Ramadan’s Value Being Diluted by the TV Dial and Soap Operas

Posted on September 10, 2008



From Octavia Nasr
CNN.com Senior Editor for Arab Affairs

(CNN) — Ramadan is the holiest month for Muslims around the world, a time to fast, cleanse the soul and surrender to God. But in the Middle East, there’s a new twist to the tradition.

Arab channels’ soap operas contain enough twists to entertain through the month of Ramadan.

Ramadan translates into big bucks for Arab satellite channels. Millions of dollars are spent on special programming, much of it comparable to Western soap operas, to entertain the masses during their sunrise-to-sunset fasts.

One program, the popular Syrian production “Baab El-Hara” — “The Neighborhood Gate” — offers high drama focused on a family feud. A man and his pregnant wife are separated as their mothers fight it out, with each mother-in-law trying to teach the other a lesson.

The woman misses her husband and wants to go back to him. The husband kisses his mother’s hand and promises her he’ll do only what she wants.

Please click here to watch a CNN clip on Ramadan and the TV Soap Opera Business.

The soaps showcase social traditions mixed with melodramatic characters and enough twists and turns of events to last the entire month of fasting.

But it’s not all soap. There are also history programs highlighting glorious times of Islamic and Arabic bygone eras. On these, the ancient Arabic tribal costumes are showcased, complete with the traditional headdress, dagger on the side and more camels than a viewer can count. [more]

Posted in: Islam