“Turkish soap operas in the Arab world: social liberation or cultural alienation? ” – Arab Media & Society


“In 1980 oil magnate J.R. Ewing was shot and injured in the hit series Dallas, which featured an unconventional family’s struggles over power, wealth and sex. The shot was heard around the world, with millions of fans desperately wondering “Who shot J.R.?”. It was the first time that a TV series had captivated simultaneously so many people around the world. Five years later, the Arabs were shooting at the stars with the launch of the first Arab satellite system, Arabsat-1. Except for experts and visionaries, no one was predicting that it was “the beginning of the end” for the state domination of television in the Arab world.

Almost a quarter of a century later, on August 30, 2008, 85 million Arab viewers were glued to their TV sets for the finale of the Syrian-dubbed Turkish soap opera, Gümüş1 (Noor2 in Arabic), a Kanal D production that received little attention in its homeland in 2005. After falling in the past for Victoria Principal, Ridge Forrester, and Latin American telenovela characters Kassandra and Rosalinda , Arab audiences are now turning to Turkey, a close yet estranged neighbor with whom they share a tumultuous history.

The mastermind behind this phenomenon has been the MBC (Middle East Broadcasting Center) media empire, a combination of Saudi capital and Middle Eastern know-how, and a success story that started in the 1990s with the birth of a private Arab media field. As Naomi Sakr explains, many factors fuel the field’s potential including the fact that “Media flows are (…) facilitated where the language is shared3”. The Arab market is indeed unique: a large and essentially young audience with some 20 countries sharing a common language. Researchers have thus observed a relative “depoliticization” of media over the years with the progressive development of mass entertainment programming. […]”

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Source : Arab Media & Society



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