A scene from Bab Al Hara. Image Credit: Supplied

Imagine a world where the best of Arabic television is broadcast all throughout the year, not just during Ramadan.

Producers in the region are notorious for saving their efforts and resources for the month with the highest viewership, but Khulud Abu Homos, the executive vice-president of programming and creative services, at pay TV network OSN, tells us that there’s been a definite shift towards year-round entertainment.

“The most important message is the fact that Ramadan is not to watch TV. Ramadan is a month for spirituality. See your mum, see your friends who you haven’t been seeing before,” she told tabloid!.

This mirrors one of OSN’s latest slogans, “Your Time is for Your Family”. The accompanying campaign consists of commercials that depict couples watching television during Ramadan, only to be interrupted by a star of a drama knocking on the screen mid-scene to urge them to tune in at another time, at their convenience.

Putting their money where their mouth is, OSN provides a service dubbed “Ramadan Ma Fatak TV”, or “Ramadan – You Haven’t Missed It TV”, which allows subscribers to watch over 20 Arabic shows on demand during Ramadan.

Back-to-back premieres

And when the month is up, Abu Homos said producers are finally realising the importance of creating content all year long.

“The number of shows that are being produced out[side] of Ramadan, at least the Gulf dramas, I didn’t [need to] repeat one show, since the start. I have premieres back-to-back.”

But that doesn’t change the fact that Ramadan is the ultimate time for small screen stars to shine. When it comes to choosing shows, Abu Homos said it all starts with a solid script, a trusted director and a convincing cast.

And this year, she added, Syrian dramas are back with a vengeance, knocking dubbed Turkish television shows off the roster.

“Although [with] the current situation, you would not expect it, but [Syrian dramas have come] back with vigorous production values, amazing storytelling, heart-touching stories,” she admitted.

On the other hand, fans of comedy will be met with a small offering of lighthearted shows in comparison to the popular tearjerkers.

“Comedy in the Middle East is the most difficult thing to produce, and all producers are going the easy way — drama,” said Abu Homos. “If you cried last night, you’ll remember what made you cry. But unfortunately, it’s difficult for you right now to tell me what’s the last joke you heard.”

Be it comedy, drama or educational, tabloid! rounds up some of the best television series to look out for this Ramadan.

 

Drama

 

Title: Al Ahed - Al Kalam Al Mobah

Synopsis: This drama mixes myth, fantasy and contemporary realism, as the great families of three villages vie for a monopoly rule. They battle for an influential “book” that resembles current constitutions; the winner will end up with the sought-after power. The show explores customs and traditions, and embodies the struggle for control.

Director: Khaid Marie

Actors: Gada Adel, Aser Yassine, Arwa Jawdeh, Hanaa Shiha, Sabba Mubarak

Airing on: MBC

 

Title: Cello

Summary: When a cellist and her husband, a pianist, face the demise of their joint life project, they’re offered an indecent proposal. Confronting conditions out of their control, they must make choices they don’t like. In this drama, music is instrumental, often provided by a live orchestra.

Director: Samer Al Barqawi

Actors: Taim Hassan, Nadine Nassib Njeim, Yousuf Al Khal, Carmen Lebbos

Airing on: MBC

 

Title: Bab Al Hara 7

Synopsis: In its seventh season, the show sees Motar, a Muslim, falling in love with Jewish girl, Sarah, creating friction.

Director: Azzam Fauq Al Ada

Actors: Abbas Noori, Sabah Al Jazeri, Ayman Zeidan, Wafa Mousali

Airing on: MBC

 

Title: Zakira Min Waraq

Synopsis: The series mixes mysteries of the past with riddles of the present, and explores brazen societal issues that revolve around Gulf students living in Berlin.

Director: Ali Al Ali

Actor: Shujoon Al Halajri, Fatima Al Safi, Ali Al Kakuli, Smood

Airing on: MBC

 

Title: Al Noor

Synopsis: Hadeel is a traditional woman, marrying a man chosen by her family. But something in her life flips the equation. Will she continue in the footsteps of arranged marriage? Or will she choose her own fate, in search of romance and love?

Director: Hamdan Al Rawaai

Actors: Haya Abdul Salam, Hamad Al Omani, Abdul Aziz Al Jasem

Airing on: MBC

 

Title: Orido Rajoulan (Season 2)

Synopsis: Based on a novel with the same title, this drama tackles one of the most sensitive issues a marriage can face: a second wife to bear a son when the first can’t. A conflict between pride and love takes this story from a happy home to the court, all under the relentless eyes of the media.

