Image 1 of 12: Arab’s Got Talent, a Brit-US spun franchise,and big hit in 'Arabia', airing on prime TV during prime Arab revolutionary times, and reminding us of home-grown talent, in spite of its U.S. origins. It has won hearts and minds in the Mid-East though, through its celeb host trio- with Najwa Karam.
Image 1 of 12: Star Academy LBC is Fame academy meets Big Brother- hailing from France’s original Star Academy. This pan-Arab televised talent show featuring young male and female candidates from the region, hosted in Lebanon.
Image 1 of 12: Deal or No Deal--- bears the same name as the original format from the Dutch producer Endemol. Arrab adapted versions are two: Deal or No Deal LBC and "Al-Safqa" MBC1. This catch-phrase named show is a decision/ probability game, based on hedging your bets and quitting while you're ahead.
Image 1 of 12: X Factor is a talent search show, sprung from the UK, whereby aspiring singers perform before an intimidating judge panel. This traveled instantly to the US, still headed up by Brit creator Simon Cowell. Arab version: 'XSeer Al Najah' or Essence of Success, from Rotana & MBC.
Image 1 of 12: Biggest Loser -or the Arabic counterpart, "al Raabeh el Akbar" -named the Biggest Winner- is a weight loss reality TV show whose original is American by NBC. It features obese contestants competing to lose weight. In the Lebanese series, the contestants compete in 'couples' and against each other.
Image 1 of 12: Mission Fashion is Lebanese station LBC's version of America’s Next Top Model, which features aspiring models competing to enter the modeling industry in reality TV. This was the original inspiration for other formats. "Mission Fashion" involves a model and designer contest running in tandem.
Image 1 of 12: Moment of Truth- or Arabia's copy, "La7tha al Hakeeka", is an American television show where people tell their deeply embarrassing secrets on national TV for money. The pan-Arab version has been modified to suit a more conservative culture.
Image 1 of 12: Perfect Bride: An LBC TV-hit, this time coming from Turkey and Italy where the format first appeared. The rest of the world though is not short of other Bridal themed reality TV shows.
Image 1 of 12: American Idol- a spin-off from Britain's Pop Idol- and in the Arab world Superstar, owned by Future TV. This show aims to elect the best singer talent by enlisting the viewers' votes.
Image 1 of 12: Survivor – another LBC franchise series, originally a British concept but soon spread to Sweden, and is now very internationally prevalent. This endurance challenge involves different ‘tribe’s’ of contestants divided between two islands.
Image 1 of 12: he Apprentice Dubai recreates the US original tailored to the Arab world. Dubai hosts"el iIara Jadara" - Mohamed Ali Allabar playing Donald Trump or Alan Sugar business tycoons. Abu Dhabi has its own Arabian- "Hydra Executives" which a Brit won, reflecting the melting pot Arabian Dream in the UAE.
Image 1 of 12: Who Wants to be a Millionaire- this TV wonder phenomenon even made it to the Big Screen in Hollywood, in Slumdog Millionaire. The format is probably now the most widely exported of TV contestants as MBC clocked early on.
World Hit through slum dog -
Derrivative TV: It seems that the Middle East is a bit low on ideas when it comes to TV shows. An otherwise bubbling hot-tub abuzz with innovation, (take Dubai) that is the rapidly developing Arab World, seems to rely on borrowing TV from all over the globe. If it’s not soap operas from Turkey, it’s talent shows, reality TV shows, and game shows- from Europe and the West. From The Apprentice Dubai (el Idara Jadara) or El-Wadi- the Arabic version of The Farm - another Swedish creation that has spread across the reality TV hungry world audience- the Middle East is truly awash with Pan Arab versions of Euro or American-born TV concepts.
Having cast this rather disparaging remark on copy-cat TV show-ing, it should be noted that such is the trend in TV the world over- which is most apparent in the revolutionary Who Wants to be a Millionaire: this glitzy TV wonder swept the TV-viewing public, reaching the furthest corners, arguably the slums of Calcutta where a dramatized re-creation consolidated the show's success even further in movie Slumdog Millionaire, homing in on a slum-boy contestant's win. Such shows are adopted in numerous countries, adapted or spun to meet the home-setting unique needs, and then spread like wild fire in no time around the TV map. This is the way of the world economy for TV shows – with the more marked trend for show formats being sold from the richer European or western world to the rest of the world who have less funds to spawn unique formats or to spend on innovation. The developoing world quite legitimately in today’s climate imports from outside, and relies on customization. (like most of the pan-Arab versions will reflect.)
Europe and the West can afford to make these original formats; the developing world nations often can’t. However it doesn’t always follow this 'have and have-nots' divide. Take the Big Brother example – sold to Britain, Big Brother that came from Dutch makers Endemol, ran amock in Europe and America where it was an early experiment in the borrowing Western world long before the rest of us followed suit.
Nowadays we’re all sharing programs, and we're all dealing in derrivative shows- not by far the Mid-East alone- and you often never know where the original came from. Here's a low-down on some of the more popular pan-Arab models of originally foreign formats.