Syrian dramas on air this Ramadan, all filmed in Damascus, are loaded with sublime messages of religious moderation intended for a pan-Arab audience, in addition to being good entertainment.
Three major 30-episode dramas are currently on air.
The first, “Al Asheq” tells the story of the Abbasid-era Sufi philosopher, Al Hallaj.
The second, “Maqamat Al Asheq,” is the tale of Muhiddine Ibn Arabi, the renowned Sufi mystic who lived in Damascus and is buried at the slopes of Mount Qassioun.
Both philosophers are ex-communicated by Daesh, considered heretics for their moderate views on religion.
The third work, Indama Tasheekh Al Zi’ab (When Wolves Age) is set in 1990 Damascus, telling the story of a Damascus-based preacher from the Muslim Brotherhood, delving into their secret underground and relations with Al Qaida in Afghanistan.
All three have been produced by the UAE in Syria.
The last work has struck a particularly raw nerve in Damascus, being the first of its kind to make reference to the 1982 confrontation between Syrian authorities and the Brotherhood.
Mustafa Ajjan, a drama critic based in Damascus said: “The series wanted to show the evils behind the Brotherhood. The show has a massive following and its message resonates strongly with Damascus residents.”
“Streets are empty when this show is on-air, at 8pm Damascus time. This means that the work is whipping up an impressive audience, and that its message is strongly felt in Damascus,” he added.
The Muslim Brotherhood, an outlawed organisation in Syria. The group is backed by Qatar and Turkey.
“Preaching moderate Islam is now a must, said celebrated Syrian actor Jalal Chammout, one of the stars of “Al Asheq” told Gulf News.
Syrians are well-equipped to promote moderate Islam due to their recent suffering from radical Islamists,” said Damascus-based producer Adel Abou Zahri.
“Radical Islam, as preached by the Brotherhood, is currently being combated in the Gulf through a multi-layered process, one of whose tools are television dramas.”
The UAE launched a charity-oriented initiative this Ramadan, distributing food to people in-need in Damascus.
Syria and the UAE re-established diplomatic relations last December, with the opening of the UAE Embassy in Damascus.
It had severed relations with Damascus amid its eight-year civil war due to the government’s crackdown on Syrian oppositon.
However, with the war winding down, the UAE is hoping to bring Syria back into the Arab fold as it confronts other threats such as the Muslim Brotherhood and Iran’s regional meddling.