From Directors To Producers: Meet The Arabs Shaping Western Film & TV

Nothing beats a genuinely good movie or TV show, whether it is a major blockbuster or an Emmy-awarded series. Western entertainment holds all-star power on the global stage, and that is why it is exciting when we learn that some of the gears operating the well-oiled entertainment machine are Arabs.

From the directors to producers to casting directors, these are all the Arabs who have placed a major foothold on Western film and television:

Adil El Arbi & Bilall Fallah

Our favorite two rule-breaking detectives in the Miami Police Department, played by the hilarious duo of Will Smith and Martin Lawrence, are coming back once again in the 4th rendition of their film series, Bad Boys: Ride or Die.

The film has been generating some hype but what got us more excited is how two Moroccan filmmakers are the ones behind the latest installments of the ultra successful franchise.

Born on Belgian soil but of Moroccan descent, Adil El Arbi and Bilall Fallah met during film school in Brussels, and their unique partnership blossomed. Since then, they’ve directed a slew of blockbuster films, including the third and fourth installments of Bad Boys and the superhero TV flick Marvel.

Cherien Dabis

For lovers of good-quality TV, you’ve probably heard about Ozark, Little Voice, and Only Murders in the Building. It turns out that American-Palestinian director Cherien Dabis is behind several episodes of these widely acclaimed shows.

When it comes to Only Murders in the Building, Dabis was the director behind the Emmy-nominated “The Boy From 6B” episode, which was told entirely from the perspective of a deaf character and only had one sentence of dialogue.

She is also behind the “Dear Hope” episode from Little Voice, where Brittany O’Grady is left reeling by an incident involving her roommate, Prisha.

Mohammed Al Turki

Beyond directors, Arab producers have also streamed into the Western world of entertainment. That is our queue to introduce you to Saudi producer Mohammed Al Turki, known in the industry as a ‘star maker’. He is behind a string of popular Hollywood films that include Crisis (2021), 99 Homes (2014), and Arbitrage (2012).

Now, he is shifting his focus to the Kingdom itself, leveraging his deep connections to help boost the film industry in Saudi Arabia.

Mico Saad

Actor, filmmaker, and member of the Golden Globes Jury, Egyptian-American Mico Saad carved out a career for himself in the film industry when he moved to America. There, he worked as a producer of several TV shows and worked with Ricky Gervais, Anthony Hopkins, and other notable actors on several films.

Hamzah Saman

In all these films and TV shows, characters dominate the screen, and behind every character is someone behind the scenes whose entire job revolves around hand-selecting actors to match the role. One particular casting director is not only Arab but also the head of his own Arab American casting company.

Meet Lebanese-American Hamzah Saman, the casting director who noticed how there are not enough Arab actors in Hollywood.

After working as an actor, he shifted his focus to casting, and some of his work includes helping with the casting of films like Argo and working in the LA Casting Unit on the documentary “He Named Me Malala” (2015) with the Oscar-winning director Davis Guggenheim.

All these Arabs have managed to pave their way into the world of Hollywood, taking on major blockbusters and Emmy-nominated TV shows. They have also managed to have the Arab voice stream through to these global productions.

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