‘The Exchange’ Team Talks Netflix’s First Original Series From Kuwait, About Women Who Shake Up the Stock Exchange (EXCLUSIVE) Most Popular Must Read Sign Up for Variety Newsletters More From Our Brands

On February 8, Netflix will drop “The Exchange,” the streamer’s first original series from Kuwait.

Set in 1988, on the eve of Saddam Hussein’s invasion of the city-state, the groundbreaking show is based on the true story of the first two women to break through the glass ceiling of Kuwait’s male-dominated stock exchange and establish themselves as talented traders. but proved Cutthroat environment

The main characters are Farida (Ravan Mehdi), a recent divorcee who, without her ex-husband’s cash, has a teenage daughter, and her cousin Munira (Muna Hussain), a clerk in the trading division of the Bank of Tomorrow. Is. They join forces to navigate a corrupt, patriarchal world, using their wits to shake up Kuwait’s stock exchange.

“The Exchange” was created and written by Nadia Ahmed, Ann Sobel and Adam Sobel. Prepared by Abdullah Bushehri; and directors Jassim Al-Muhanna (“The Cage”) and Karim El Shinawi (“Blood Oath”).

Ahead of the release of “The Exchange” streamers in 180 countries, Variety Ahmad and Bushehri spoke about the challenges of bringing Kuwait’s first Netflix original to the screen and what it could mean for the rest of the Gulf region.

Nadia, as I understand, this story is from your personal background?

Ahmad: Yes. The investment banking business was a big thing in Kuwait in the 70s and 80s. There was a lot of money to go around and not enough people managing the money, you know what I mean? The stock exchange was booming, investment banking was booming. This was where you would go if you wanted to make some serious money. My mother was a single mother – she was solely financially responsible for me, and she wanted the best for me. So she entered the world of investment banking, and I was constantly around women who were doing the same thing, who were breaking stereotypes of the Gulf. [people of the Arabian Peninsula] Women These women were pioneers, the first to enter these male-dominated spaces.

So yes, it was me reflecting on my childhood and my youth and wanting to bring something to the screen that had complex, multifaceted characters. Female characters I haven’t seen enough of from this region. And I’m really happy with how it turned out.

What were the main challenges from a production point of view?

Bushra: The moment they talked to me about the idea and the subject, I immediately told them that making this show would be a big challenge. Because this is not an ordinary love story or an ordinary action film. It’s a story that takes place in the workplace, which makes it very difficult to make it entertaining. So in the beginning, the subject seemed very, very challenging. I was afraid to be in a show that was only about offices and people, it would be difficult for people to follow. Especially since it talks about the financial world and the stock exchange.

But I’m a huge fan of “The Wolf of Wall Street.” Martin Scorsese is one of my role models. So, in a way, this movie initially reassured me that this world could be fun. And then when I started reading the script, I realized that there’s so much human emotion in “The Exchange,” and so much woman power and grounding and the kinds of stories that have never been told in this way before.

I found it interesting that we learn early on that Farida is a divorcee, and that her father is her guardian.

Ahmad: Well, this is a very subtle kind of allusion to the fact that in the West, women are in charge. The second they turn 18, they are legally independent. Whereas in the Gulf and the Arab world, women are mainly under the tutelage of men in their families. If it is not their father, it is their brother. If not her brother, then her husband. This was the case in the 80s. But even now we are fighting for our rights, for our patronage. Whether it’s Saudi Arabia or Kuwait, we’re still doing it.

Kuwait has long been a hub for TV production in the region, but strictly for local products. How important is this show in terms of reaching a global audience?

Bushra: What I can say is that Netflix told me they see Kuwait as a gateway. [Gulf] Therefore, they chose Kuwait as the first country in which to perform this type of show.

This interview has been condensed and edited.

Read full article here

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