Disney+, the in-house streaming service of the global entertainment major, is finally coming to the UAE and 15 other markets across the wider Middle East and North Africa region, on June 8.
Fans of Disney favourites including Marvel, Star Wars, and the company’s huge back catalogue of family films and animation, from Snow White to Encanto, have been eagerly awaiting information ever since the company revealed a teaser for a summer launch in the region, with no date confirmed, back in January.
What is Disney+?
Disney+ is the streaming service of The Walt Disney Company, creators of some of the world’s best-loved movie and TV entertainment. It was officially launched in its home, the US, as well as in selected global markets including Canada and the Netherlands, in November 2019. This followed a period of winding down contracts with rivals, including Netflix, to take key Disney properties such as Marvel back into house ownership.
Prior to launching its own service, the media giant had licensed several of its properties to an international patchwork of broadcasters and streaming services, and until recently, the Middle Eastern rights to much Disney+ content was held by OSN under the Disney+ on OSN banner.
The official launch of Disney+ followed the successful trial of a prototype DisneyLife streaming service in the UK, which was replaced by the full Disney+ service in early 2020. Ahead of the Middle East launch in June, Disney+ is already available in more than 80 countries and territories, and claimed 196.4 million global subscribers in its earnings report for the first quarter of 2022.
The June launch across the Mena region is part of a wider expansion that will include 42 new countries and 11 territories where Disney+ services will be available over the course of the summer.
How much does a Disney+ subscription cost?
For subscribers in the UAE, the new service will cost Dh29.99 per month or Dh298.99 for an annual subscription. In Saudi Arabia, it will cost Saudi Arabian riyals 29.99 a month and Saudi Arabian riyals 298.99 a year, while in Egypt, the service will be priced at Egyptian pounds 49.99 a month and Egyptian pounds 498.99 per year.
How does a Disney+ subscription compare with other streaming services?
Subscription to Disney+ in the UAE works out at a similar price to a Netflix basic package, priced at Dh29. Amazon Prime, meanwhile, costs Dh16 per month, or Dh140 annually, and includes Amazon’s Prime delivery service for items bought on the Amazon shopping site. OSN+ charges Dh35 monthly, while an MBC Shahid VIP subscription usually costs Dh29.99 monthly, but is currently offering a half-price Ramadan offer for viewers who sign up for an annual subscription.
What shows can I watch on Disney+?
The new regional streaming service will be home to all the latest content and back catalogue from popular Disney brands including Disney itself, Pixar, Marvel, Star Wars, and National Geographic.
Subscribers will be able to watch Disney+ exclusives too, including the spin-offs The Book of Boba Fett and The Mandalorian from executive producer and writer Jon Favreau.
The Marvel Cinematic Universe is keeping viewers entertained on the service too, with existing favourites such as Loki and The Falcon and the Winter Soldier set to be joined by Moon Knight, starring Oscar Isaac and Egyptian-Palestinian actress May Calamawy, from Wednesday.
Subscribers will also be able to enjoy movies and animation from Disney and its subsidiary Pixar, including recent animated Oscar-nominees Luca, Encanto and Cruella, starring Emma Stone as Cruella de Vil.
Disney+ is also the first small-screen port of call for coming Disney cinema releases. During the height of the pandemic, the service released movies on the same day as they were out in cinemas. For 2020, however, Disney has announced it will be observing around a 45-day cinema window before it moves its latest releases to Disney+. That still means you’ll be able to watch coming films such as Lightyear and Black Panther: Wakanda Forever on the small screen here before anywhere else.
On a general entertainment front, subscribers will also be able to watch new titles such as the action-packed Free Guy, starring Ryan Reynolds, and old favourites from The Simpsons to Grey’s Anatomy. Fans of factual and educational content, meanwhile, can also exclusively access National Geographic shows, including the recent hit The World According to Jeff Goldblum, in which the star of Jurassic Park and The Fly takes us on an entertaining and insightful journey. In each episode of this 12-part series, he picks a deceptively familiar object, and unravels a world of astonishing connections and fascinating science and history.
More information is available at disneyplus.com