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‘Million Dollar Listing UAE’ stars on why the Mideast version of the hit US show could be the best

DUBAI: The much-anticipated Middle East version of the Emmy-nominated luxury real estate series “Million Dollar Listing” is premiering on Friday.   

The bi-lingual series, which will be available to stream on the region’s video-on-demand platform Starzplay, offers viewers a glimpse into the lives of five prominent UAE-based brokers as they navigate the competitive real estate business in Abu Dhabi and Dubai, all while balancing their personal lives. 

Following the hit series from Bravo in the US, the first international version of the show will follow the journeys of Ben Bandari, Zay Brown, Riad Gohar, Nassira Sekkay and Rami Wahood. 

Ahead of the premiere, the cast sat with Arab News to give us a glimpse of what the audience can expect from the UAE edition. 

Bandari, who is Canadian, is the most experienced in the group. In addition to running his own company, Bandari is also a father. 

When speaking to Arab News, he said the audience will get to see some of “the most beautiful properties all over the UAE, Dubai and Abu Dhabi.” 

“They will see a lot of drama amongst the cast mates, but good drama, real estate drama. It really dives into our personal lives. It’s very candid and shows our relationships with our families, our peers, and how basically the real estate cycle within the UAE works,” he teased. 

In Bandari’s opinion, the UAE edition could be “better than the US version.”  

“I hope to give New York and Los Angeles a run for its money. But if it’s on par with the US, if not, it’s even better. Take my word for it,” he added.  

Just like Bandari, Gohar said he has been watching the US show for more than 15 years. But, to him, the Middle East edition is diverse and unique. 

“The culture in the UAE is very diverse. The cast is from all around the world. We got the American, the Canadian, the Egyptian, the British, the Moroccan, so you got a diverse cast, and then the clientele itself,” he said. “It really adds so much interest in the show. It’s not one mind only, but many minds.”  

Brown, from the UK, is the youngest broker on the show and says she did not think twice before joining the series.  

“I was adamant, because I felt like for lots of people out there, they see shows like this and they think that people just get the job. For me, it’s a different story,” she recalled. “I came to this country with no money. I was broke. I was driving a really bad car and I am telling this story because I want people to understand that you don’t have to be someone that came from the rich. You don’t have to be someone that had connections. I came from nothing, and I worked my way to get to where I am today.” 

“So, I had to be on the show because I want to show people around the world and around the city that you can do it. You can put your mind to it as a female,” she added. “It is a male dominated industry for sure, but as a young woman, you can definitely achieve it and you can stand beside the veterans and the OGs.”  

Real estate for Sekkay, from Morocco, is a matter of life or death, she says. Success is her only option, and she will do whatever it takes to achieve her goals. 

“Being an Arab woman, I want to represent every single Arab woman in this world,” she said. “I want to show that a woman can make it in a male dominated industry.”  

Sekkay told Arab News that she is opening her own real estate company, and “it’s going to be the female empire I want. I want to push and to help other women succeed in the UAE,” she said.  

The “Million Dollar Listing” format started in the US in 2006 and with over 12 seasons has proven to be a popular series. Image Nation Abu Dhabi has licensed the rights to the franchise from NBCUniversal. 

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