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Netflix ventures into Middle East, adds Arabic

Expansion will not reach countries like Syria, Crimea and North Korea due to US government restrictions

Online TV giant Netflix confirmed on Monday that it is launching its service globally in more than 190 countries, including the UAE and Saudi Arabia, among other countries in the Middle East.

The service immediately went live in more than 130 countries, which have been added to the 60 countries in which it already operates, while a keynote speech was being made by the company’s cofounder and chief executive, Reed Hastings, during the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas.

“With this launch, consumers around the world – from Singapore to St. Petersburg, from San Francisco to Sao Paulo – will be able to enjoy TV shows and movies simultaneously – no more waiting. With the help of the Internet, we are putting power in consumers’ hands to watch whenever, wherever and on whatever device,” Hastings said while making the announcement.

In 2016, the company plans to release numerous series, feature films, documentaries, children’s series and other entertainment shows.

Since launching its streaming service in 2007, Netflix has largely broadcasted in English, in addition to 17 other languages it supports. However, with the global expansion, several new languages have been added, including Arabic.

The expansion covers the majority of the world, but will not reach countries like Syria, Crimea and North Korea, due to the US government’s restrictions on American companies.

Some of Netflix’s most popular shows include Orange is the New Black and House of Cards.

Last year, several reports speculated that the online streaming media had plans to enter the Middle East market by the end of 2016, but the move actually happened much earlier.

In addition to rolling out its service in the Middle East and supporting the Arabic language, Netflix created a Twitter account especially for the region, which went live late last night.