Why Arabs love Turkish TV? Inside Isk Mamnu soap

Published April 10th, 2011 - 14:03 GMT

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That it is dubbed in Syrian makes it even more a household option- as the Arab world is already accustomed to Syrian-speak in their dramas.The Syrian does not jar with the Turkish identities who do not seem to be worlds apart in culture.
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Image 1 of 16: That it is dubbed in Syrian makes it even more a household option- as the Arab world is already accustomed to Syrian-speak in their dramas.The Syrian does not jar with the Turkish identities who do not seem to be worlds apart in culture.

In Forbidden Love: where nephew has a steamy love affair with uncle’s wife and adoptive brother and sister embark on the road to marriage, nothing is taboo!
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Image 1 of 16: In Forbidden Love: where nephew has a steamy love affair with uncle’s wife and adoptive brother and sister embark on the road to marriage, nothing is taboo!

Dressed for the Kill:The acting is praised as is above all the frenzy of fashion. Some watch it so they can drool over the sumptuous clothing items and settings that they could not afford or dare wear!
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Image 1 of 16: Dressed for the Kill:The acting is praised as is above all the frenzy of fashion. Some watch it so they can drool over the sumptuous clothing items and settings that they could not afford or dare wear!

These soaps offer familiar topics ranging from arranged marriage, respect for family elders, and extended family sagas, Whereby family members all living together same house like is commonplace in Arab society.
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Image 1 of 16: These soaps offer familiar topics ranging from arranged marriage, respect for family elders, and extended family sagas, Whereby family members all living together same house like is commonplace in Arab society.

People on boat cruises on the Bosporus are met with tour guides who know to point out the famous landmarks from the soaps and with bemusement, tell tourists that it is much more popular with Arab viewers than with Turks.
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Image 1 of 16: People on boat cruises on the Bosporus are met with tour guides who know to point out the famous landmarks from the soaps and with bemusement, tell tourists that it is much more popular with Arab viewers than with Turks.

Where the family of the house sit around idly being served and causing or finding trouble (Is it any wonder if you’re not gainfully employed, that you should be spoiling for a fight?).
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Image 1 of 16: Where the family of the house sit around idly being served and causing or finding trouble (Is it any wonder if you’re not gainfully employed, that you should be spoiling for a fight?).

Uniting families: There’s something for the teenage schoolgirl, and the weary working father or housewife alike, who closes shop and rushes home to get ready to view. Here, the Brad Pitt of the Middle and Near East, Muhannet.
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Image 1 of 16: Uniting families: There’s something for the teenage schoolgirl, and the weary working father or housewife alike, who closes shop and rushes home to get ready to view. Here, the Brad Pitt of the Middle and Near East, Muhannet.

Upstairs/ Downstairs: Basheer, the longtime driver, is struck with a fatal Tuberculosis, and as intrigue sets in we know he is taking to the grave a dark and explosive secret. Or is he? Much of the serving characters are privy to the affair especially as the plot draws to a close.
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Image 1 of 16: Upstairs/ Downstairs: Basheer, the longtime driver, is struck with a fatal Tuberculosis, and as intrigue sets in we know he is taking to the grave a dark and explosive secret. Or is he? Much of the serving characters are privy to the affair especially as the plot draws to a close.

Sex-kitten Samar has been the talk of the Gulf states and soap-viewing Arab hot spots, from Lebanon to Palestine and Jordan.
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Image 1 of 16: Sex-kitten Samar has been the talk of the Gulf states and soap-viewing Arab hot spots, from Lebanon to Palestine and Jordan.

While 40 something’s admire the furnishings and trappings of the luxury life, where breakfasts to salivate for are taken on the veranda.
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Image 1 of 16: While 40 something’s admire the furnishings and trappings of the luxury life, where breakfasts to salivate for are taken on the veranda.

Samar never seen with a dress length below the knees.
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Image 1 of 16: Samar never seen with a dress length below the knees.

A soap within a soap- layers of drama: There is a drama of its own played out in the servant classes, while separate from the primary plot at times, is inextricably tied in with the Masters' action.
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Image 1 of 16: A soap within a soap- layers of drama: There is a drama of its own played out in the servant classes, while separate from the primary plot at times, is inextricably tied in with the Masters' action.

Naughty or Nice? Some find Nehal, seen here, (butter wouldn’t melt) the one to die for, with her alluring innocence, while others like to fantasize about the definitely the naughtier  and raunchier option, Samar.
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Image 1 of 16: Naughty or Nice? Some find Nehal, seen here, (butter wouldn’t melt) the one to die for, with her alluring innocence, while others like to fantasize about the definitely the naughtier and raunchier option, Samar.

