Rebecca Hawkes ©RapidTVNews | 31-07-2011

Egypt, the heart of the Arab world’s film and television industry, is to show 32 new TV series during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan in 2011, down from about 50 last year, according to Al-Masry Al-Youm.

Ramadan, which this year starts on 31 July or 1 August (depending on geographical location), commonly sees Middle Eastern families gather in front of their TV sets after Iftar – the meal which follows a day’s fasting.

However, with the political troubles in Egypt and Syria – traditionally another hotbed of Arab media production – the number of new dramas available for the Ramadan season has been reduced. In Syria, 28 new productions are scheduled for broadcast, marginally down from the 32 produced in 2010 – but significantly down compared to the 46 shows made there in 2008.

As well as new soap operas, such as Noor Mariam starring Nicole Saba and Yousef Al Sharif, and the comedies Noona Al Maazoona and Tash 18 on MBC, many Ramadan series this year focus on the Mubarak regime and the revolution in Egypt. Al Zenati Mojahed, an Egyptian comedy starring actor Sameh Hussein, looks at the problems faced by Egyptians prior to the spring uprising.
A new Syrian drama called Chiffon, from director Najdat Anzour, looks at the effect of drugs on society, while another show for Ramadan, called Al Ghaliboun, charts the rise of Hezbollah in Lebanon and will be shown on Al Manar channel.