The arrival of Ramadan marks the beginning of the Arab television industry’s annual blockbuster season.
Regional channels and streaming services will all be vying for eyeballs as they unleash dozens of high-profile shows featuring the finest actors from the Arab world.
From dramas and comedies to quiz shows, this Ramadan TV season caters to all members of the family.
With so much to pick from, spread across dozens of channels, The National has made it easier you to choose what to watch by providing an extensive list of some of the key programmes coming your way.
All shows listed below are screened daily throughout Ramadan, though the broadcast times of some programmes have not yet been revealed. For those yet to be determined, it is recommended to visit the host channel’s website for screening details.
With no further ado, here are some of the best dramas and entertainment programmes coming your way.
1. 'Al Ikhtiyar' (MBC Drama)
In one of the most anticipated dramas of the year, Amir Karara channels his trademark intensity in this biopic of Egyptian army colonel Ahmed Al Mansi. Renowned as the leader of elite tactical group The Thunderbolt Forces, the series traces his career and his tragic death in a 2017 terrorist attack in Northern Sinai.
2. 'Sultana Al Moez', 10pm daily (OSN ART: Drama)
This series managed to complete its shoot just in time for Ramadan. Egyptian screen stalwart Ghada Abdel Razek plays a strong-willed character who runs a food truck business in Al Moez Street, selling liver meat. Her finances go up and down after she gets involved in an unlikely relationship.
3. 'El Prince' (MBC 1)
After the success of 2016's high voltage thriller Al Ostoura, Egyptian action man Mohamed Ramadan teams up, once again, with director Mohamed Sami in what is promised to be an exciting crime family saga.
4. 'Al Saahir' (Abu Dhabi TV)
Syrian star Salam Ksiri leads this taut Lebanese drama. He plays Mina, who hopes to turn his fortunes by seeking the help of astrologer Aziz (Stephanie Saliba). Their stormy relationship leads to Mina falling out with senior political figures and before long, he is on the run.
5. 'Forsa Tanya', 11pm daily (OSN ART: Drama)
Recently married Egyptian star Yasmine Sabri plays the lovelorn Malak. Her intense need to succeed in her role as an engineer allows her to fall prey to the greedy businessman.
6. 'Jama' Salem', 2am on the second day of Ramadan (OSN ART: Drama)
Egyptian star Zeina stars in this family drama about four sisters. After their house is destroyed and parents pass away, all are adopted by separate families. Time and fate conspire to bring them back together years later.
7. 'Laialina 80', 1am from the second day of Ramadan (OSN ART: Drama)
The title of this show means "Our Nights 80". Jordanian actor Eyad Nassar stars in this modern period drama that takes place between the 1950s and 1980s in Egypt. The film follows the epic falling out of two families and how the hatred is festered over the decades and generations. The show also stars Egyptian actors Ghada Adel and Khaled El Sawy.
8. 'Al Mirath' (MBC 1)
This is a Saudi Arabian production with an Abu Dhabi twist. Al Mirath (The Inheritance), dubbed the Arab world's first soap opera, will continue daily throughout Ramadan and beyond.
The series – developed by MBC Studios, twofour54 and Image Nation Abu Dhabi – aims to showcase the modern day realities of life in the kingdom through the experiences of a Saudi family. Since this is a soap opera, expect the usual rivalries and the occasional scandal.
9. 'Al Nahaat' (Abu Dhabi TV)
This romance series is a Syrian-Lebanese joint production and boasts stellar leads Bassel Khayyat and Algerian singer Amel Bouchoucha. The latter plays Maya who, in her search for clues behind her mother’s death, falls in love with the mysterious Yaman (Khayyat). Their subsequent relationship is as passionate as it is doomed.
10. 'Alkhawabit' (ready to streamed on Viu)
This is an anthology series that looks at the lifestyle and values that comes with life in the Palestinian countryside. Starring in the series are the Jordanian actors Eyad Nassar and Abeer Issa.
