Top Arabic language shows to check out on Netflix

From comedies and dramas to talk shows and stand-up specials, these titles will keep you entertained

Nour Al Ghandour and Muhanad Al Hamdi star in the Kuwaiti drama series 'Juman'. Photo: Eagle Films
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Arabic language shows are becoming more diverse and readily available.

And they are coming from across the region, from Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, Kuwait and the UAE, tackling a variety of stories and narratives that are worth watching. Whether starring A-list actors, up-and-coming talent or exploring new genres or familiar tropes in new ways, we’ve curated a list of must-see Arabic language series you can binge-watch on Netflix.

'Jinn'

A supernatural coming-of-age story about a group of teenagers studying at a private school in Amman, this show stars a talented cast of young actors from Jordan, where the series was filmed. Set in modern Amman, the story begins when a group of friends unknowingly invite the supernatural forces of jinn into their world during a school field trip to the Unesco World Heritage Site of Petra.

Friendships and budding romances are tested, and the central character Mira and her friends must stop it from creating any more damage.

'Juman'

The Kuwaiti romance drama tells the story of Juman and Hisham who, despite the misgivings of and estrangement from their families, fall in love and get married.

However, their married life isn’t exactly going as planned. Soon, the couple find that their upbringing and different outlooks on life aren't the only causes of tension. With increasing pressure from their families and friends, Juman and Hisham have to work even harder to prove that love is enough.

'Adel Karam: Live from Beirut'

The celebrated Lebanese actor and comic, known for his quick wit and dry humour, is the first Lebanese citizen to get a Netflix special.

Performing at the Casino du Liban in Lebanon, Karam effortlessly approaches taboo subjects from the Middle East with down-to-earth and relatable humour through personal experiences and anecdotes.

'#ABtalks'

Anas Bukhash is the host of '#ABtalks'. Photo: Anas Bukhash

Emirati entrepreneur Anas Bukhash’s hugely popular YouTube show #ABTalks has now made it on Netflix.

In intimate one-on-one conversations with A-list actors, celebrities and thought leaders from across the region, Bukhash delves into the personal and private and puts the spotlight on important and taboo subjects affecting the Arab world.

'Al Hayba'

The dark and intense series starring Taim Hassan and Nadine Nassib Njeim is set on the Lebanese-Syrian border and follows the Sheikh Al Jabal family, who control the smuggling routes between the two countries, and their historic feud with another powerful family.

The story takes a dramatic turn when Alia, played by Njeim, and her young son visit her recently deceased husband’s native village, and she is forced to marry her brother-in-law.

'The Cage'

Netflix’s first Kuwaiti project is a dramedy that unravels the thorns and roses of marital life. The series, which was released in September, tells the story of a family counsellor working with a couple to help them communicate better and empathise with each other in an effort to save their marriage. The eight-episode show traces the evolution of their relationship across a decade. With its light-hearted tone, the series aims to offer a fresh take on how marital challenges are portrayed in Arab dramas.

The series boasts a line-up of celebrated Kuwaiti actors including Khalid Ameen, Hussain AlMahdi, Rawan Mahdi, Lamya Tareq and Hessah Al-Nabhan.

'AlRawabi School for Girls'

AlRawabi School for Girls became a regional hit when it was released in August last year. The series is set in a fictional girls' school and traces the oscillating highs and lows of adolescence. Its honest portrayal of contemporary issues, from bullying to social alienation, has made it one of Netflix’s strongest Arabic offerings yet.

Netflix recently confirmed that a second season of the series is in the works. Tima Shomali and Shirin Kamal will return as creators and executive producers, in collaboration with writer and executive producer Islam Alshomali. Shomali will also reprise her role as the show’s director.

'The Fastest'

Netflix’s first Arabic reality series features gearheads from across the Arab world who go head-to-head in drag races across deserts, race tracks and paved roads, competing for a cash prize.

The six-part series features souped-up Ford Mustangs, Toyota Supras modded like greased lightning, glistening vintage Camaros, and burly trucks that go as fast as speedsters. It also brings in several supercars to the fold, including a Dodge Viper and Porsche 911 Turbo. Drivers compete in a series of drag races across the landing strip of Al Ain International Airport, as well as a number of side challenges such as a drift contest at the Yas Marina Circuit.

“The contestants are all so different,” the show’s presenter Tareq Al-Harbi told The National in an interview ahead of its launch in November. “And we get to hear their stories, see their problem-solving skills and how they approach each race. There’s no guessing who’ll win. I kept trying to predict the races but I couldn’t.”

'Takki'

Netflix picked up the third season of Takki and the much beloved Saudi series returned after a six-year hiatus in October last year. It made its debut on YouTube in 2012, and was famous for boldly portraying the kingdom’s youth-related issues on screen.

Takki tells the story of Bayan, a video blogger and Twitter personality, who becomes embroiled in a vicious drama after sharing a car ride with a budding filmmaker named Malek. The chance meeting then spurs a series of misunderstandings and betrayals. Set in Jeddah, the show brushes on themes from gender relations and domestic issues to drug use and racial tensions.

“Just how Jeddah evolved, Takki evolved with it,” the show’s creator and director Mohammad Makki told The National last year. “The opening of the cinemas, women driving, the changes that happened in reality are paralleled in the show. Jeddah is beautiful, and we wanted to show that.”

'Finding Ola'

A decade after depicting the popular character in Ayza Atgawez, Egyptian-Tunisian actress Hend Sabri reprised her role as the young pharmacist Ola Abdelsabour in Finding Ola.

While the 2010 show told of Ola’s romantic misadventures as she set out to get married before turning 30, Finding Ola pulls back the curtain on what married life turned out like for the beloved pharmacist.

From the outside, she seems to have achieved the life she dreamt for herself in the original series, but as the cracks in her family’s relationship begin to appear, Ola has to reckon with how much of herself she has given up.

As the show’s title Finding Ola implies, the Arabic Netflix Original revolves around the character's attempts to rediscover herself in the wake of an event that upends the life she so meticulously tried to build.

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Updated: October 14, 2022, 4:03 AM
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