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Abu Dhabi Developer Challenges Donald Trump with Middle East Reality Show


An Abu Dhabi-based real estate developer is launching an English-language reality show for the Middle East. As we hear from Mike O'Sullivan in Los Angeles, Sulaiman Al-Fahim, the chief executive of Hydra Properties, hopes to promote his company while attracting Western talent to his country.

The developer is challenging Donald Trump, the U.S. investor who hosts a reality show called The Apprentice.

Al-Fahim has commissioned his own promotional video.

"This is the land of entrepreneurs," touts the promo. "This is the land of opportunity. This is the land where dreams come true."

The land is Abu Dhabi, one of the seven emirates that make up the United Arab Emirates in the Gulf. Al-Fahim says his show will send eight American and eight British entrepreneurs there to compete in Middle Eastern property markets. Contestants will spend 15 weeks wheeling and dealing, and the winner will get one million dollars to launch his own company.

The series, called The Hydra Executives, is being produced with the cable channel Showtime Arabia. Al-Fahim says the program will publicize his company, Hydra Properties.

"And the reality show for us means not only publicity. It is an opportunity we can get through the entrepreneurs who are going to come with their ideas," he explained.

Al-Fahim understands Western style business. He earned a doctorate in real estate investment at American University in Washington, D.C. He says the reality series will showcase talented entrepreneurs from the United States and Britain.

Executive producer Ziad Batal, a veteran of reality shows in the Middle East, says a show like this needs conflict.

"All the candidates are going to be trying to win the million bucks, but our job in reality is to create the drama and the conflicts based on the assignments, and the teamwork," he explained. "Some people work well in teams, some people don't. So that's the beauty about reality TV."

Casting will start in December, and the show will air in the Middle East and possibly other markets beginning in March next year.

Casting director Beverly Pomerantz will find contestants for the show.

"We interview them, and we're looking for passionate people that really have a dream, something they've always wanted to do and they just didn't have an outlet to do it," she explained. "So this is a great opportunity."

CEO Sulaiman al-Fahim says no one will be fired, and even the losers will get something for their effort, an introduction to the Middle East and crash course in Middle Eastern real estate.

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