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MBC drops all Turkish programmes

Decision marks end of allowing Turkey to exercise its soft power across Arab world, reports say

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Gulf News

Dubai: Dubai-based Middle East Broadcasting Corporation (MBC) has reportedly removed all Turkish dramas from its channels.

No official statement has been issued yet by the pan-Arab broadcaster, but reports attributed the move to a decision “to put an end to the use of soft power to promote the image and beauty of Turkey in Arab homes since Ankara is not reciprocating and is embracing policies that are not necessarily in the interest of the Arab region.”

Turkish soap operas and dramas have become hugely popular across the Arab world since 2008 when MBC broadcast “Noor”, the Arabic name for Gümüş (Silver), the melodrama broadcast in Turkey from 2005 to 2007.

MBC bought the Turkish drama and, instead of dubbing it in the ceremonial standard Arabic, as had been the case for years, rendered it into Syrian Arabic, a dialect easily understood by ordinary Arabs from Morocco to Oman. It was an instant smash hit that took the Arab world by storm. The last two episodes of the series on August 30, 2008 reportedly drew 85 million Arab viewers.

The dizzying success prompted other Arabic-speaking channels to purchase Turkish dramas and the subsequent wildly popular cultural phenomenon across the Middle East contributed to Istanbul in particular and Turkey in general turning into a favourite tourism destination.

Several Arab singers insisted on having their song video clips filmed in Turkey’s serene and spectacular settings.

Producers attributed the Arab fascination, particularly among women, to the way the operas showed how Turkish women handled modernity and modern lifestyles.

The Turks promptly capitalised on the effectiveness of soap operas in changing attitudes by Arabs towards their country and in causing potent viewer identification with Muslim characters.

State-owned Turkish Radio and Television launched an Arabic-speaking channel in 2009 to reach out to the Arab world.

The number of Gulf citizens went up from 110,000 in 2008 to 1.3 million in 2017.

Last year, Turkish former ambassador to Bahrain Hatun Demirer said that the number of Bahraini tourists who visited Turkey had increased from 3,155 in 2004 to 41,505 in 2016.

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