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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 18 February 2019

Get with the programmes: 20 Arabic TV shows to watch during Ramadan

It’s the biggest time of the year for Arabian television, as local and regional broadcasters prepare to unveil new shows and bring back old favourites. Expect big-budget soap operas, star-studded dramas, regional sitcoms, game-show extravaganzas and spiritual discussions, with heavyweights including Abu Dhabi TV, MBC, OSN, Dubai TV and Sharjah TV leading the pack. Hala Khalaf selects 20 of the most intriguing shows set to take over our TV screens during the 30 days of Ramadan.

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Drama

Khiyanat Watan Min Riwayat Ritaj

Abu Dhabi TV

This Gulf drama – which translates as The Betrayal of a Country as told by Retaj’s Stories – features Kuwaiti actor Jasim Al Nabhan, Bahraini actress Haifa Hussein and Emirati actor and director Habib Ghaloom. It focuses on Retaj, a young woman who is forced to look after her ailing father, and finds herself in a downward spiral of love and secret organisations.

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Drama

Wunoos

Al Emarat

Expect a lot of intense drama in this Egyptian series about Wunoos, a man with good looks, irresistible charisma and uncanny intelligence. Young couple Ibrahim and Inshirah are unable to resist welcoming him into their home, but the consequences prove to be unimaginable. A tale of love, passion, money and heartache, this is Egyptian drama at its best. Starring heavyweight actors Yehia El Fakharany and Hala Sedki.

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Drama

Younes Weld Fadda

MBC

Younes, Son of Fadda is an Egyptian drama starring relative newcomers Amr Saad, Reham Haggag and Heba Magdy. Ten-year-old Ibrahim runs away from home after committing an honour crime in defence of his sister. Fadda, a strong-willed woman who has lost her son and husband, finds him and raises him, renaming him Younes. Set in the heart of Upper Egypt in the traditional communities of Al Said, the show examines the effects of modern times, technology and social media on local culture.

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Drama

Saq Al Bamboo

Dubai TV, Sharjah TV, MBC

The drama Saq Al Bamboo (The Bamboo Stalk) is based on the novel of the same name by Kuwaiti author Saud Alsanousi, which won the 2013 International Prize for Arabic Fiction. Starring UAE-based comedian and TV personality Wonho Chung and an impressive cast of talent from the Gulf, including Kuwaiti actress Souad Abdullah, the series tells the story of half-Kuwaiti, half-Filipino Isa José, who is torn between his social, cultural and religious conflicts.

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Drama

Al Khanka

OSN

This Egyptian series, the title of which loosely translates as “a feeling of suffocation”, takes a look at the difficulties of a woman’s journey to the top in a male-dominated society. After struggling with sexual harassment her entire adult life, a woman is caught up in an accidental murder, when she finally decides to stand up for herself. Will a claim of mental illness help her defence team prove her innocence? Starring Ghada Abdul Razik.

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Drama

El Mizan

OSN, CBC

Another Egyptian production, El Mizan (The Balance) is about a young attorney – who has never lost a case – working with her investigator husband to save a famous businessman sentenced to death after he was convicted of murdering his actress wife. Starring Egyptian actress Ghada Adel and popular Syrian actor Basel Khayat.

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Drama

Grand Hotel

Abu Dhabi TV

A mysterious, secretive world lies behind the doors of the Grand Hotel where multi-billion-dollar business deals are made, secret rendezvous are planned, guests conspire and murders are covered up. Set in the 1950s, the series stars Egyptian actor Amr Yousef.

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Drama

Bayyat Al Nakhy

OSN

A controversial, heartbreaking drama from the Gulf written by and starring celebrated Kuwaiti actress Hayat Al Fahed. She plays a woman who risks everything and courts tragedy by choosing to leave her husband and children to marry the long-lost love of her life, only to watch him marry another when she is unable to give him a child. Abandoned, she resorts to selling vegetables on the street, hence the title of the series: The Vegetable Seller. Will she ever be reunited with her children and can they forgive her?

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Drama

Samarkand

Abu Dhabi TV

A historical drama on an epic scale, Samarkand is filled with juicy tales of sultans and their servants in the Samarkand court. Based on the 1988 historical fiction novel of the same name by French-Lebanese author Amin Maalouf, the story revolves around the life and adventures of 11th-century Persian poet and philosopher Omar Al Khayyam. It features Syrian star Abed Fahd and Lebanese actor Youssef El Khal.

