Pan-Arabism through Television: Arab TV Series between National Identities and Transnational Media
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In her 2007 book, Naomi Sakr wrote that the most effective feature of the Arab media system was the common language shared among all the Arab countries. This aspect, although realized and valued by different political and media institutions at the dawn of radio and television, led to a transnational media landscape transcending national boundaries. It also favoured the birth and development of a regional market – like those in the United States and Latin America – that could create a “pan-Arab space”. Since the beginning of the 2000s, Arab television has followed the construction of “pan-Arabism” combining the burgeoning free-market approach and the development of entertainment programmes and formats specifically relevant to that part of the world. In this process, we can observe the emergence of a particular type of fiction, called musalsalat, i.e. soap operas and series airing for a single 30-day period, mirroring the duration of Ramadan. Unlike other genres, such as reality shows or game shows influenced by Western programmes (and often adapted from Western formats), musalsalat can be considered a specific format devised and produced for a particular socio-cultural context.
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