TV & the Arab World

Full disclosure: Except for a touristy camel-ride/temple-visit/trinket-shop/Nile-cruise-buffet trip through Egypt, I don’t know much about the Arab world. I’ve started to realize why that is and try to change it. Admittedly, my stereotypes have been shattered to pieces in a matter of days.

According to Fatema Mernissi in On Shifting Ground: Muslim Women in the Global Era, satellite TV is changing the Arab world. More than half of broadcasters are women, and they are more often hired for their intelligence and strength than their looks (unlike U.S. TV broadcasters), and increasing numbers of women are directing, producing and editing shows.

Satellite broadcasting allows a more diverse range of voices, and has the edge of being able to bypass illiteracy, so people who can’t read can still find out what’s going on. PBS has a documentary on one talk show called Kalam Nawaem, modeled on The View, on which women discuss issues ranging from sexuality to terrorism. 200 million people watch it every Sunday night. Check it out here.

We all have expectations of people from different places that have been shaped by the media. Contrasting these images with the images of real people going about their daily lives usually shows a huge disparity. Take a look.

video credit: PBS

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