With the month approaching, the pan-Arab television broadcaster revealed another vibrant line-up featuring some of the Arab world’s biggest stars including Egypt’s Mohamed Ramadan, Saudi Arabia’s Nasser Al Qasabi and Kuwait’s Huda Hussein.
MBC also confirmed that comedian Ramez Galal will be back with another series featuring elaborate pranks aimed at some of the region’s biggest celebrities.
Each show will be screened daily, and most will be made available on MBC’s streaming platform Shahid, in addition to being re-run after Ramadan.
What time do they run?
We don’t know just yet. In what can only be regarded as a quirk of the regional television industry, most channels keep their broadcast time a secret, and only reveal them hours before Ramadan begins.
This is to ensure rivals don’t make any last-minute scheduling adjustments.
Therefore, the best advice is to log on to MBC’s website to get scheduling updates closer to the beginning of Ramadan.
The big dramas
1. ‘El Meshwar’ (MBC 1, MBC Iraq and Shahid)
Translated to "The Journey", Ramadan plays Maher, a taxi driver who is accused of trafficking antiquities and goes on the run with his wife, Ward (Elsherbiny).
The series, which was filmed in Cairo in November, will follow their attempts to be reunited with their son.
A source close to Ramadan told Egyptian news outlet Masrawy that it would be replete with chase scenes.
2. ‘Al Asouf 3’ (MBC1 and Shahid)
Veteran Saudi comic Nasser Al Qasabi returns for the third season of this modern historical drama that looks at the family and social character of the kingdom in the 1970s.
The drama has been praised for highlighting a different side of Saudi Arabia — a simpler time before the oil boom when family life was at the centre of society.
3. ‘Min Share’ Al Haram Ela…’ (MBC1 and Shahid)
This is an unfolding mystery featuring an ensemble cast led by Kuwait’s Huda Hussein and Khaled Al-Buraiki.
Set in Cairo, the opening episode begins with Abla (Hussein) celebrating her son’s wedding.
Things go increasingly wry, however, when the belly dancer hired for the event cannot return to her country owing to what she says are faulty travel documents.
How long can Abla host her surprise guest and does her story hold up?
4. ‘Tooba’ (MBC1, MBC 5, MBC Iraq, MBC Masr and Shahid)
The past and present weave together in this psychological drama.
Egyptian actor Amr Saad plays a character who leaves a criminal life for a quieter existence.
However, the darkness of his past is never far behind and leads to dire consequences.
5. ‘Studio 22’ (MBC1 and Shahid)
The follow-up to last year’s successful Saudi sit-com Studio 21, the new series has star Habib Al-Habib as the manager of a bankrupt satellite television channel trying to handle the competitiveness and jealousy of rival staff members.
6. ‘Minho Waladna?’ (MBC1 and Shahid)
Loosely based on Mark Twain's 1937 novel The Prince and the Pauper, the dark Saudi comedy (translated to Who is our Son?) follows two men whose lives change when they are mistakenly given to the wrong families as newborns.
One grows up to become a high-flying chief executive while the other is unemployed and barely making ends meet.
After discovering the mix up, both try to work together to reconcile with their respective families.
The variety shows
7. ‘Ramez Movie Star’ (MBC1, MBC 5, MBC Iraq, MBC Masr and Shahid)
Ramez Galal has been skirting that fine line between entertainment and cruelty for nearly a decade, to great success.
The Arab world's most notorious television prankster returns with another elaborate stunt to scare regional and international celebrities.
While details of this year’s set-up is tightly under wraps, what we do know is the show is done with the support of Saudi Arabia’s General Entertainment authority, so we can expect the action to take place within the kingdom.
8. ‘Iftarna Gheir’ (MBC 1, MBC Iraq and Shahid)
Syrian chef Hala Ayyash returns and collaborates with some of the Arab world’s leading cooks and foodies to create new and traditional dishes from Saudi Arabia and the wider Levant.
9. ‘Al Ruwaad with Ahmad AlShugairi' (MBC1 and Shahid)
Influential Saudi social commentator Ahmad AlShugairi returns with a new Ramadan series exploring the lives and achievements of a variety of international pioneers from countries including Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt, Jordan, the US and Germany.
10. ‘Al Sadma: Season 4’ (MBC1, MBC Iraq and Shahid)
A popular candid camera show with a purpose. Egypt’s Karim Kojak and Saudi Arabia’s Raed Abu Fityan team up to present a series where members of the public across the Arab world are put in socially fraught situations to see how they react.
The show aims to provide “an insight into human psychology” as to how societal norms and standards affect our behaviours.