Abu Dhabi TV takes tribes series off air



ABU DHABI // Abu Dhabi TV has taken the controversial Ramadan television miniseries Sadoun Al Awaji off the air by order of Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed, the President of the UAE and Ruler of Abu Dhabi, after prominent Arab tribes portrayed in the show raised serious complaints about their depiction. The 30-episode nightly drama about the historic figure Sheikh Sadoun Al Awaji was pulled following its Sunday night broadcast after Sheikh Khalifa received appeals from the Anazah and Shammar tribes. Abu Dhabi TV, which aired the show, is owned by Abu Dhabi Media Company, which also publishes The National. Officials at Abu Dhabi TV declined to comment about the show's cancellation, but sources at the station said they had received a number of calls about the fate of the soap. The Saudi press has reported that members of the two influential tribes had protested about the broadcasting of both series. The series, which is about Al Awaji and tribal conflicts of 1750 and 1830, is estimated to have cost US$2.5 million (Dh9.2m). It starred the Syrian actor Rashid Assaf and also featured actors from Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Qatar. The Syrian city of Tadmur was chosen as the location as it resembles the areas in which the Anazah, Al Awaji's tribe, lived. Viewers tuning in to the channel at 10pm will now see the Zahrat al Narjis drama series, which is being brought forward from its usual 11pm slot. A second soap opera, Finjan al Dam, which was also due to air over the month of Ramadan on Saudi Arabia's MBC channel, was cancelled last week as well. Set in the 19th century, the show's plot revolves around tribal conflict and also features the old tribes. Dr Ali al Matroushi, a historian and an expert on tribal lineage, said: "All of this proves that even after hundreds of years, the tribal traditions and their feuds are still strong." He said the story of Al Awaji was very popular, with many books written about it. But he added that portraying the story in a big-budget TV production during Ramadan, "when everyone is watching", may have been too much. "The descendants of the tribes pay close attention to every detail about their tribes," he said. rghazal@thenational.ae

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