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Sultan Saeed Al Darmaki: Never did like television during Ramadan
August 03, 2012
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It has been over one week since Ramadan started and little by little everyone should be feeling less starved during their fasting. By the way, have any of you started to notice that the amount of hypocrisy that has been going on in the TV shows during this occasion?

Just the other day I was enjoying a nice post-Iftar coffee and right in front of me was the TV showcasing mediocrity as usual but somehow during Ramadan it tends to take it to a whole new level.

Here is an example of what is shown in about 15 minutes time: Advertisement about saving your money followed by advertisement about buying a new car followed by another save your money ad followed by a commercial about the new Ramadan fast food meal combo (which is basically the same as a regular combo but with a crescent and a couple of stars on the packaging) which is then followed by advertisement for “ethical” lottery, then we watch about 2 minutes of a TV show and then it is back to save your money adverts.

Now take that 15 minutes and multiply it by 2,880 and what you get is the complete TV programming schedule for Ramadan on every MENA (Middle East & North Africa) region channels. Now only are the adverts repeated but so are the actors and cartoons characters that are featured in them, in fact you will find them being used in all of the adverts.

The kids with high pitch voices, animated ethnicity mockeries, middle-aged Botox addicts and other zero dimensional character-actors are all over the place, it is like they were hibernating for 11 months then come out during Ramadan and get featured in everything such as their shows and the advertisements that come before and after them.

Am I saying that I have had enough of them? The truth is that I have enough of them from 4 or 5 years ago but in the end I just have to accept that fact that if this is what the people want then this is what will the people get. But I do believe that people can change their wants if they were exposed to better things at a healthier variety.

I guess what I am asking for is to have TV programmes that are (Do I dare say it?) intellectually stimulating and different. It is not much to ask; after all we want to show people the true spirit of Ramadan without having the TV (which is probably the only thing that keeps families seated together in one place) contradicting itself by switching itself back and forth from televangelists to flirtatious show host, from drama to melodrama, from frugality to leisurely and from virtue to vice.

Even though I may be talking about the TV shows, but there is much more to it than that during Ramadan, I find that most people tend to go into hibernation mode especially on the social media networks. Entertainment of oneself has been an issue during this time, I am pretty sure that there is more to do in Ramadan than just waiting for Iftar to come then spend 7 hours in the shisha cafes and watch TV.

Oh well...might as well remain positive that next Ramadan we will be seeing a change in programming that will enlighten the viewers with delightful things instead of filling them up with nonsense. I want to see shows that can remain entertaining all year round instead of just being spammed and crammed into one month.

You know what? This is probably me just talking during a lack of caffeine phase. On second thought, we shouldn’t bother trying to get better MENA programmes when you can already find solace on the Food Network, Cartoon Network, Discovery Channel and Animal Planet. Thank God for globalisation, anyways I think I hear the Maghreb prayer...time to break my fast with dates and water then rush straight for the coffee.
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The writer, based in Abu Dhabi,
is a graduate of New York Institute
of Technology (AD). He is the author
of Under My Black Halo.

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