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Drama

Madraset Al Hob 2

OSN

Love and romance continue to be the leading themes in season two of pan-Arab drama Madraset Al Hob (The School of Love), which is narrated by love guru and Iraqi pop star Kadhim Al Sahir. True-life stories on love in many forms – the love of a parent for a child, the love of a patriot for his country, the love of a cause, or a dream just out of reach – are performed by a star-studded ensemble cast from across the Arab world, including Amal Arafa, Bassem Yakhour, Basel Khayat and Mostafa Fahmi.

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Comedy

Tawareed

Abu Dhabi TV

Set in the Al Tawareed Bedouin community in Syria, this series offers 30 hilarious episodes featuring the antics of Khalaf and Mihwash, brothers who are competing for the hand of Wadha. She, however, has a way with the sword, and declares she will only marry someone who can defeat her in battle.

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Comedy

Ash-hafan Al Qatu

Drama Channel

Back for another season, this Emirati cartoon promises constant laughs while delivering a satirical comment on society. The titular character, Ash-hafan, is selfish and miserly as ever, and his bad qualities continue to affect his relationships. Will he ever learn to put others before himself?

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The spiritual

Awnak 2

Abu Dhabi TV

The efforts, aid programmes and initiatives of the UAE’s Red Crescent Authority around the world will continue to be showcased in this moving series, hosted by Emirati personality and local news correspondent Ahmad Al Yamahi. Awnak (Your Help) will examine the true meaning of sacrifice and charity, what it means to stand by our fellow men and women, and how much good comes out of wanting the same happiness for others as you would for yourself.

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The spiritual

Min Raheeq Al Iman

Abu Dhabi TV

Using logical, subjective reasoning, Min Raheeq Al Iman (Nectar of Faith) will analyse, clarify and explain issues relating to Islam. Broadcast live and presented by media personality Wasim Yousef, the programme aims to make sure viewers understand that there are no stupid questions, and that there is no need to resort to emotions to find answers.

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The spiritual

Qumra

(MBC)

Well known as the host for nine seasons of the popular Islamic awareness, current affairs and travelogue show Khawater, Ahmad Al Shugairi returns this year with new show Qumra or Cockpit. Aimed at youths, the show is part commentary and part competition. It promises to shed light on the social issues young Muslims face in modern times. Viewers can take part by sending in videos of their own opinions and questions. The competition details will be revealed when the show begins.

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Old favourites

Duroob

Abu Dhabi TV

Emirati personality Ali Al Saloom returns with season three of his daily travel show. Al Saloom, whose weekly Ask Ali column is published in The National’s Weekend section every Friday, journeys around the world, highlighting a range of cultures and showing how our similarities far outweigh our differences.

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Old favourites

Bab El Hara

MBC

The much-loved Syrian drama returns for an eighth season, with Syrian star Abbas Al Nouri as patriarch Abu Issam. The show continues to explore the many layers of Damascene society during the mid-1900s, when religious extremism begins to clash with a growing, secular mindset. Religious moderation is introduced alongside new characters, and the women’s movement that took part in demonstrations calling for Syria’s independence from French occupation, is now working towards women’s liberation.

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Old favourites

Shaabiat Al Cartoon 11

Dubai TV

The wildly popular UAE cartoon series returns for its 11th season, blending humour with cutting-edge social commentary through the antics of Shambee, Hanafi, Othman, Bo Suleiman and a host of other humorous characters living in a Dubai neighbourhood.

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Old favourites

Al Ar’aab 2

Abu Dhabi TV

Syrian stars Bassem Yakhour, Mona Wasef and Basel Khayat return for the second season of Al Ar’aab (The Arabs), loosely based on classic Hollywood mafia movie The Godfather. Expect murder, revenge and gangster conflicts to feature heavily in this showset in Lebanon.

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Old favourites

Selfie 2

(MBC)

Nasser Al Qasabi, the Saudi Arabian satirical comic who received death threats during the first season of the hugely popular Selfie when he mocked ISIL in one episode, returns with season two of the comedy sketch show. A hilarious commentary on aspects of life in Saudi Arabia and the Gulf, Selfie 2 promises plenty of laughs.

Updated: June 1, 2016 04:00 AM

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