Turkish series are now dominating the Arab world. Egypt is no exception. Although they may last for 120 episodes or even more, many people prefer watching them to other shows and never seem to get bored.
“I love the Turkish series because they are so romantic, and because of their amazing nature – the sea and the mountains. I think this kind of nature attracts people to go and visit Turkey,” Merna Hossam, an Egyptian social media specialist, said.
“Also they have clean places and clean buildings, watching the Turkish series in general gives me a feeling of calm and comfort.”
Sara Saeed, a news analyst, likes the romance and the settings of Turkish shows, which are widely available on Arab satellite networks.
“They make us feel as if we are living with them, I also love their clothes and style. Everything actually is awesome in that kind of series including their incredible nature. My favourite series are Noor, Fatma, Harim El Sultan, and Nada El Omr.”
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In 2010, Turkey got 67 million dollars in income solely from exporting TV series to Arab countries. The popularity of Turkish soap operas in the region also makes tourists eager to see the Ottoman palaces, ancient sites of Istanbul, and other locations featured in the television series.
While Turkey saw a decline in tourists from North America and Western Europe during the first quarter of 2012, visitors from Arab countries continued to increase significantly. According to Ynet, tourism from Libya and Qatar in 2011 exploded by 535% and 107% respectively. These figures cannot simply be accredited to the export of television, but the TV series have undoubtedly become a valuable PR tool for the country.
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The attractive stories are why Nourhan Gamal, a customer service representative, loves Turkish television.
“I watch these series in the Turkish language on the Internet every week and this is way much better than watching long episodes on a daily basis for months.”
But not everyone is positive about Turkey conquering Arab TV sets.
''They are boring and full of problems, I hate that their series are so long, a hundred and something episodes, and they exaggerate their problems,” said Yousra, a mass communication graduate, although admitting that they have very talented actors.
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For Rana M. Taha, a journalist at the The Daily News Egypt, the fact that these shows mostly drag on for at least a 100 episodes is one of their biggest drawbacks.
“99% of the time, only the first few episodes are good and enticing. I don't like the fact that they all revolve around the same plot; people in love and meeting difficulties in their relationships,” she said.
“Watching too many Turkish series is bound to get boring since they all resemble each other. Mostly I watch them to kill time. I rarely watch one series from the start to the end.”