Exclusive Look: Mazen Laham’s Journey in Creating Shark Tank Dubai
The Streaming Lab Content Series MENA
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This week, Kenza Yarhfouri, a specialist in content production, takes the spotlight. She recently conducted an interview with Mazen Laham, owner and CEO of Different Production.
Who are Kenza Yarfouri & Mazen Laham?
The journey in creating Shark Tank Dubai
Who are Kenza Yarhfouri & Mazen Laham?
Kenza Yarhfouri thrives in the dynamic and challenging entertainment industry, where she successfully adapts various TV shows to resonate with local markets. Each project presents her with a new, exhilarating environment, offering both a challenge and a deep dive into the fascinating world of content production. You can contact her on LinkedIn to know more about her latest projects.
Mazen Laham has made his mark as the owner & CEO of Different Production, the company behind various local and international TV programs. Their recent projects are Dubai Bling for Netflix, Say Yes to the Dress for Discovery+ (available on Starzplay), the BBC reality show Astronauts, the cooking competition show Chopped and Shark Tank Dubai for Dubai TV.
The journey in creating Shark Tank Dubai
One of the biggest international hit finally arrived in UAE. Shark Tank Dubai was launched in December on Dubai TV. To understand how this famous format came to the region, let’s talk to Mazen Laham, CEO at Different Productions and producer of the local version.
Mazen is familiar with format adaptations and has already produced successful titles including Masterchef, Chopped, Astronauts, and Stand Up. He has worked with both linear channels and platforms for over a decade. He knows his business, and the business knows him.
How the story begun, and why this format?
Personally, I always loved this format. I believed that this title was made for our market. Dubai is the city of opportunities and investment. The city is a platform where people grab opportunities, meet investors, get connections, and reach goals. You have the Dubai dream similar to the American dream. The format simply reflects what Dubai is.
Some sales can be very long, but this time it was easy. With the channel “Dubai TV”, we had a mutual interest to have our local version. We have developed a trusting connection throughout the years of collaboration, so we both saw potential and opportunity in this format.
Where can we watch it?
The first season is 13 episodes aired on Thursdays at 10:30 pm on Dubai TV, and it’s also available on the streaming service Awaan. It’s a 50’ show, and in each episode, we can follow 5 different pitches from entrepreneurs mainly from UAE but also from Pan Arab region. The viewers will get familiar with a large range of products and services created by ambitious and talented entrepreneurs.
How far the adaptation is from the original?
Shark Tank is now adapted in 40 territories all around the 5 continents. The show has a strong identity, and the structure is very solid, so there is no need to have major changes to fit the region. Our adaptation is very close to the US version in terms of scale, set, looks and investment level.
We created our own set, a modern high-tech reflecting the spirit of Dubai and we used screens all around. In our version, the Sharks look like they are sitting in an aquarium. We have a nice edit, filming, and a good cast. Besides, it’s a great format where viewers can benefit as well from the Sharks’ experiences.
What are the key points of this format?
Casting is key. We needed to not only find our 5 Sharks, but also cast the entrepreneurs with relevant and new ideas to pitch.
Dubai is full of Sharks; it wasn’t hard to cast. However, we had to face a major issue, the time commitment. We needed to find talentuous people that can dedicate 2 weeks for the shooting. We are happy by our 5 Sharks, they fit all together and the bond they created is beyond the screen. The interaction went smooth and hopefully the viewers will feel the great chemistry and dynamic between them. It was very easy to work with them since they were humble, decent and professional.
Concerning the entrepreneurs, we headhunted the entrepreneurs and others applied online. In total, we had to deal with more than 80 companies.
What were the challenges for this first season?
To be honest, the production went very smooth, I can think of other adaptations where we had a hard time. For this title, it was a bless.
From the beginning we agreed to avoid making the Sharks wait too long to preserve the dynamic and not get them bored. As soon as they arrive on set, the recording starts, and we were careful to keep a fast pace between each pitch. The preparation was key in this process. We worked with the entrepreneurs to get as much details as possible from their pitches to anticipate their needs. The team did a great job to create personalized displays for each entrepreneur to sustain their pitch. Besides, they also make sure that the changes will be done in short time between 2 presentations.
If a season 2 is signed, what would you change?
It’s too early to make a statement. We are happy of our first season, and we need to wait for the feedback from the audience and the channel to start thinking about the changes. At the end, it’s all up to the viewers.
The show creates awareness, so for the second season we’ll certainly have more people applying and different companies willing to face our Sharks.
Make a wish, what would you wish for the industry in the region?
I wish, we can always have more time to prepare the shows. Sometimes, we only had 2 weeks to prepare a show. The more we have time for the preparation, the more efficient we are in the shooting. It’s starting to change, but slowly. People are becoming more aware; they make strategy and plan in advance, so it helps to make this wish come true.
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That’s all for today, the interview of Shark Tank producer Mazen Laham by Kenza Yarhfouri. If you enjoyed this breakdown, please consider sharing it with your friends and colleagues!
I hope everyone has a great week, see you online next Monday. Until then, enjoy (surprise…) Shark Tank Dubai on Awaan. A dynamic television series that showcases aspiring entrepreneurs as that present their innovative business concepts to a panel of highly successful and influential business titans, known as the “sharks”.
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