Actors: Eyad Nasser, Ahmad Abdul Aziz, Nabil Eisa, Dhaffer L’Abidine

Director: Mohammad Mustafa, Batoul Arafa

Airing on: OSN Ya Halla HD

 

Title: Fi Amal

Synopsis: Dreams and reality clash in this drama when a group of girls with larger-than-life hopes find out that wishes don’t necessarily come true for everybody. A tangled web of complicated relationships and mixed feelings manifest. Hope, love, and dreams versus despair, deceit and reality.

Actors: Latifa Al Megren, Zahrah Al Kharji, Jasem Al Nabhan, Basema Hamada

Director: Mohammad Daham Al Shammari

Airing on: OSN Ya Halla HD

 

Title: 24 Qirat

Synopsis: A diamond trader who gets shot and thrown in the sea is found by a simple girl who falls in love with him. Unbeknownst to her, he has a dark past that she’s rendered oblivious to, as he loses his memory in the accident. His wife must confront obstacles in order to find him, creating an unplanned love triangle.

Actors: Abed Fahed, Cyrine Abdul Noor, Maguy Bou Ghosn, Rasha Mahdi

Director: Laith Hijo

Airing on: OSN Ya Halla HD

 

Title: Zawaj Bel Ekrah (Season 1)

Synopsis: A father forces his HIV-positive daughter into a loveless marriage in an attempt to bring happiness into her life. Her husband-to-be must leave his fiance who he loves, only to be dragged into a dark world ruled by money and power.

Actors: Zeina, Ahmad Fahmi, Mohsin Mohie Al Dein, Sharif Ramzi

Director: Eman Al Haddad, Murad Mustafa

Airing on: OSN Ya Halla HD

 

Title: Al Boyout Asrar (Season 1)

Synopsis: The mysterious murder of a chef launches the story of his four housekeepers who he implicated in a mesh of complicated troubles. Secrets unfold and relationships collide, unravelling story after story.

Actors: Ayten Amer, Hana Sheha, Shereen Adel, Nesreen Emam

Director: Karim Al Adel

Airing on: OSN Ya Halla HD

 

Title: Bi Entizar Al Yasmine

Synopsis: A heartwarming drama that sheds light on the lives of a number of war victims and their daily struggles after they have lost everything. Each one of them is faced with their own demon, yet their wounded humanity brings them together, proving that life will always prevail.

Actors: Sulaf Fawakhirji, Shokran Mortga, Gassan Masoud, Ali Karim

Director: Samir Hussain

Airing on: OSN Ya Halla HD

 

Title: Hal Manayer

Synopsis: This Gulf social drama series highlights the eternal battle between good and evil through the eyes of a bitter woman who uses black magic to destroy whatever and whoever comes her way. A story about the grisly world of magic used to prove that revenge is a dish best served cold.

Actors: Hayat Al Fahad, Jasem Al Nabhan, Huda Al Khatib, Mashari Al Ballam

Director: Mounir Al Za’abi, Hena Shehata

Airing on: OSN Ya Halla HD

 

Title: Al Kaboos

Synopsis: This sad drama follows the story of a grieving mother who is trying to find the people who killed her son and avenge him. During her painful journey, she discovers that her bad upbringing shaped him into a self-centred, reckless, hated man with a wide circle of enemies.

Actors: Gada Abdul Razeq, Karim Mahmoud Abdul Aziz, Ahmad Rateb, Karim Qasim

Director: Islam Khairi

Airing on: OSN Ya Halla HD, Abu Dhabi TV

 

Title: Tareeqy

Synopsis: This Egyptian drama follows the story of a girl and her passion for singing after her dream is shut down by her controlling mother. She rebels and chases her life-long dream, only to discover that it’s not that easy when you are surrounded by people with secret agendas.

Actors: ShereenAbdul Wahab, Basil Khayat, Ahmad Fahmi, Susan Badr, Mahmoud Al Jundi

Director: Mohammad Shaker Khodeir

Airing on: OSN Ya Halla HD, Abu Dhabi TV

 

Title: Al Kabeer (Season 5)

Synopsis: In its 5th season, Al Kabeer comes back with more comedic storylines with the always entertaining actor Ahmad Mekky with his well-known, witty humour.

