Ramadan TV picks 2017: Gharabeeb Soud, Al Hayba, and Awnak

We bring you the new shows that will be aired during Ramadan.

Gharabeeb Soud. Courtesy Abu Dhabi TV
Powered by automated translation

Gharabeeb Soud

Just as we had feared, Gharabeeb Soud (Black Crows) makes for some difficult viewing this Ramadan. With images of child soldiers being brainwashed and told how to kill in cold blood, of women used as concubines for the pleasure of the men of ISIL, of an army of disillusioned women being formed to "invade the Muslim world and take over their countries", the series is as dark and disturbing as anyone could have anticipated.

Set in Raqqa, a city east of Aleppo in Syria, which is today considered to be the capital of ISIL, the show is not solely dominated by the stories of females.

Child snipers are seen being trained on how to kill, and training involves actually killing people. Both children and women are abused; in the third episode in particular, young boys training to become soldiers are sexually abused by ISIL’s male members.

The filming itself is dark and grainy, in reverence to the subject matter, and one feels like a horror story is unfolding, which is made even more frightening when you realise that everything happening on screen is based on reality.

And kudos to Egyptian actor Sayed Ragab, who plays the role of the mufti of ISIL, often described in the show as the “Prince of Daesh”. He is absolutely and convincingly terrifying in the role. There’s no question where MBC stands on the spread of ISIL: it is pure evil and must be resisted.

Airs daily at midnight on MBC and Abu Dhabi TV. It is also being broadcast on LBC and Future TV

Al Hayba

This is the third Ramadan in a row for the charismatic duo –Nadine Njeim from Lebanon and Taim Hasan from Syria – to appear in a drama together, following the success of Cello in 2015 and Nos Youm (Half a Day) last year.

Their projects always feature a mixed Syrian and Lebanese cast and crew, and are often based on an old Hollywood favourite. Cello, for example, was based on Indecent Proposal, a 1993 movie starring Robert Redford and Demi Moore.

Njeim plays the role of Alia, an educated, cultured and elegant Lebanese-Canadian whose husband has just died. Based on his final request to be buried in his hometown of Al Hayba, on the border between Lebanon and Syria, Alia travels back to Lebanon with her young son to bring her husband’s body to his family.

The head of the family, described as a ruling tribe of the area, is Jabal, played by Hasan.

The family is feared in the area; they are smugglers and deal with weapons trading.

When they learn of the existence of Alia’s son, they insist he must remain with his tribe. Alia is now faced with a difficult choice: to leave her son, or to be forced into marrying her dead husband’s brother, Jabal.

The show combines romance with drama, set in the mountains of Lebanon; it’s an impressive production and bonus.

It also stars Syrian actress Muna Wassef as the family matriarch.

Airs daily on MBC Drama at 9pm and on MTV Lebanon at 10.10pm

Awnak

Charismatic Emirati news anchor and local news correspondent Ahmad Al Yamahi is the host of Awnak (Your Help) on Abu Dhabi TV, a show that documents the efforts, projects and initiatives of the Emirates Red Crescent across the globe.

Fans of the feel-good factor of a home makeover show for a family in need will enjoy this season’s episodes so far.

Refugees living in squalor are taken for a fun day out and accompanied on a shopping spree for new clothes, while a team of young volunteers from the Emirates Red Crescent furnish their home with new items.

One episode also dealt with launching a health awareness and vaccine campaign among children in Somalia.

The show is a perfect Ramadan fare. It’s a lesson in sacrifice, in the pleasure that comes out of bringing happiness to others and in the importance of standing by our fellow human beings when they need our help.

In our opinion, Awnak is the most inspiring sort of viewing during a month focused on holiness, kindness, caring and above all, charity and good deeds.

Airs daily on Abu Dhabi TV, immediately after iftar, at 7.20pm