During the month of Ramadan work schedules are cut by two hours in the UAE, and once iftar is over, friends and family often gather around the TV to catch the latest and hottest series launched specifically for this time. Even if you don’t stay at home, chances are you will find big screens in every cafe or Ramadan tent.
According to market researchers IPSOS, the first two weeks of Ramadan 2011 saw television figures rise across the Middle East by 30 per cent, with as many as 100 Arab and Khaleeji soap operas and shows broadcast on state and private channels.
Osama Jamal, managing director of Starcom Egypt, a media placement firm, once famously said: “We call it a Super Bowl every hour, every night,” referring to the American football league championship, considered the most watched television event in the world.
Television ratings remain high well into the night with ad breaks filled by big commercials. Insiders says the cost of a 30-second spot during peak Ramadan viewing hours can reach more than double the normal rate.
Khulud Abu Homos, the senior vice-president of programming at OSN YaHala! HD said: “This Ramadan, our focus has been to create not just the best shows, but an exclusive content proposition for our customers and to achieve this, we have left no stone unturned. We understand that viewers have different preferences and we have kept this in mind when putting together our programming so there’s something for everyone.”
But it’s not all about entertainment. Religious content is also an important element, he added. “For those looking for more spiritual guidance and content we will showcase a series of documentaries. Religious content is extremely important, especially during the holy month, and this show is packaged to appeal across all age segments especially the youth.”
tabloid! brings you a rundown of the shows some of the UAE’s most popular channels will be airing.
FERKAT NAGY ATTALLAH
Following a long absence from the small screen, Adel Imam makes his big TV comeback with the hotly anticipated Ferkat Nagy Attallah. Directed by his son Rami Imam, and starring his other son Mohammad along with stars Anushka, Ahmad Al Sa’adani, Amr Ramzi and Nedal Al Shafe’ei, the series features
Imam as a retired officer who worked at the Egyptian embassy in Tel Aviv, who then trains a former military group to undertake a complicated operation. The series is not political, but does touch on the state of Egyptian-Israeli relations through comedic scenes.
Showing on: MBC and Al Hayat TV
Written by Layla Abdul Aziz Al Hilali, Molhaa Banat stars Haifa Hussain, Najwa Kubaisi, Ruwaili Mason, Almas and Wiam Al Dahmani as five girls who live in Riyadh. Despite coming from different social classes and backgrounds, the girls form a strong friendship thanks to the one thing they have in common.
Yousra’s back! The Egyptian superstar takes on the role of Sharbat, who remains unmarried until her forties after dedicating her life to her younger siblings. However, it all changes when she meets a sexy designer, played by Tamer Hagras.
Starring Khaleeji superstars Huda Hussain, Mona Shaddad and Mariam Al Salah, Heleft Omry revolves around the topic of divorce in Arab societies, particularly in the Gulf.
Based on the best-selling novel by Ahmad Murad, Vertigo stars Tunisian actress Hind Sabry as a photographer who discovers a murder by chance and attempts to solve its mystery.
Showing on: Dubai TV and Al Hayat TV
Yahya Al Fakharani plays Abdul Kader, a foreign archaeologist who lives in Egypt, and likes nothing more than having a drink and a smoke after a long, hard day’s work. However, he decides to change around his life after falling for an Egyptian, Muslim girl. The series is set around 1882, when the Anglo-Egyptian War occurred between Egyptian and Sudanese forces.
Showing on: MBC and Al Hayat TV
Marking the return of Ahmad Al Sakka to the small screen is Khotoot Hamra, which also stars Ahmad Rizk and Salah Ahmad Al Sa’adani. Here the actors take on the role of three different characters — one obsessed with religion, the other trying to achieve worldly good, and the third lost in a number of social problems.
Consisting of three parts — one set in 1945, another set in 1975, and the final part of the series set in 2005 — Sedna Al Sayed follows the story of Fadhloun Ganara, played by Syrian actor Jamal Sulaiman.
Showing on: Dubai TV and Melody
This Khaleeji series stars Hayat Al Fahd as a woman who tackles day-to-day difficulties in life with a smile, and tries to see the best in people. But will her actions reap rewards? Showing on: MBC
This social comedy, which is set in the UAE, stars Jaber Nogmoosh and Ahmad Al Ansari, and features 30 independent episodes, each tackling a different issue affecting Emiratis. Tmach 4 delves deep into the issues that affect people of the UAE in a light-hearted fashion.
