Is this the beginning of the end of Turkish dramas in the region?

A number of politicians have had plenty to say on the current political unrest in Egypt, which is not only having an impact on foreign policy and aid but bizarrely on the entertainment industry as well.

This week, it was announced that several Egyptian TV channels have boycotted all Turkish productions, in protest against prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s criticism of the Egyptian government. Television channels in the UAE could soon be following suit.

In Cairo, channels including Al-Hayat, Al-Nahar, and Al-Kahera Wal Nas responded to a call by the Egyptian Creativity Front to stop airing Turkish TV soaps, which have become widely popular in the Middle East.

In an interview with Al-Arabiya, Tarek Nour — the owner of Al-Kahera Wal Nas — justified the boycott, explaining that while programmes are usually produced privately and unrelated to the government, the ban could “put some pressure on Ankara”, highlighting how these soaps have helped Turkey lure more tourists from Egypt and the region. Even though he admitted he is losing revenue through cancelled advertisements, Nour said that the boycott will also result in “huge losses” for Turkey.

The media mogul could have a point: Turkey raked in $130m (Dh477.3 million)in foreign sales through their TV productions last year.

The UAE’s television channels had a mixed reaction. Earlier this week, Dubai TV had posted that Awdet Muhannad, the drama starring Kivanc Tatlitug, would no longer be showing. However, that was later replaced with a statement saying it would return in September.

tabloid!’s request for a statement by Dubai Media Incorporated – the owners of Dubai TV – was met with a firm “no comment”. In the capital, Abu Dhabi TV couldn’t be reached for comment.

As for satellite networks, UAE-based OSN, which shows plenty of top viewed shows, such as Hareem Al Sultan and Asmaytuha Fariha, also told tabloid! that they would prefer not to comment.

Saudi-owned MBC, which has a base in Dubai Media City, said that their schedule has no plans to change.

“The programming strategy for MBC Group’s bouquet of channels remains intact for the foreseeable future,” said MBC Group’s official spokesman, Mazen Hayek. “Our programming strategy is a result of a 12-18 month forward planning process, and is solely based on audience and commercial considerations.

“Viewer is the boss! What viewers watch, and how, where or when they watch it is up to them. Our commitment is to continue providing them with the best multimedia and multiplatform premium content bar none, across the whole MENA region. Putting the Arab world on the global ‘Media & Entertainment’ map is also one of our commitments.”