Entertainment is key to making inroads in Middle East to promote Chinese culture, increase understanding between people
Chinese TV drama and movies dubbed in Arabic to be broadcast in UAE
Popular Chinese television drama, comedy, animation and movies dubbed into Arabic started being broadcast to the Middle East yesterday as part of long-term plans to give the region a taste of Chinese culture through entertainment.
Government officials gathered for an official signing ceremony that announced the launch of the agreement in Dubai, signed by broadcasters the China Media Group and China Arab TV.
The broadening of ties beyond commerce and trade comes before this week’s state visit by Chinese President Xi Jinping.
Six dramas and two movies, including a Chinese version of teen soap Gossip Girl and medical drama The Doctors will be televised on China Arab TV, which is based in Dubai.
Li Lingbing, the consul general of China in Dubai, said she hoped the launch would show the country’s Arab friends that the country was open, had an international vision and aimed to create a better future with countries along the Silk Road.
The broadcasts would foster mutual understanding of each other’s culture and deepen friendship, Ms Li said.
Ties between the nations date back to the porcelain and pearl trade down the centuries with the establishment of the Silk Road linking China with the Arab world and Africa.
Economic links between the two nations are strong, with China one of the UAE’s top two partners. Bilateral trade rose 15 per cent to $52 billion (Dh191bn) last year.
Both countries are keen on taking relations beyond trade agreements in energy, logistics, infrastructure, manufacturing and technology to improve cultural connections.
Culture was key to making inroads and increasing understanding, said Ossama Morra, head of media in the Sharjah Department of Culture and senior consultant with China Arab TV.
“Usually in the Arab world we see American movies and Bollywood productions,” Mr Morra said.
“The Chinese have paid attention to this and plan to work strategically to strengthen the relationship through culture because they would like to show how they are opening up to the world.
“We Arabs, like the rest of the world, cannot neglect China because of its economic power. Media and television is one of the channels for them to distribute their culture.
“But apart from capital being invested in China and here in the UAE, my hope is that this co-operation leads to common productions so there are good connections between the writers and actors in both countries.
“In this way, the Chinese can know more about our culture and we of theirs.”
The launch will ensure that Chinese entertainment with Arabic voice-overs will reach countries across the Middle East, officials said. There were also plans to take Arab programming to the Far East.
“The eight programmes we have introduced today is what you see for now,” said Mohammed Beigi, cinematic production manager of China Arab TV. “Our agreement covers broadcasting many more series and movies.
“It will be both ways, from China to here and we will also take programmes to China.”
Last year, the countries signed agreements to improve ties in 13 areas including education, health, aviation and financial services.
“Television will aid understanding with people in the Arab world,” said Zhang Li, general manager of China Radio International, which is part of the China Media Group.
“It will help to boost relations through media because both our peoples are eager to learn more about each other.”
Talk shows and local interviews are being filmed in the UAE by China Arab TV.
“I have not only learnt more about the people in the UAE but also about people from other nationalities, since the UAE has so many people who live here,” said Ruixue Zhang, host of a weekly show China Arab Dialogues, who has lived in the UAE for two years.
“I’m very excited about our president’s visit because this will make the two countries closer.”