Lebanese jewellery designer Nadine Kanso, Kuwaiti influencer Dana Al Tuwarish and Egyptian marathon runner and mountaineer Manal Rostom. Image Credit: Supplied

‘Generation M.E.’, a three-part series airing on E! channel on OSN on December 23, will continue to highlight accomplished Arab women, a journey that began with ‘My Fabulous M.E.’ last year.

The Arabic-language series (with English subtitles) will spotlight nine trailblazing women from the Middle East, who are experts in the fields of fashion, entertainment, beauty, food and sports.

It will be hosted by Dana Al Tuwarish, a Kuwaiti influencer with 2 million followers on Instagram, and one of the six social media stars that appeared on ‘My Fabulous M.E.’ last year.

The down-to-earth influencer recalled what happened after a long day of shooting the first episode of the original series, and how it landed her a hosting gig on a new show the following year.

“While we were in the Four Seasons in Kuwait [filming ‘My Fabulous M.E.’], I suddenly started shouting and crying, ‘Get out!’ I was so tired. I said, ‘This field is not for me. This is not even who I am.’… The other five girls were millions of times more professional than me. They are so elegant,” said Al Tuwarish, with a laugh.

To Al Tuwarish’s surprise, however, she was contacted by OSN a year later about hosting ‘Generation M.E.’: “They said, ‘This is the personality that we want.’”

NINE STORIES

Over the course of three 30-minute episodes, which will air back-to-back and feature three women each, ‘Generation M.E.’ will spotlight beauty entrepreneur and TV personality Joelle Mardinian, Kuwaiti actress-director Haya Abdel Salem, Saudi Arabian fashion designer Arwa Al Banawi, Lebanese chef Tara Khatter, Egyptian marathon runner and mountaineer Manal Rostom, Lebanese jewellery designer Nadine Kanso, Kuwaiti photographer Djinane Al Suwayeh, Algerian supercar expert Hanan Mazouzi and Jordanian boxer Arifa Bseiso.

There are a lot of people here who don’t know me... I’ve been in this field for 12 years. This show is going to reach more people, and they’ll be able to see the ins and outs of my work and my story.

- Nadine Kanso, Jewellery designer

The show will give viewers a deeper understanding of these public figures.

“Manal Rostom got worldwide attention because of her Nike campaign, which involved her hijab, and I used to see the campaign on Instagram — but had I met her? Did I speak to her? Did people see what happened when she went out there with her hijab, and people attacked her? Through this show, Manal was able to explain what she did, how she got there, the pros and cons of the campaign and more,” said Al Tuwarish.

Rostom, a groundbreaking Egyptian athlete who grew up studying in English schools in Kuwait, wanted her appearance to inspire younger generations who might be watching, and who might not know what they want to be when they grow up.

“I grew up hating the way an Arab woman who wears hijab looks. I wanted to distance myself from the idea that I was Arab, because all the stuff that we grew up on in the media, it was the opposite of what we should have been growing up on,” said Rostom, who added that she went on to wear the hijab out of her own conviction.

“In the 21st century, there’s a wrong, stereotypical idea around hijabi women… hijabi women and non-hijabi women speak languages, they talk at international conferences, they play sports, they climb mountains, they run marathons around the world. The hijab is not an obstacle like we grew up thinking,” she said.

Kanso, whose jewellery line Bil Arabi (In Arabic) has gained popularity worldwide for its minimalist use of Arabic script, said ‘Generation M.E.’ is a platform to reach more people.

“There are a lot of people here who don’t know me. Or, maybe they will do an interview with me, and they only know a small part of what I’ve done. I’ve been in this field for 12 years. This show is going to reach more people, and they’ll be able to see the ins and outs of my work and my story,” said Kanso.

‘A SEA IN THE MEDIA’

Al Tuwarish was inspired by all nine of her guests, but had to give a special mention to Mardinian, a persevering public figure in the region.

“Joelle really caught my attention. She is a sea in the media; we grew up watching her. She’s my role model, to be honest. She got off a plane from London around 9am and came directly to the shoot. When I met her, she poured her heart, gave me her time, and did all she could to make the show the best it can be. I told her one thing — today, you inspired me, you taught me how to respect time, respect work, and to respect the opportunities that I get,” said Al Tuwarish.

The Kuwaiti influencer added that ‘Generation M.E.’ gave her a huge amount of self-confidence. And, despite having hordes of online followers, she was being introduced to many viewers for the first time.

“The audiences from television are different than the audiences from social media, and that’s something I didn’t know before. I thought people don’t watch TV anymore. I got a comment saying, ‘Dana, I’m watching you from Khartoum, I didn’t know who you were before.’ So now I have a new follower who saw me on TV. These two realms complement each other,” said Al Tuwarish.

Don’t miss it!

‘Generation M.E.’ will air at 10pm UAE time on December 23, and become available on demand on OSN thereafter.