BATH BAYAKHA - SEASON TWO
The second season of the hit Jordanian comedy starring Wissam Tbeleh and Rami Dalshat kicks off this Ramadan. The series celebrates local Arab culture through a series of sketches of different genres and formats.
Daily, 7.30pm on OSN Yahala! HD
VARIETY/ ENTERTAINMENT SISTERS’ SOUP
If you have seen the promos for this show on OSN YaHala! HD, chances are you thought it was the Arab version of Keeping Up With the Kardashians. After all, actress Mais and newcomer Dana Hamdan, as well as singer Mai Selim (nope, we have no clue as to why she chose a different surname) all look like they’re trying to dress (unsuccessfully) like Kim, Khloe and Kourtney. Thankfully, it turns out that Sisters’ Soup is an OSN production currently being filmed in Lebanon, with the sisters hosting a different
guest everyday. Loks similar to OSN’s other hit series, Sola.
Starts July 26. Thursdays, 11pm on OSN Yahala! HD
Remember Muna Abdul Wahab? Last year, the Egyptian newcomer made a name for herself after pretending to be an Israeli presenter, and fooling Arab celebrities into thinking they had been tricked into appearing on an Israeli show. Now the presenter is back with Al Ghish Mamnoua, where she takes her celebrity guests back to school, places them on the hot seat in her classroom-style set and puts them through an exam of their lifetime. Guests include former Egyptian presidential candidate Hamdeen Sabahy and novelist Nawal Al Sa’adawi.
Starts July 26. Thursdays, 9pm on OSN YaHala! HD and Al Hayat TV
Returning to our screens this season is the UAE-produced musical, Hindistani. Set in the magical fantasy world of Badr in India, Season Two returns with new songs, new locations and additional cast members.
Showing on: OSN YaHala! HD and Al Hayat TV
YAMAK AHMET (TABAKH AL SULTAN)
Ever since Nour made it onto our television screens, the Arab world has been hooked on Turkish drama, and several years later, the region’s obsession shows no sign of diminishing. Now jumping on the bandwagon seems to be the country’s cookery programme genre thanks to the phenomenally successful historical series Hareem Al Sultan — which is currently airing and is in its second season. Yamak Ahmet (or Tabakh Al Sultan) features Yamak — the famous chef who prepares feasts for the Hareem series — as he prepares dishes and shares his recipes, while taking viewers to the early Ottoman days to experience the fascinating life and magic of Ramadan during that era.
Saturday to Thursday. 9pm on OSN YaHala! HD
Chef Osama Al Sayed returns to provide an amazing selection of recipes you can follow and prepare for iftar.
Set in old Damascus, this cookery show with a twist will have you laughing throughout thanks to its allfemale cast. At the end of each show, the four ladies — including characters played by Wafa Mousali and Marah Jaber — get together and prepare mouth-watering delicacies from the Levant.
Daily 8pm on OSN YaHala! HD
Chefs Yousuf Khumayes and Hani Zain are not your typical chefs from the Gulf — they rap while cooking, joke around in the kitchen, and are generally all about having a good time. This is why Saudi Chefs will probably gain a good following for its debut this Ramadan. Catch the duo demonstrating their passion for food in their own unique style along with nutritionist Lama Sultan.
Daily 2pm on OSN YaHala! HD
OMAR SANAA AL HADARA
Presented by Islamic scholar Amr Khalid, this show focuses on the life of the Caliph, Omar Ibn Al Khattab.
Produced and hosted by Ahmad Al Shakeri, Khawater 8 explores the importance of charity work and volunteering and how little changes can make a huge difference to people’s lives. The programme also follows groups of youths as they take part in volunteering assignments.
This programme addresses the day-to-day issues that confront young Muslims — everything from social topics to cultural differences — thus educating them on the best conduct for the modern Muslim. This is a mustsee if you are keen to focus on your spirituality this Ramadan, or even if you are from a different faith and would like to learn more about Islam.
Daily 7pm on OSN YaHala! HD and Al Hayat TV