Actors: Ahmad Mekky, Hesham Esmail, Mohammad Salam, Said Tarabik

Director: Ahmad Al Jundi

Airing on: OSN Ya Halla HD

 

Title: Al Arrab – Nadi Al Sharq

Synopsis: This pan-Arab drama is an adaption of the ever-popular classic Hollywood film, The Godfather.

Actors: Jamal Sulaiman, Amal Bashousha, Bassem Yakhour, Maher Salibi

Director: Hatem Ali

Airing on: OSN Ya Halla HD, Abu Dhabi TV

 

Comedy

 

Title: Selfie

Synopsis: A satirical comedy that explores society in Saudi Arabia. With a balance between humour, occasional black comedy and a social message, Selfie attempts to touch upon and solve many a human issue that relates specifically to the Saudi community, and more generally to the Gulf and Arab region.

Director: Aws Al Sharqi

Actors: Nasser Al Gasabi, Khaled Sami, Abdulelah Al Senani, Haya Al Shuaibi

Airing on: MBC

 

Title: Shabih Al Rih

Synopsis: In this Emirati comedy, Yarouf, a weak-willed man living in Ras Al Khaimah, decides to go back to teaching — after a 15-year absence — when his father dies. But, upon striking the son of an influential man at the school, he finds himself fleeing to the strange area of Liwa to escape the consequences.

Actors: Juma Ali, Abdullah Zaid, Zariqa Al Tarish, Ahmad Al Jasmi, Habib Ghaloum

Director: Batel Sulaiman

Airing on: Abu Dhabi TV

 

Title: Harish Wa Warish

Synopsis: In this Kuwaiti comedy, Harish and Warish are two brothers, one courageous and humble, the other rash and pompous, who return from a trip to China where they were to learn martial arts by request of their father, and wind up exploring a small, traditional town, seeking something special.

Actors: Abdul Nasir Darwish, Hassan Al Balam, Bilal Abdullah, Fawez Al Shatti, Mais Kamar

Director: Hassan Al Balam

Airing on: Abu Dhabi TV

 

Title: Donia

Synopsis: In this Syrian comedy, a simple Syrian girl — overly curious and prone to gossip — leaves her village to Damascus where she works as a housekeeper, hoping to earn enough to take back the land that was stolen from her by her older brother.

Actors: Amal Arafa

Created by: Amal Arafa

Airing on: Abu Dhabi TV

 

Religious and educational

 

Title: The Talk of Spirit (Hadith Al Rouh)

Synopsis: A religious programme prepared and presented by Dr Ebrahim Al Duwaish from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia that deals with various religious, social and daily life topics in a brief, inspirational manner. Topics addressed in the programme include: Friendship, Behaving like a Child and the Art of Behaving Stupid, Stimulation and Encouragement, the Holy Prophet (PBUH), Marital Disputes and Talking Animals.

Airing on: Sharjah TV

 

Title: A Story of the Prophet’s Companions (Qisat Sahabi)

Synopsis: A programme that introduces the Prophet’s (PBUH) companions (may peace and blessings be upon them) and presents their virtues, qualities, prestige and esteem, which made them worthy of being role models to Muslims, and made people not only admire them but follow in their footsteps.

Airing on: Sharjah TV

 

Title: The Spirit of the Leader (Rouh Al Qaeed)

Synopsis: A programme presented by Shaikh Dr Abdul Aziz Bin Ali Bin Rashid Al Nuaimi, who describes the concepts and qualities that a leader must possess and shares personal experiences as lessons for the viewer in order to create progress in his or her community.

Airing on: Sharjah TV

 

Title: Most Magnificent Mosques in the World (Ajmal Masajid Al Aalam)

Synopsis: A cultural and religious programme that highlights the aesthetics of Islamic architecture and different types of Islamic architecture in mosques around the world.

Airing on: Sharjah TV

 

Title: Thoughts 11 (Khawater 11)

Synopsis: A programme based on the saying “and settled you therein”, and an inspiration for every member of the community to make the Earth a better place for future generations. It is a call for inhabitants of the Earth to build, develop and revive the world around them rather than give in to depletion, pollution and devastation.

Airing on: Sharjah TV

 

Title: Not Sorry For The Inconvenience Caused (La Naasaf Ala Izaj)

Synopsis: A programme that talks about prayers in a new way based on Ahmad Khairi Al Omari’s famous book Chemistry of Prayer.