Too many of the television dramas offered for Ramadan are boring and derivative, an Arabic-language editorial grumbles. Today's other topics: Syria, and a prescient 2003 book about the Arab world.
Nothing to watch on TV
Drama productions are boring, unoriginal
"One of the benefits of the Arab revolutions is the decrease in drama production for the month of Ramadan by 35 per cent compared to the same period last year," wrote the editor-in-chief Sami Al Reyami in a leader for the UAE newspaper Emarat Al Youm.
We are not at all against TV drama in Ramadan, which traditionally has significant viewing rates. We believe that this month is a real opportunity to raise many issues through dramatic works by highlighting, for example, many of our traditions as Muslims.
Yet the soap operas aired on certain channels are less satisfactory. Most of them are superficial, with an overstating tone. They exaggerate in both comedy and tragedy.
"Without delving into details, the dramas on display this month, whether Egyptian, Syrian or from the Gulf, resemble each other in content ... There is absolutely nothing new: they all sound monotonous and most are commercially driven.
"Our local production is also monotonous … Some of last year's works were better … Most soap operas are of a commercial nature, and fail to strike a reasonable balance between what the viewer wants and what the advertiser and the producer see as profitable.
The unnecessary "overstretching" of sequences is the order of the day, and the performance of our comedians is not convincing and sounds artificial.
Patience is the key to ending Syria's crisis
"The bleeding in Syria is multifaceted. It is about politics, economics, security, the military and society, noted the Emirati newspaper Al Khaleej.
As the crisis enters its fifth month, the situation is likely to worsen, which plunge the country into further chaos and conflict. Syria is at a crossroads that can jeopardise the whole country.
"While western attitudes have specific goals and objectives, Damascus should treat the Arab views positively. This is because Arab countries are keen to ensure the unity and stability of Syria."
The Arab stance is summed up through the Arab League's statement and then through that of the GCC countries. Saudi Arabia also called, for its part, for a stop to violence, to spare lives.
Arabs also speak of reform through a comprehensive national dialogue, but they also warn against the risk of sliding into sectarian strife. They stress that this is a critical time for Syria. Damascus should see these Arab comments as fraternal advice.
It is worth mentioning that as long if the crisis lasts much longer, many parties will become more interested in interfering in Syria's affairs.
This is why it is important for Syrians to come up with a suitable solution that will help put an end to their crisis, and to make real change through true political reform.
Saudi king's 'thunder' on Syria will soon fade
Saudi King Abdullah's decision to withdraw his ambassador from Damascus is synonymous with the US and European declaration that president Bashar Al Assad has lost all legitimacy, observed Satea Noureddin in the Lebanese daily Assafir.
The withdrawal "could be the practical translation of the explicit international orientation to exercise maximum political pressure on the Syrian regime, to halt its brutal campaign against its own people."
The decision is a vital transformation in the Saudi attitude towards the Al Assad regime, a long-time reliable ally of the Sauds through the last four decades.
Despite the careful choice of words, the monarch's speech can still be interpreted as clear support for the calls to topple the regime.
"However, the thunder of the Saudi position will soon fade; the king has previously made similar initiative towards other Arab countries in crisis, without any lasting effect."
President Al Assad isn't fighting for control over Lebanon any more, but over Syria itself. As harsh as his accusations to the Saudi king were in 2006, following the Israeli war on Lebanon, when he called the king "half a man", his response this time is expected to be much more severe under an unfounded Syrian assurance that the world has neither the means nor the desire to interfere in Syrian affairs.
Notohara was right about the Arab world
In 2003, Nobuaki Notohara's Arabs: A Japanese Point of View came out, and did not go unnoticed by Arab book reviewers, columnist Mohammed Al Rumaihi wrote in the pan-Arab newspaper Asharq al Awsat.
"I reviewed it in 2004," the columnist said, "and stated verbatim: 'As soon as I finished reading this book, I thought it must be required read for every Arab politician who wants reform, or believes it is still possible'."
Notohara's accounts a decade ago are as relevant, if not more so, today. The man lived among Arabs for 40 years, spoke their language and translated some of their texts. While he was doing so, he took note of some of the "negative aspects" of the Arab world and warned that they could get worse. Notohara saw the simmering tension on the Arab street. He wrote: "People in Arab towns are not happy, are not at ease; people are keeping quiet, they refrain from speaking, but you could hear a scream beneath that overbearing silence."
"A citizen's dignity is measured only in relation to his allegiance to the ruler," Notohara went on.
But his ruminations, truthful as they are, may remain under the radar of most Arabs, because "we are a reading-averse bunch," the columnist said. "The Arab political spring is still missing a cultural spring."
* Digest compiled by the Translation Desk