Soap operas on Arab Spring garner attention

The most popular shows aired in 2013 were centered on the Arab Spring

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The year just gone by has been a lackluster time for Arab soap operas. But, despite the disappointing performance, there were several political soaps that garnered attention in the region.

Al-Riyadh Arabic daily summarized the most important shows to be shown in the Arab world.

The most popular shows aired in 2013 were centered on the Arab Spring, its causes, outcomes and effects. Surprisingly, Egypt and Syria were in the forefront as far as Arab spring soap operas were concerned despite the turmoil engulfing both the nations.

Last Ramadan, several soap operas were aired, the most important being “Hot Wave” (Mowjah Harrah) that traced the events leading to the Jan. 25 Egyptian revolution. Also, the serial “On the Precipice” (Ala Kaff Ifreet) with Khaled Al-Sawi as the main character, centered around influential officials in Egypt following the ouster of Hosni Mubarak’s regime. “Underground” (Tahat Al-Ardh) exposed the role that Egyptian security forced played before the revolution in several operations that created social upheaval.

In “Godfather” (Al-Arraf), actor Adel Imam is shown benefiting from the outbreak of the revolution by plotting his escape from jail and subsequent exploitation of the collapse of the state security apparatus to carry out one of the biggest scams in the country.

Brotherhood mocked

Actress Ilham Shaheen presented a mocking view of the rule of the Muslim Brotherhood through her role as an employee in a mental hospital. As for religious discourse, the serial “The Religious Caller” (Al-Da’iyah) by Hani Salamah, touched on the topic of extremism and “Khalafallah” starring actor Noor Al-Shareef, centered around a sheikh who treats people. He eventually gains a following believing the sheikh has extraordinary powers.

Syrian uprising

In “Live Coverage” (Taht Al-Hawa), viewers are taken to a broadcasting station where employees’ personal stances on the revolution and political loyalties affect their coverage of events going on across the country. In the hugely-controversial and pro-government serial “The Podium of the Dead” (Al-Wiladah Min Al-Khassirah: Minbar Al-Mawtaa), actors Qussay Khouli and Abed Fahd, portray events that led to the uprising. The serial’s main message was that the revolution is a mere crisis that can pass if the state remains intact.

Joining forces

Kuwaiti star Hussein Abdul Ridha and Saudi actor Nasser Al-Qassabi joined forces in the serial “The Millionaire” which was shown on MBC TV. Even though the serial had a large following, it was criticized for having a weak plot. The serial narrates the story of two brothers — a Kuwaiti and a Saudi, who live a life centered around money in Dubai.

Breaking a near 20-year hiatus, Suaad Abdullah and Hayat Al-Fahd appeared together in “Our Father’s House” (Al-Bait Aboona). The last show that brought the two actresses together was the comedy soap opera “Sulaiman Al-Tayib” in the 1990s that discussed many social issues.

The year 2013 was also a sad period for Arab cinema, which saw the death of Egyptian actor Jamal Ismail and Syrian actors Saleem Kallas and Nidhal Sejri.

This article was first published on the Saudi Gazette on Jan 11, 2014.

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