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To everyone worried about an outbreak of war in the Middle East, we say that in fact, war has already broken out between Egypt and Syria. It is no secret to anyone that the most important drama series are produced in these two countries. However, the mutual accusations that the two countries cast at one another have reached an unprecedented level. On the one hand, the popular Egyptian actor Hussein Fahmi said, “The smallest actor in Egypt could challenge the biggest actor in Syria.” On the other hand, prominent Syrian actor Abbas al Nouri said, “The smallest dabka dancer (traditional folk dance of the Levant) in Syria would perform better than any Egyptian actor.” Moreover, Najdat Anwar and Ahmed Maher contributed to the scale of the debate.

Rather than ending, the conflict between Syria and Egypt over television drama series is expected to intensify in light of the increasingly large expenditure on television series. Perhaps this rivalry is “exactly” what was needed in order for Arab dramas to develop. Egyptian drama, which has produced remarkable works such as the great epic ‘Layali al Hilmiya’ (Hilmiya Nights) and other successful series such as ‘A’ilat Hajj Metawalli’ (The Family of Hajj Metawalli), ‘Ra’afat al Hagan’ and others, has been afflicted by laziness only to witness the rise of Syrians with their distinctive productions such as ‘Layali al Salihia’ (Salihia Nights), ‘Bab al Hara’ (The Quarter’s Gate), and ‘Khan al Harir’. Instead of there being integration and cooperation between Egyptian and Syrian cadres as in, for example, the production of ‘King Farouk’, abuse is being hurled and the worst accusations are being cast. What is interesting, however, is that these accusations have emanated from those who once exported nationalism, Arabism and other broken political records of Nasserism, Baathism etc.

The issue has turned into a unique national one, which is an example of the failure that affected emotional proposals that chant empty slogans. It is very clear that the produced series have come to form a complete economy affecting many complementary industries. In addition, such series have become an important source of influence. For instance, if large amounts of money were spent on books and symposiums that focused on the era of the monarchy in Egypt, it would not have had the same impact as the recent series ‘King Farouk’ did. Furthermore, ‘Bab al Hara’ presented the most aesthetical creative work on the ancient Syrian traditions in a more effective manner than anything that the two ministries of information and tourism or parties and newspapers could have done. Television dramas are no longer just a form of entertainment; they have become educational and effective, which consequently requires improving the method of competition in a serious manner rather than these shameful competitive “spirit”.

Hussein Shobokshi

Hussein Shobokshi

Hussein Shobokshi is a businessman and prominent columnist. Mr. Shobokshi hosts the weekly current affairs program Al-Takreer on Al-Arabiya, and in 1995 he was chosen as one of the "Global Leaders for Tomorrow" by the World Economic Forum. He received his BA in Political Science and Management from the University of Tulsa.

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