The Office getting Middle Eastern makeover


Classic British sitcom The Office is being remade in Arabic, with 20 episodes of a new series airing in the Middle East later this year.

The original British version of The Office was written and directed by Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant, with the first episode airing on BBC Two in July 2001.

Revolving around the employees of Slough paper merchant Wernham Hogg and their awkward boss David Brent – played by Gervais – the show ran for 12 episodes, plus a two-part Christmas special.

That original series was exported to more than 80 countries, but there were also remakes in France, Germany, Canada, India, Israel, and many more. The most successful of the overseas versions was the American Office, which launched in 2005, and starred Steve Carell and John Krasinski.

Article continues after ad

How will the Arabic version of The Office differ?

Following a deal between BBC Studios and local producer-broadcaster MBC, this will be the first version of the show in Arabic.

Renamed El Maktab, the remake will be set at a courier company, with Saleh Abuamrh playing Malik Al-Tuwaif, the terrible boss in question.

Egyptian filmmaker Hisham Fathi is directing the series, which will air on MBC in the region, and stream on Shahid VIP.

Ricky Gervais as David Brent in the first series of The Office.

Why themes of The Office are universal

The many localized versions of The Office suggest its themes of ego, pride, jealousy, and desperation are universal.

Speaking of the deal, BBC Studios SVP Format Sales André Renaud told Deadline: “Although office working may look slightly different for many of us in 2022, the familiarity of these well-observed characters as they navigate petty rivalries, moments of friendship and humor, and a boss that sometimes makes a fool of themselves still rings just as true.”

Article continues after ad