We look at the biggest shows coming to our screens this Ramadan.
Our pick of the best TV this Ramadan
Traditionally Ramadan is the month where local regional television channels unleash their big guns. Leading broadcasters such as Abu Dhabi TV, MBC and OSN are premiering new dramas in addition to bringing back old favourites. we take a look at some of the key shows screening throughout the Holy Month
Ya Malikan Qalbi (Abu Dhabi Al Emarat)
Starring: Fayez Al Saeed and Shatha Hassoun
What it is: The series looks at the dynamics of UAE society through the lives of three characters. Each story runs in parallel before intersecting and heading towards an unexpected conclusion. The series is led by two pop stars, the Emirati singer Fayez Al Saeed in his acting debut and the Moroccan-Iraqi Shatha Hassoun. Behind the camera is the Syrian director Aref Al Taweel.
Why watch it: To see if Saeed has as much acting chops as singing talent. Plus, Hassoun returns to Ramadan television with her biggest role yet. She last appeared during the Holy Month on the Iraqi drama Rasael Men Ragol Mayet (Letters from a Dead Man) on Al-Baghdadia TV in 2008.
Zamal Lawal (Abu Dhabi Al Emarat)
Starring: Ghanem Al Sulaiti and Samira Ahmed
What it is: Based in the UAE in the 1970s, the family drama sheds light on the nation before the booming oil production and the skyscrapers. The show follows the relationship of Ghanem and Al Anoud, old friends reunited by years of separation. They look back on their youth and reflect on lessons learnt.
Why watch it: For a welcome insight into what is already deemed as the old UAE. The programme features detailed sets evoking a country on the cusp of reaching its potential.
Nekdeb La Olna Man Bnhebesh (Abu Dhabi Al Oula)
Starring: Yousra and Moustapha Fahmy
What it is: The Egyptian starlet Yousra heads this anticipated social drama. The plot revolves around the plight of a divorced mother who travels to Lebanon to undergo plastic surgery. Her stunning new looks become the talk of the town.
Why watch it: Yousra commands a dedicated fan base. The 58-year-old diva has been a mainstay on Arab television and cinema since the 1980s.
Abou Al Malayeen (MBC1)
Starring: Nasser Al Qasabi and Abdel Hussein Abdel Raida
What it is: Ramadan television is known for bringing plenty of laughs, something achieved effortlessly by Nasser Al Qasabi. The Saudi comic and Arabs’ Got Talent judge stars as a luckless vet living in Dubai. Teaming with his paranoid and rich brother, the duo go on to rebuild their relationship to comic effect.
Why watch it: To see Al Qasabi in his natural element after playing it too straight as a judge on Arabs’ Got Talent.
Al Arraf (MBC1)
Starring: Adel Emam, Hussein Fahmy and Talaat Zakaria
What it is: The Egyptian comic legend Adel Emam stars as a professional con man in search of the perfect score. To get the loot, he disguises himself as various characters including a police detective, a businessman, a famous doctor and a government ambassador.
Why watch it: Emam is not slowing down. The 73-year-old remains a huge television draw with his expert blend of outrageous antics and droll humour.
Hareem Al Sultan, Season 3 (OSN Yahala HD)
Starring: Halit Ergenç and Meryem Uzerli
What it is: Known as Muhteshem Yüzyil (Magnificent Century) in Turkey, the Arabic-dubbed and English-subtitled period drama has been a hit across the region since its premiere in 2011. The lush series is based on the reign of the Ottoman Empire’s longest serving sultan, Suleiman the Magnificent, and his relationship with his wife Hürrem Sultan, a slave girl who went on to become a sultana.
Why watch it: It’s the drama everyone’s talking about and easily the best in terms of production values. English-speaking viewers can also enjoy the rare opportunity of watching a Turkish drama and discover why it has become a fan favourite across the region. The series runs Saturday to Wednesday at 11pm.
Khawater 9 (MBC1)
Host: Ahmad Al Shugairi
What it is: A mix of current affairs and travelogue. The popular Saudi media personality Al Shugairi hits the road once again to find out how different communities deal with contemporary issues. This season he travels across the UAE, Egypt, Europe, the US, Brazil and Japan to examine traffic jams, corruption, museums and coffee-making.
Why watch it: Al Shugairi is well-respected among the region’s youth. Khawater has been credited for raising awareness of neglected issues such as sustainability in Saudi Arabia.
Adam Wa Jamilia (OSN Yahala Shabab HD)
Starring: Hassan Raddad and Yousra Al Louzy
What it is: A melodrama following the Egyptian couple Adam and Jamila. Despite their best intentions to start a family together, societal and economic pressures continue to get in the way.
Why watch it: Egypt’s standing as the leading purveyor of television drama has recently been usurped by glitzy productions from Turkey. Adam Wa Jamila is part of the Egyptian comeback with a series starring two charismatic leads and issues rooted in current circumstances. The series runs daily at 11pm.
Shaabiat Al Cartoon (Sama Dubai)
Series creator: Haidar Mohammed
What it is: One of the UAE’s most popular Ramadan offerings. The series follows the antics of the Dubai resident Shambee and the shambolic Bedouin Bo Mhayer. The former is always looking for respect while the latter is bemused by the urban development around him.
Why watch it: The series is full of sharp plots focusing on different aspects of UAE life. The voice actors do a great job with pitch-perfect renderings of a range of accents including Egyptian and Sudanese.
(OSN First HD)
Starring: Jeff Daniels, Emily Mortimer and Sam Waterson
What it is: In Aaron Sorkin’s latest drama, back for a much-anticipated new series, we follow the News Night staff in their quest to produce a hard-hitting current affairs show.
Why watch it: The first season was equally loved and derided. The programme reportedly underwent a creative overhaul, with Sorkin once again writing nearly all of the scripts.
Ramadan is a bumper business period for the Arab television industry. This is why most channels reveal screening times of marquee shows on the day before or the first day of the Holy Month, to keep the competition guessing. Keep checking the broadcaster’s website or tune in to the channel for announcements of screening times.
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