MBC announced yesterday what it called the biggest quiz show of its kind in the Arab world, with 240 participants from 12 Arab countries and a hefty $1 million (Dh3.67 million) grand prize, half of which will be dedicated to a charity of the winning team's choice.

The Arabic version of Test the Nation, hosted by the renowned television personality George Kordahi, is a revamped version of the quiz show that has been made popular in various countries such as France, the United States and Australia.

The groups

Test the Nations, which will launch at 10.30pm on November 1, will be a competition between 12 teams of 20 men and women, each representing one Arab country.

Two groups of six countries will compete, with group A consisting of Algeria, Bahrain, Lebanon, Morocco, Saudi Arabia and Syria, and group B consisting of Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Palestine and the UAE.

By the tenth episode, six of the weakest teams would have been eliminated. After that, one team will be eliminated in every episode from then on.

The winning team will also be awarded with a "World Trophy of Knowledge".

According to Kordahi, the new show was an example of rare Arab cooperation.

"We are always told that the Arabs can't unite on anything. Here we've proven to you that the Arabs have united in culture and intellect", he said.

He said that "just like in a sports team", a loss for one team does not reflect to a loss for the country it represents, adding that he was pleased to see teams celebrating each other's successes during the seven rounds that have been filmed so far.

Arab celebs

According to him, the quiz show, called Al Tahaddi, "has been developed into a competition between Arab countries" which will also feature Arabic celebrities such as Lebanese singer Nawal Al Zughbi, Egyptian singer Hisham Abbas and popular Kuwaiti actress Hayat Al Fahad.

Kordahi rose to fame through the Arabic version of the popular American quiz show Who Wants to be a Millionaire, which he became known for hosting with enthusiasm and wit.

He said, however, that the new show would be different from Who Wants to be a Millionaire "in that it is a competition in which 240 people participate, as opposed to one" as well as the fact that the prize of 1 million would be in dollars, not Saudi Rials, as was the case in the former show he hosted.

"As for me, don't expect me to change. I'm going to be exactly the same", he said.

The beginnings

Having initially started in the Netherlands, the format of Test the Nation has been used in the United States, Australia, Japan and Ireland.

Popular in the UK, the show has been hosted by the infamous Anne Robinson of The Weakest Link since 2002.

The show was started by the BBC in the UK to test the intelligence of Britons through a studio competition between participants and the participation of a television audience through SMS and the internet.

Designed to test the intelligence of its audience, each round of the show is dedicated to a specific category of questions, such as IQ, general knowledge and science.

In the United Kingdom, studio participants have been split into professional categories such as fashion models, scientists and blue collar workers.