This month, Hala Gorani hosts ‘Inside the Middle East’ from Dubai from where she takes viewers on a journey to Lebanon and Tunisia to meet a singing legend and one of the most prolific film producers from the Middle East.
The show opens with a report from Beirut where CNN correspondent Brent meets 82-year old tarab singer, Nahawand, one of the most elderly performers in the Middle East. Twice a week she rocks them in the aisles of Music Hall, a trendy Beirut nightclub where the Lebanese glitterati dance on tables to the powerful voice of ‘the nightingale’. Now, with age, she suffers mentally but never forgets her lyrics. Her doctors remark that this frail woman in her trademark black suit and red scarf literally lives to sing, and that those few minutes on stage every week may be her motivation to stay alive.
Also in the show is a report from Tunisia where Hala Gorani explores the country’s history of Western film production. Most of the can be attributed to Tunisian-born Tarak Ben Ammar who is today a major international film broker and movie producer. Currently producing the upcoming ‘Hannibal Rising’ movie, he also took part in producing popular films like ‘Star Wars’ and the ‘Raiders of the Lost Ark’ movies. Ben Ammar shows Gorani around his magnificent Greco-Roman film set north of Tunis, revealing how he convinced Hollywood legends Steven Spielberg and George Lucas to shoot their movies in his native Tunisia, helping transform the small North African country into one of Hollywood’s favourite film sets.
December’s ‘Inside the Middle East’ also takes an in depth look at a specific problem affecting life in the Middle East: iodine deficiency disorder. Just a pinch of iodised salt with a meal is known to be enough to eliminate the primary cause of preventable learning difficulties and brain damage. But mental retardation, dwarfism and speech defects due to IDD have yet to be eliminated in the region despite efforts to get salt producers to add iodine to their product. In Egypt’s rural Nile Delta, ‘Inside The Middle East’ looks at one anti-IDD programme targeting babies that is proving successful and follows an Egyptian health minister in his battle against IDD as he seeks to rid the souks, shops and stores of illegally produced, un-iodised salt.
‘Inside The Middle East’ hosted by Hala Gorani, can be seen on Sunday 3rd December at 1830 GMT / 1930 CET.