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.