Saudi hip-hop artist Qusai is voicing over the Will Smith role in the English-language original of Spies In Disguise, the animated movie that opens December 24. Lebanese television presenter Raya Abirached and the hosts of Arabs Got Talent will join him for the recording in the Egyptian capital Cairo at the Al Masreya Media studios lead by dubbing director Tarek Ebeid.

Qusai said about his new role,

As soon as I was approached to voice the character played by Will Smith in the original version, I felt an immediate connection. Lance Sterling is an incredible character with humour and wit and I really wanted to do the role justice.

The film is smart, funny and hugely entertaining and I can’t wait for audiences in the Middle East to watch it.

The news comes as the Dubai International Content Market (DICM) marks its second and final day.

Held at the Jumeirah Beach Hotel Conference Centre in Dubai, this year’s DICM has over 500 participants from more than 50 countries including from South America, UK, Russia, Turkey and MENA, with a strong lineup of regional and international exhibitors, buyers and speakers.

DICM offers brands in the global and regional media, entertainment and content landscape, an annual platform in Dubai to explore the local market, gain entry and expand their footprint in the most lucrative markets of the MENA region.

The organisers have reported 850 pre-scheduled meetings with potential business deals worth over 200 million dollars anticipated.

The UAE media market is estimated to be worth $2.2 billion, and while the focus here is on film & TV the potential for both domestic and overseas publishers can hardly be understated.

Traditionally MENA (Middle East North Africa) has been seen as a backwater for publishing and of little interest, with production and distribution challenges outweighing the potential benefits.

But as we prepare to start the 2020s publishers need to abandon  pre-2010s thinking and embrace the new paradigm that is the digitally-driven Global New Renaissance where no part of the planet if off-limits and every country is a gateway. That is to say, an opportunity for publishes both to introduce content and to export content back to our domestic shores.

MENA’s digital books infrastructure is still weak right now, but that will change quickly over the next few years as Arab publishing and book retail catches up with other media in a one-language region of over 400 million where over 200 million are online.

Still not convinced? I leave you with these recent posts here at TNPS: