MBC expands soap opera shows despite Mufti fury

TV company launches new Turkish dramas, with more in the pipeline despite protest.

Saudi-owned TV broadcaster MBC is planning to add four new Turkish soap operas to its programming - just months after a religious leader condemned them as "un-Islamic and subversive".The television company, which broadcasts the popular Noor and Sanawat al-Dyaa (The Lost Hours), confirmed to Arabian Business that the new Turkish dramas would be added to the lineup this season.

"Turkish drama is now an established genre," Mazen Hayek, MBC’s marketing director, told Al Arabiya.net.

In July, the grand mufti of Saudi Arabia, Sheikh Abdul Aziz Al-Asheikh, condemned Turkish soap operas and ordered people to stop watching them.

The religious leader said the programmes contained evil and destroyed people's ethics and values.

He added that the “malicious” Turkish soap operas corrupted individuals and spread vice in society.

Al-Asheikh was referring to MBC programmes Noor and Lost Years, which have become extremely popular in the Arab world over the last couple of months.

The soaps are dubbed in colloquial Syrian Arabic and have proved such a big draw in the kingdom that many people plan their day around the programmes.

Now, Lahzat Wadaa (A Farewell Moment) and La Makan La Watan (No Place No Nation) have been launched on MBC4 and MBC1, respectively - with plans for more Turkish dramas in the pipeline.

Noor, originally 'Gumus' in Turkish, told the story of a young woman who married a powerful yet romantic and loving man named Muhanad. The way the show portrayed women and men in a Muslim family was unconventional by Arab standards and aroused the curiosity of millions.

The show first aired in Turkey in 2005 to reasonable ratings. In 2008 Saudi-owned MBC group dubbed the soap into colloquial Arabic and gave it a prime time slot on its popular channel MBC4 and the show took off, becoming a television phenomenon.

The show became a socio-cultural phenomenon as three to four million people tuned in to Noor every night, making it the highest rated show ever in recent Arab television history.

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Posted by: Sajid

I believe that the Saudis and Muslims all over the world should take heed and give respect to Shaykh Abdul Aziz. This television channel, it's owners and promoters should realize that showing such soap operas are against Islamic Shariah. And people should realize that it is haraam to watch such shows on TV. Don't you have anything better to do? How about reading Qur'aan, playing with your family, visiting friends, learning the fundamentals of our Islamic way of life, earning halaal money? Why not spend time in those pursuits which will aid you in this world and the next? May God guide the Rulers of the Arab and Turkish world so that they ban these soaps and other immoral movies, songs, dances,etc.

Posted by: Mohammad Osman

There are hundreds of films shown in the Arab World TVs, I don't understand what is wrong with this series as long as people prefer more than any series nowadays.

Posted by: A.L.S

I think that these arabic or 'islamic' soaps are a fantastic idea. The soaps are targeted & related to islamic/middle east families. Instead of watching the typical all american Bold & the Beautiful or other western soap etc., which they cannot or do not want to relate to.

Posted by: Donald Duck

With all do respect to the Islamic view; I don't find a reason why they should condemn a T.V soap opera at all. If they think that these shows conflicts with Islamic Ethics; well how about the lovely T.V singers that comes out half naked on our screens screwing our heads and affecting our children's dreams?! I have a son that is telling me he wants to marry a famous arabian singer. Some says that "Noor" has made our life "referring to men" a misery... I see the contrary; I think it helped to find better ways to dealing with our women "I'm not talking about buying expensive rings and going on expensive trips". I'm talking about the whole structure of a relationship between two parties. I urge the viewers to take positive sides of a program they watch whatever it was, and dump whatever is negative. specially us here in the Middle East, as we always look for what causes trouble. Apologies if I offended anyone.

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