Ramadan television programming will typically read like the who’s who of the Arabic acting world — and this year is no different. Though it’s impossible to predict which shows will hit, and which shows will sink (star power doesn’t necessarily mean staying power), we round-up ten dramas, comedies and political series to check out throughout the month.
Black Crows on MBC1
Directed by Hossam Rantissi, Hussain Shawkat and Adel Adib
Starring Rashid Al Shamrani, Dina, Dima Al Jundi, Samar Allam, Aziz Khayoun and Lisa Dabbas
Drama series Black Crows will explore the subject of extremism, with a focus on women. It has been touted as a bold socio-political series for its focus on terrorist organisation Daesh, and the tactics they employ to recruit young people. According to MBC, Black Crows will offer insights into how terrorist organisations prey on people’s psychological, social and behavioural weaknesses. The show will be based on true stories, and will break down the terrorist group’s “organisational structure and hierarchy of leadership”. Black Crows aims to promote education, awareness and prevention methods, as well as the true teachings of Islam.
Kan Fi Kol Zaman on MBC1
Directed by Said Al Hawari, Mohammad Al Kaffas and Saif Shaikh Najeeb
Starring Souad Abdullah, Farah Al Saraf, Zainab Gazi
Veteran actress Souad Abdullah stars in this drama, which is made up of separate but connected episodes — some of which are split into continuous parts. It deals with both the current state of Arab society, as well as its history. Abdullah embodies more than 10 personalities in the show, which she said was a large mental and physical undertaking.
Al Hirbaya on StarzPlay
Directed by Maryam Ahmadi
Starring Haifa Wehbe, Mahmoud Abdul Moghani, Dina, Menhather Rihanna
Singer and actress Haifa Wehbe stars in Al Hirbaya as a young woman, Asliya, who is forced to leave school in order to work as a maid in a wealthy home. The show, which follows her journey from the streets to high society, will tackle a sensitive issue as Asliya is raped by a rich man and kills him — but it’s still unclear in which direction the programme will go, or how they will address the grave issue.
Qasr Al Oshaq on StarzPlay
Directed by Ahmad Saqr
Starring Farouk Al Fishawy, Ezzat Al Alayly, Pousy and Wafa’a Amer
Egyptian actor Farouk Al Fishawy, a veteran of the small screen, will star in the drama series Qasr Al Oshaq. Here, audiences will hear a familiar story — Al Fishawy plays the role of a political prisoner who is caught up in a complex stand-off with a strict prison warden, played by fellow cinematic legend Ezzat Al Alayli. Interestingly, Omar Abdul Aziz was initially slated to direct the series, but he pulled out of the project and Ahmad Saqr stepped in.
Ramadan Kareem on Al Emarat Channel
Directed by Sameh Abdul Aziz
Starring Ruby, Sharif Salamah, Riham Abdul Ghafour, Mahmoud Al Jundi
A social drama, Ramadan Kareem follows the story and struggles of an Egyptian family during the holy month and focuses on brothers Ramadan and Kareem, as well as their lively neighbourhood and community. Ramadan is a simple employee whose daughter, Sana’a, refuses to accept her lower class socioeconomic status and blames her father for their rough life. Meanwhile, Kareem is a retiree who turns into an imam, always dishing out moral advice.
Harbana Menha on Alfa
Directed by Moataz Al Tony
Starring Yasmin Abdul Aziz, Mustafa Khater, Sami Maghawri, Fadya Abdul Gani, Ali Rabee, Salah Abdullah
Originally titled Ala Ra’i Al Mathal (As the Saying Goes), Harbana Menha (Running from Her) faced a lot of uncertainty during its creation. The comedy series allegedly suffered delays as directors and creators dropped out and dropped back in during development, though it finally took shape in time for Ramadan. Fans of lead actress Yasmin Abdul Aziz seem excited, if online comments on the trailer are anything to go by. The series, which deals with social issues and Egyptian society, centres around Abdul Aziz as the heroine, who often saves the day. Each episode is separate but connected.
Khatoun - Part 2 on Sharjah TV
Directed by Tamer Isaac
Starring Saloum Hadad, Salafa Momar, Karis Bshar, Yousuf Al Khal
A Syrian drama, Khatoun is a sequel set in the olden Levant neighbourhoods. It follows the love story between young Khatoun and Al Zebk, which persists despite the constant fights over power, leadership and revenge. Here, Al Zebk confronts the French occupier and leads the rebel in battle, resulting in a siege imposed on his people as punishment for their support. Khatoun breaks the siege to deliver supplies. Disaster ensues.
Kosem Sultan on OSN
Starring Beren Saat
Kosem Sultan, a spin-off of the ever-popular Turkish series Hareem Al Sultan, will air exclusively on OSN. It takes place in the early 17th century, 50 years after Sultan Sulaiman dies. In reality, Kosem Sultan was one of the most influential women in Ottoman history and held great power and political sway.
El Hisab Yigma’a on Alfa
Directed by Hani Khalifa and Mohammad Ali
Starring Yousra, Kareem Fahmi, Nada Mousa, Pousy
A woman in need of financial stability begins working as a domestic help, and later, starts her own domestic workers business. Through her career path, she uncovers the theft, treachery, exploitation and even murder that takes place at some of these households.
Orchidea – Abu Dhabi TV
It’s the new Syrian fantasy epic that everyone’s calling “the Arabic Game of Thrones”. Time will tell if Orchidea will have the same kind of cult fan base as the American HBO show, or say, Middle Eastern fan favourite Bab Al Hara. Filmed primarily in Romania and France, the big-budget show stars an impressive ensemble cast — Bassel Khayat, Jamal Suleiman and Salloum Hadad at the helm — and reportedly follows the story of war between three kingdoms inspired by Assyria, Egypt and Sumeira. Fanciful costumes, raging battles and intrigue lie ahead.