A Muslim-owned company in the Middle East is planning an epic movie project on Mohammad and his life – and is expecting to spend $1 billion getting it finished.

That’s the word from a report in Gulf News, an operation that was launched by United Arab Emirates businessman Abdullah Abulhoul. The site serves as a media portal now for the Al Nisr Group.

According to the report out of Manama, the project is being produced by Doha, Qatar, based Al Noor Holdings.

The announcement said the media company has confirmed endorsements from prominent Islamic scholars such as Yusuf al Qaradawi, the chief of the International Union of Muslim Scholars.

The movie is to be made in several parts and is to be “produced according to the highest international standards using the most sophisticated technical and audio-visual systems.”

Al Noor officials had confirmed earlier they were facing challenges because of the difficulty of correctly portraying Muhammad and his consorts while still observing Shariah.

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“This is why we have consulted many famous Islamic scholars … who will guide us on the Shariah aspect of the film,” Al Noor Holdings confirmed in a statement.

The price of the movie is perhaps the most unusual aspect. Although accounting in Hollywood makes it unclear exactly how much movie projects always cost, there are reports that Spider-Man 3 cost $258 million and two of the “Pirates of the Caribbean” projects, “Dead Man’s Chest” and “At World’s End” were made together and cost some $450 million.

Many Hollywood movies now are in the range of $100 million and the big projects cost $200 million.

One of the issues that had to be resolved was that the Islamic world disallows representations of Muhammad’s companions, but Al Qaradawi said he asked around.

“I have come to the conclusion that there was nothing wrong with showing the companions in dramatic work,” he told GulfNews. “There is no text or reference in the Quran or in the prophet’s tradition and sayings that does not allow it.”

Plans are for the movie to be made in English, but with translations to several other languages.

The American side of the Islamic world, embodied in the Council on American-Islamic Relations, said the project will hold special significance because it will address the negative impressions of Islam, the report said.

Nihad Awad of the Council on American-Islamic Relations said some 750 movies with negative messages about Islam or Mohammad were produced by Hollywood in the last decade.

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