11. 'Jannat Halli' (Abu Dhabi TV)
The always brilliant Souad Al Abdallah leads a big cast in this Kuwaiti drama. The series is cross-generational saga about family and examines the notion of unconditional love in a Kuwait that’s rapidly changing and modernising.
12. 'Darb Alshahama' (Wousta TV from Al Dhaid)
Horses and action abound in this Jordanian tribal series, starring Abir Isa and Jameel Barahmeh. The plot follows a bandit's quest to seek revenge against another tribe for the death of his wife and unborn child.
13. 'Mohamed Ali Road' (Sharjah TV)
The plot of the Kuwaiti romantic drama, named after a main thoroughfare in Kuwait City, is inspired by the famous saying of the late Colombian author Gabriel Garcia Marquez: “All human beings have three lives: public, private, and secret.” Led by stars Saad Al Faraj and Hiba Al Durri, the series follows a tumultuous relationship that takes place during the Gulf nation's pre-oil boom of the 1940s.
14. 'Shahid Ain' (ready to streamed on Viu)
With the title meaning 'eye witness', this pensive drama stars Egyptian actor Hassan El Raddad who plays a cop caught up in a dramatic case involving his wife and her sisters.
15. 'Fi Dhakrat Al Dhil' (Sharjah TV)
This is another Kuwaiti show packed with star power. The indomitable Dawood Hussein leads a strong cast that includes Abeir El Gendy and Shaima Ali. The societal drama looks at how a split decision can change the course of one’s life.
16. 'Ka'ana shayyaan lm yakun' (Sharqiyah TV from Kalba)
The title translates to “like nothing happened” and the plot of this Kuwaiti series unfolds in both the present and late 1990s. It follows wealthy socialite Laila (Zahra Arafat), who suffers from depression after a string of personal setbacks.
17. 'Bayt Al Buyut' (Sharqiyah TV from Kalba)
Veteran Kuwaiti actor Soliman Elyassin leads a multigenerational cast, including Abdul Mohsen Elnamr and Maram Al Balushi, in this drama that explores the challenges facing families and youth as a result of Kuwaiti society's class divide.
18. 'Al Shahd Al Murr' (Emarat TV)
Emirati actor and playwright Habib Ghuloom returns with another provocative Ramadan drama. The show examines the concept of marriage through two distinct relationships. Suhail is having trouble navigating a relationship between his two strong-willed wives Moza and Tarish, while Suhail’s brother is married to Noura. Tensions between both brothers and wives festers in a drama that will surely get people talking.
19. 'Khashe’ Nashe' (Emarat TV)
A sweet comedy set in an Emirati village in the 1960s. Stars Abdullah Zayed and Jomaa Bin Ali give us a glimpse of a simpler time in their role as brothers coming to terms with a rapidly evolving UAE.
20. 'Miftah Al Qifl' (Emarat TV)
Written in the Emirati dialect, this series stars local stalwarts Jaber Naghmoush and Mais Kamara. The zingy plot revolves around the luckless artist Miftah and his relentless quest to become a celebrity.
21. 'Valentino' (MBC 1)
The Ramadan TV landscape just wasn't the same last year due to the absence of Adel Imam. After sitting out 2019's batch of shows, the legendary Egyptian actor and comic returns as the star of Valentino.
In this comedy, Imam plays the title character, who owns a large school franchise in Egypt. It doesn’t take long to realise that Valentino is a shady businessman. However, that gravy train is about to stop once his headmistress wife (Dalia Elbeheri) – a disciplinarian both at home and in the classroom – finds out about his schemes.
22. 'Makhraj 7' (MBC 1)
One of the greatest comedic chroniclers of Saudi Arabian life is back with another Ramadan offering. After giving us a glimpse of the kingdom before its oil boom in last year's Al Assouf, Nasser Al Qasabi returns with the sitcom Makhraj 7.
