Given the success of Syriana and the ubiquity of the Middle East in the news, it's no surprise that big studios have recently acquired a pair of projects set in that region. Oddly, Ridley Scott's fingerprints (as well as those of novelist David Ignatius) are all over both of them. The first - described by Variety as "a high priority for [Paramount]" - is The Invisible World, which Scott will direct. The film is based on a treatment by Ignatius which grew into Dana Stevens' screenplay and may prove to be a bit touchy, given that its story revolves around the kidnapping of a female journalist in Iraq.

The second project is in Warner Brothers' hands, and is at a much earlier stage of development. The studio has acquired the rights to Penetration, a novel by Ignatius about "a CIA operative's attempt to track a high-ranking terrorist in Jordan." The hope at Warners is that Scott will direct the film, once a screenplay is completed.