x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Viewers rave after premiere episode of Beyond Borders documentary show

The six-episode series, which chronicles the life-changing journey of six young Emiratis to the Philippines, premiered on Friday on MBC.

Mariam Al Kuwaiti, Tasneem Alnaqbi and Fatima Abdullah Farah pack in the first episode of Beyond Borders. Courtesy John Sammon / Saluki Media
Mariam Al Kuwaiti, Tasneem Alnaqbi and Fatima Abdullah Farah pack in the first episode of Beyond Borders. Courtesy John Sammon / Saluki Media

Reactions to the airing of the first episode of the Emirati documentary Beyond Borders have been overwhelmingly positive.

The six-episode series chronicling the life-changing journey of six young Emiratis to the Philippines premiered on Friday on MBC1.

“I couldn’t wait to see it,” said Afraa Al Mehairi, 18, a first-year engineering student at UAE University. “My mom, cousins and aunts all gathered around the TV to watch the show.”

“We need these types of shows that everyday people can relate to.”

Ms Al Mehairi said the issue of Emiratis not valuing what they have was paramount and experiencing a place where people have significantly less, either in person or through viewing the show, would change attitudes significantly.

“I also liked the idea of the six Emiratis being from different social and academic backgrounds,” she said.

The Image Nation production brought together three Emirati men and three Emirati women from as far as Al Gharbia and the Northern Emirates, all with varied socio-economic backgrounds.

Another viewer who became a fan was Sultan Al Alazri, 28.

“It is a good idea to give newer generations a different perspective,” said the safety and security officer. “Giving them a chance to explore living abroad in conditions worse than they have grown up in is important.”

But Mr Al Alazri said certain aspects of the first episode were not in line with the overarching message of the series and did not reflect Emiratis in a good light.

“I thought the part were the women had to repack their bags in front of the cameras and the host were not appropriate,” he said.

Mr Al Alazri was referring to a scene where all six participants were instructed by Saoud Al Kaabi, the show’s host, to take only what was essential, leave all their valuables behind, and repack all their contents in small bags.

“Our culture respects women and their privacy and I believe this scene portrays something which is not part of our culture,” he said.

Mr Al Azari also had a problem with a scene where one of the men tried to sneak a phone on to the plane.

“Although we used to do this in school it seemed unnecessary to focus on this in the programme,” he said. “If these Emiratis are supposed to be ambassadors of our country they should not be shown this way.”

Despite this, Mr Al Alazri was keen to see the upcoming episodes and said he would recommend it to family and friends.

Mohammed Abdullah Farah, 25, the older brother of show participant Fatima Abdullah Farah, also enjoyed the programme.

“I thought it showed my sister accurately,” he said. “As I work in the video production field I can tell you the quality of the work on this show was excellent.”

Mr Farah said the show was a big step for his sister and made him realise how much she has grown up.

“All the family gathered to watch it and we even missed part of a family wedding to see the show,” he said.

Mr Farah said his mother was on the phone throughout the show calling family to watch her daughter on TV.

“She was extremely happy and we are all looking forward to the next show,” he said.

Beyond Borders airs every Friday on MBC1 at 2pm with reruns on Saturdays at 6.30am.

Episodes can also be seen online at http://shahid.mbc.net/media/program/819/Beyond%20borders.

tsubaihi@thenational.ae