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Meet The Sisters: the fashion-loving, social media-savvy Lebanese siblings with their own reality TV show

A new Kardashian-style reality show about three Beirut-based sisters is creating a drama in Lebanon. We find out what all the fuss is about.
Farah Abdel Aziz. Courtesy Rotana
Farah Abdel Aziz. Courtesy Rotana

Three sisters with flawless make-up, long black hair and clothes straight off the catwalk live in a sprawling villa, drive shiny cars, take dozens of selfies each day and thrive on social media.

No, they are not the Kardashians. Meet the Lebanese siblings Alice, Nadine and Farah Abdel Aziz, the stars of The Sisters, a Beirut-based reality show that is eerily similar to Keeping Up With the Kardashians. The only difference, perhaps, is that the Arab celebrities actually have a fourth sister, Diana, who lives in Lagos, Nigeria, and is the eldest (she is yet to be seen on the show).

The show

Produced by the media production company Rotana and broadcast on LBC, The Sisters launched on March 6 with each 60-minute episode showing the girls charting every moment of their glamorous lives in front of a camera – just like Kim, Kourtney and Khloé.

Twenty-six-year-old Alice (born after Diana, whose age has not been revealed) is behind the popular Instagram account @StyleinBeirut, which she began in 2013. It has 175,000 followers and regularly features pictures of all three sisters in their outfits, alongside style and trend images and street-style outfit posts of fashionable Lebanese women.

“Before the offer came our way, we were already sharing a big part of our life with thousands of people following us on social media, notably through Instagram,” says 22-year-old Farah, the youngest of the three.

Nadine, 23, says: “When we signed up for the show, we knew that being followed by cameras capturing our everyday life and details was now inevitable. However, as the days go by, the cameras become a part of our life routine to the point that we sometimes do not even notice that they are there.”

The criticism

Only three episodes have been shown so far but the show has already been accused of being heavily scripted, fabricating storylines and emphasising the “famous for being famous”concept, not unlike the type of criticism the Kardashians receive (not that it makes any difference – the 10th season of the Kardashians began this week).

“Honestly, we think what has sparked this whole comparison of us to the Kardashians is that we are three sisters and have our own reality show,” says Alice. “Surely it is a comparison that was initiated by the media and we never compared ourselves to them [the Kardashians] or intended to have a show that would copy them. We watch the Kardashians, like most people, too, and we like their show, but we are different from them on many levels, notably on the cultural level.”

Alice, Nadine and Farah have become media fodder and are subject to harsh criticism, especially on the show’s Facebook page: “Are you serious LBC???,” wrote Rx Dabz. “Have some respect for the minds of your viewers. It’s so unfortunate to see a TV station of your calibre sink to something this low just to attract viewers.”

Maya Itani-Abu Hassan posted: “My entire life I have struggled against the stereotype of Lebanese women being shallow and stupid. My whole life I wanted to prove we are intelligent, well spoken, and care about more than just our closets. I think it’s an absolute embarrassment and shame … to support this ­stereotype by airing such an ­idiotic show.”

Outlook, an independent student publication published by the American University of Beirut, is doubtful that the show has any “intellectual value”.

“Lebanon is copying an American show that has got huge criticism without taking into consideration the feedback of the Lebanese public, who showed clear rejection for the concept all over social media,” the magazine states. “The Lebanese audience is wondering what a good reason might be behind the execution of such a cheap imitation.”

The praise

Here’s one: entertainment, albeit of the slightly voyeuristic kind that reality shows attract. No episode is complete without one or more of the sisters working out or throwing a tantrum. And they certainly have a fan base. On a post about The Sisters by the Lebanese site BlogBaladi, Zena commented: “They are very stylish and popular in their circle. And at least they work hard on their image and title and earn it.”

In the online edition of Lebanese social and lifestyle magazine Mondanité, Roland Haddad said: “Why do some people jump on the hate wagon before giving these girls a chance?”

Rima El-Khalil said: “As silly and superficial as they sound, I must admit that they did a good job FOR Lebanon. It does show the lifestyle and beautiful sceneries of Lebanon which I think is great.”

Farah says it was a no-brainer to sign up when they were approached by Rotana.

“Apart from the fashion and lifestyle and the daily excitement, we will be pursuing career goals and attempting ­achievements on different levels, and by that we hope to share this journey and inspire other people to reach out to beyond the looks towards greater ­accomplishments.”

The story so far

Episode 1

We are introduced to the key players, and immediately realise that a) make-up plays a big role in the three sisters’ lives and b) product placement is everywhere. Nadine thinks her car has broken down when, in fact, it is out of petrol. Farah doesn’t know what to do with her life now that she has a degree (which she cares little about), so she seeks the guidance of a life counsellor but keeps it a secret from her sisters. She then ends up burning a cake that she had baked for the counsellor. Alice takes her job as a fashion “blogger” seriously and criticises her sisters for not being serious about posing for pictures that will be uploaded onto her Instagram “blog”. The episode wraps up with the news that Nadine has been dumped by her boyfriend (she finds out via a text message).

Episode 2

Alice decides to surprise her sisters with a trip to Lebanon’s ski town, Faraya, for a fashion photo shoot in the snow. She and Farah spend their time there picking skiwear and complaining about Nadine, who throws several tantrums. During dinner with their close family friend Mahmoud, Nadine excuses herself to go to the bathroom, then sends Mahmoud a text to say she has left for Beirut. Everyone is furious.

Episode 3

Alice takes her dog Stella to the vet because she is refusing her sushi treats (salmon and caviar). Alice is convinced that both Stella and Nadine require a psychiatrist; the three sisters argue. Nadine catches up with her pregnant friend, the jewellery designer Laura Haddad. The entire conversation, conducted in a Frenchified version of Arabic, feels incredibly scripted. Nadine tells the girls’ manicurist Ghina that although no one is perfect, “I don’t think I have a single fault, I don’t see a single fault in me”. Nadine puts salt in her sisters’ coffee. Alice tells her friends she is sick of people saying the sisters are anorexic: “It’s not our fault if we’re thin!” By the end of the episode, the three make up.

• The Sisters is a Rotana production that is broadcast on Friday on LBC Sat at 8pm. From Saturday until Thursday, 10- to 15-minute clips are broadcast at 6pm Dubai time on LBC Sat. Watch previous episodes on LBCTV Channel on YouTube. Check out @the_sisters_lbc on Instagram and thesisterslbc on Facebook

artslife@thenational.ae

Updated: March 24, 2015 04:00 AM

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