Translated as Exit 7, the series has Al Qasabi playing a lowly government clerk stuck working in the complaints department. Set in present-day Saudi Arabia, even the coronavirus gets a mention in the show, with the actor's character juggling concerns heard both at work and home.
23. 'Ramez Majnoun Rasmi' (MBC 1)
Will you laugh or cry? That has always been the line notorious Egyptian prankster Ramez Galal skirted with during his popular yet controversial series. Once again, expect Galal to lure his A-list guests (past episodes include a flight gone wrong with Paris Hilton) into what they think is a benign meeting before drama ensues and celebrities are reduced to a teary mess.
Update: While this listing has been written as a preview, the show has since its airing caused much controversy, with many viewers stating that it has crossed the lines of an entertainment show.
24. 'Reggalet Al Beit' (Abu Dhabi TV)
Translated to "men of the house", Egypt’s Ahmed Fahmy and Akram Hosny play a pair of careless cousins fighting an eviction notice by a livid landlord. In order to win that battle, they have to prove they have what it takes to run a household, while finding ways to pay their longstanding rent.
25. 'Mahadesh Fahem Haga' (MBC 1)
If Ramez Galal’s hair-raising shtick doesn’t tickle your funny bone, then you might enjoy this charming and low-key affair. Translated as "no one understands a thing”, celebrity comic Mohamed Tharwat hits the street in disguise and asks ordinary people to do unusual things.
Culture and history
26. 'Rijalon Sadako' (Abu Dhabi TV)
An informative bite-sized selection of evocative quotes by the nation’s founder Sheikh Zayed. Aired throughout the month, these intimate five-minute segments recall Sheikh Zayed’s pioneering views on tradition, UAE culture, education and spirituality.
27. 'Al Shara' (Emarat TV)
Ramadan TV would not be complete without a nightly game show. Al Shara returns to test your knowledge of Emirati culture with questions based on local crafts, proverbs, dialects and key moments in history.
28. 'Madafi’ Iftar' (Sharjah TV)
In the same fashion as last year, the channel will mark the end of the fasting day by broadcasting the live firing of a cannon from the Buhaira waterfront. This year, however, due to social distancing measures put in place by the Sharjah government, members of the public will not be in attendance.
29. 'Ramadan, Dhalik Al Zaman' (Wousta TV from Al Dhaid)
The title means "Ramadan, that time" and this programme asks seasoned Sharjah residents about what life during the holy month was like back in the 1970s and 1980s.
30. 'Nujoum Al Sharjah' (Sharjah TV)
We join Emirati presenter Humaid Al Awadi as he interviews celebrities and cultural figures at many of Sharjah's key landmarks. Expect episodes shot at the majestic Al Qasba waterfront district and amid the greenery of Flag Island.
For the food lovers
31. 'May's Kitchen', 7pm daily (OSN Yahala Al Oula)
Join Egyptian chef and Dubai resident May Yacoub in her kitchen as she cooks up dishes from home. The recipes are straightforward and tailor-made to feed a hungry family.
32. 'Al Matbakh Al Arabi', 6.30pm daily (OSN Yahala Al Oula)
The Lebanese celebrity chef Suleiman Al Khownud and his black cap return with a new 30-part series exploring Mediterranean cuisine. Each episode looks at savoury and dessert dishes from different countries in the region, as Al Khownud gives them a deft Arabian twist.
33. 'Hala B Ramadan' (MBC 1)
Learn to prepare your favourite regional dish from some of the Arab world’s finest cooks. Each episode will host a celebrity Arab chef as they provide tips on how to elevate simple dishes into Instagram-ready fare.
34. 'Matbakh Manal Alalem' 1pm (Fatafeat )
Chef Manal Alalem is known as the Queen of the Arabian Kitchen and this year each of her new episodes will showcase a four-course set menu that’s perfect for iftar or suhoor. She’ll demonstrate how to make a different appetiser, main course, dessert and drink in each instalment, and will even whip out a few of her own recipe creations.