Saudi-owned MBC Group is to expand its catalogue of Japanese anime on its streaming platform, Shahid.

In a statement the region’s broadcaster said it had teamed up “with key anime studios and production houses in Japan and beyond to bring more anime content to its streaming platform.”

Tareq Al-Ibrahim, director of content for subscription video on demand at Shahid was quoted as saying: “Anime is extremely popular in the Middle East region — particularly in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia — so needless to say, we are incredibly excited to be making new additions to our ever-expanding anime catalogue on Shahid, bringing new and hit titles that audiences will love exploring.”

MBC Group has secured exclusive rights in the MENA region to TV Tokyo’s Bleach: Thousand-Year Blood War, anime television series which will stream on Shahid at the same time as Japan and the US.

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Last month, Toei Animation’s “One Piece Film: Red,” topped the Saudi box office. MBC has also extended its partnership with the studio to add more episodes of its “One Piece” TV series. Among the Shahid’s current offerings, is the Japanese-Saudi animated action film, “The Journey” which is a modern-day re-telling of the Aksumite invasion of Makkah by Abraha, a southern Arabian king, who sought to destroy the Kaaba, which is referenced in the Qur’an.

In October, as part of Riyadh Season, the kingdom hosted the Saudi Anime Expo the largest anime expo in the region.

The popularity of anime in the Middle East stretches back decades, with many children having grown up in the 1970s and 1980s watching Japanese-produced cartoons dubbed in Arabic, most notably the football-themed series Captain Majid.