismail a hematologist who finds himself in the midst of supernatural predicaments.

This will be Netflix’s first original attempt at Egyptian drama, a genre that has a long history on Arab TV and of being incredibly popular all over the Arab world.

‘I’m proud to be working with Netflix on bringing to life the Paranormal series, which I hold dear to my heart,’ Mohamed Hefzy, the show’s producer said.

The award winning screenwriter and producer has written, produced, and co-produced nearly 30 feature films in Egypt, US, UK, and across the Arab world.

Award winning producer Mohamed Hefzy.

Hefzy is also a great film activist, supporting young creatives in the Arab film industry in numerous ways and was appointed president of the Cairo Film Festival in 2018.

He also said in a statement released by Netflix:

‘I’m also excited to be cooperating again with longtime collaborator and friend, director Amr Salama. Together with Netflix, we aim to present a show of international quality and that lives up to the promises and ambitions of Egyptian and Arabic drama.’

Director and screenwriter Amr Salama will be Paranormal’s showrunner and director.

So what can we expect from Paranormal?

Well, if the novels are anything to go by, there’ll be mystery, suspense, horror and possibly some Hitchcock vibes?

That all depends on the vision of Hefzy along with his longtime collaborator Amr Salama, who will also be Paranormal’s showrunner and director.

‘I’m very excited about this project. It was my dream to adapt Paranormal of the late author Ahmed Khaled Tawfik and turn it into a drama ever since I wanted to be a filmmaker,’ Salama said.

Given his filmography, Salama is the perfect person to be helming this project.

Salama’s first feature movie, Zay El Naharda (On a Day Like Today) (2008) was a thriller he wrote and directed about fate, relationships and drug addiction. It was critically acclaimed and a commercial success.

He is also known for the film Salma which got him a lot of international attention. The film stars Hend Sabry and see her character, Salma, struggling keep her HIV diagnoses a secret.

The film was awarded 18 international, Arab and Egyptian awards.

‘I’m proud to present the books in a new light while still keeping the essence of Paranormal. I can’t wait to introduce these exciting stories to the Netflix public in 190 countries around the world.’

One thing’s for sure.

Hefzy and Salama have a huge task ahead of them. Ahmed Khaled Tawfik’s books have an incredibly loyal following and fans won’t be happy if the books, which have influenced a whole generation’s adolescence as well as paved the way for contemporary Arab sic-fi, aren’t true to the stories and to the quality they deserve.

But let’s look at the right side of things. New ground is being broken, new opportunities are on the horizon, the show is being made.

The shows accessibility to a massive global audience will shine a spotlight not only on alternate Arab stories that could be produced but in the prolific career of Ahmed Khaled Tawfik as a writer and hopefully more works of fiction by Arab authors to be adapted for television.

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