Ski holidays, daily dining out and weekend family breaks: this is how the other side lives.
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Image 1 of 16: Ski holidays, daily dining out and weekend family breaks: this is how the other side lives.

Clothes n Cars: Here Samar dresses to coordinate with her car, not bags or shoes. Again, this is how the other side lives.
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Image 1 of 16: Clothes n Cars: Here Samar dresses to coordinate with her car, not bags or shoes. Again, this is how the other side lives.

Spoiler alert: Al Bawaba can reveal that the ending's not pretty nor picture perfect, but is climactic: This ending brings to mind Greek Tragedy- on that epic  scale. No happy ever after. Watch this space as the final show draws close on MBC 4.
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Image 1 of 16: Spoiler alert: Al Bawaba can reveal that the ending's not pretty nor picture perfect, but is climactic: This ending brings to mind Greek Tragedy- on that epic scale. No happy ever after. Watch this space as the final show draws close on MBC 4.

The Ottoman Empire, after centuries of rule has left indelible marks on Arab lands, leaving its imprint on art, language and food.  But the legacy that shows itself most powerful is more cinematic and some could argue cultural: Soap Opera.

At least 20 Turkish soaps have aired on Arab television, offering an escape from the hard daily realities of life. Three years ago, April 2008, and the one everyone was talking about was "Nur". Today in many parts of the MBC-viewing-Arab world it's "Forbidden Love" (or Ushk il Mamnou) which has stormed the Arab world, across the board. Teenagers, have the sexy images on their pencil cases, and 30-40 something’s are wearing perfume (purportedly) used in the show, or fawning over the high-fashion wardrobes of the characters. Married couples are having tiffs over the sex appeal of the lead characters.

Turks visiting Arab countries speak of an enthusiastic barrage of enquiries they are subjected to  from hopeful Arab fans trying to obtain some kind of inside track knowledge about the soap, trivia etc. Arabs touring Turkey want to see their fictional drama being lived on home territory, and enquire about seeing the mansion and river and idyllic surrounds.

"Nur" was first to be introduced aired on Saudi owned channel MBC, dubbed into Syrian Arabic ( a familiar dialect for TV drama together with Egyptian Arabic) and transcribed with Arabic names.  Upward of 85 million viewers across the Arab world tuned in for a record high Arab- TV-viewing, for Nur.

Whether it’s the lifestyle and escapist quality of the lives lived by rich and idle, or the love and romance together with the intrigue, there’s something for everyone.  The Turkish soaps have sold themselves to the Arabs and here’s taking a closer look at Ish il Mamnou for what’s really causing the buzz and stir from the Levant to the Arabian peninsula and North Africa.

For Arabs, what is the appeal?

Escapism: These hour long episodes offer escape from hard reality of daily life and a glimpse into a life they can only dream of given a world often dominated by news delivered live and streamed into their living rooms.  Arabs seemed to be bored of Arabic soaps- and in need of fresh faces.

They don’t want the gritty features of real life that they get from news and their environment.

These Turkish starring families lead fictionally beautiful picture perfect lives, at least when you take aside their turbulent drama and moral quagmires and combustive plots where doom is forecast early on.

Their  societies are not worlds apart and it is nice for the Arab world to feel less isolated or unique. Once upon a time, Hispanic or Mexican soap operas were all the rage. But this fixation with Turkey allows for Muslim culture familiarity to also filter across .Though in the Arab world it by no means attracts Muslims alone, Christian Arabs enjoy it with equal gusto.

Religious clerics were not so impressed following Nur’s big success in the conservative Gulf world. They issued Fatwehs charging these shows with promoting vice and debaucheries- fatwehs  that made it permissible to kill someone for broadcasting it.

Forbidden Love (Ishk il Mamnou)

Has really taken the Near and Mid East by storm—and was even a big hit by Turkish standards at home.

In the Gulf, people who would not think twice before entering a loveless arranged marriage are now seeking more and how women there are all looking for men like the male star in the series who treats his wife with kindness .. The show has even led to divorces by jealous husbands who are insulted when their wives find Mohannet (the show’s stud) to be eye candy!

The plot, a family saga set in today’s Turkey but based on a novel by Halid Ziya Usakligil from 1899, revolves around Adnan Ziyagil, a rich widower in Istanbul who marries the much younger and beautiful Bihter. Drama and intrigue set in as Bihter begins a relationship with Behlul Haznedar, her husband’s fun-seeking nephew.

The escapist quality of the drama is quite palpable, with expensive clothes and perfume all set in the mansion where they live with its panoramic vantage out on the Bosporus.

Even those who did not watch it in its entity will be rushing to watch the last episode…

 

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