Tune into the best TV this Ramadan
With the Holy Month traditionally seen as chance to introduce new shows to the viewing public, Saeed Saeed reports on some of the best opportunities for a night (or day) in front of the box
Muslims are not the only ones looking for a boost from Ramadan. Local and regional television channels traditionally view the Holy Month as a chance to prop up ratings by unleashing major new drama serials and the latest series of their biggest shows, which usually feature some of the Arab world's most popular stars. This year's offerings include a big-budget historical drama, an Egyptian political satire and the return of a top-rated spy thriller. Here are 10 of the most anticipated shows.
1. Min Al Akhar (Dubai TV)
With the pioneering Saudi comedy series Tash Ma Tash rested this Ramadan, Min Al Akhar aims to fill that intriguing hole of comic social commentary. Each episode deftly deals with issues affecting Saudi society. Starring Rashid Al Shamrani, of the hit Saudi comedy series Bayni Wa Baynak (who's also a practising clinical psychologist). Daily at 7.55pm.
2. Hebr Al Oyoon (MBC Drama)
Fresh from her starring role in Kanye West's short film Cruel Summer, the Kuwaiti actress Hayat Al Fahd heads this Khaleeji drama about a woman tackling life's adversities. Daily at 5pm.
3. Ferqat Naji Atallah (MBC1)
Featuring the legendary Egyptian actor and comic Adel Imam, this political satire follows the plans of a retired Egyptian soldier and diplomat to create a military squad for a new mission. Daily at 9pm.
4. Khadimat Al Qawm (Abu Dhabi Al Oula)
A Ramadan mainstay, the Kuwaiti actress Huda Hussein returns with her latest drama as a high-flying businesswoman trying to keep it together at home. With her grown-up children rebelling, Hussein's character must find a way to keep her family intact. Daily at 10pm.
5. Al Huroob (Abu Dhabi Al Oula)
After finding success with films including Wahed Min El Nass, the Egyptian actor Karim Abdel Aziz returns to the small screen in this thrilling series which follows a fugitive being hunted for a crime he didn't commit. The series is penned by Bilal Fadhi, renowned as one of Egypt's best screenwriters. Daily at 11pm.
6. Rayal Westel Hareem (OSN Ya Hala!)
Inspired by the Egyptian hit Ragel We Set Settat, this Gulf sitcom follows Mubarak (Mohammad Al Serfay), a deflated 30-year-old attempting to maintain his sanity while living with his wife, daughter, mother, sister, mother-in-law and wife's sister. Daily at 1am.
7. Hareem Al Sultan (OSN Ya Hala!)
Topping OSN's ratings last Ramadan, this is the second series of the Turkish costume drama set in the era of Suleiman the Magnificent, focusing on the secret world of Ottoman harems with all their intrigues and betrayals. Saturday to Tuesday at 10pm.
8. Valley of the Wolves (OSN Ya Hala!)
The wildly popular, turbo-charged Turkish spy thriller, which owes more to Rambo than to 24, returns for its sixth season and sees Murad, its broken hero, deciding to quit his spy post after the murder of his wife and child. His superiors, however, will only agree to his request if he fulfils one more bloody mission. Saturday to Wednesday at midnight.
9. Omar (MBC1)
One the biggest productions in Arabic television history, this controversial historical drama follows the life and times of Omar Ibn Al Khattab (played by the Syrian actor Samer Ismael), one of Islam's earliest Caliphs and the righteous companion of the Prophet Mohammed. Written by the celebrated television screenwriter Waleed Saif, the drama aims to highlight Al Khattab's compassion and strong leadership, and shed light on the emerging Islamic community of the time. Daily at 11pm.
10. The 99 (MBC3)
Making its Middle East debut, this landmark comic book series by Dr Naif Al-Mutawa introduces a new kind of superhero to TV. Based on the 99 Attributes of Allah, each character - hailing from 99 different countries - is named after a blessed Islamic archetype, such as Al Jabbar the Powerful, a gawky Saudi Arabian teenager who transforms into a He-Man-like figure. Daily except Thursdays. Check www.mbc.net for timings.