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Al Kahera Wal Nas: Cairo’s Ramadan Series Master

Al Kahera Wal Nas: Cairo’s Ramadan Series Master
    written by
    Haisam Abu-Samra

    Before Cairo
    became the city of ten million satellite dishes, families used to gather around
    the TV set every Ramadan to watch either of the state-run and ingeniously
    titled Channel 1 or Channel 2. This post-fetar ritual became a yearly
    television tradition. With the deluge of satellite channels, TV series and shows
    became dispersed among different satellite networks, and the programming itself
    was inconsistent to say the least. Gone was the unity of the experience that
    brought us all together.

    Last year, advertising tycoon Tarek Nour and his agency Tarek Nour
    Communications (TNC for short) tapped into this vacuum and came up with a solution,
    Al Kahera Wal Nas (or Cairo Centric); the one-stop
    channel to end all perpetual channel surfing. This channel basically brought together
    the most popular Ramadan TV series and talk-shows under one umbrella. Plus,
    they produced their own edgy content as filler between the segments, which
    proved to be as entertaining and popular as the blockbuster TV shows.

    TNC are no strangers to television programming themselves: the agency has
    been producing Ramadan TV shows for the last two decades. By the mid-2000s, TNC
    had bought the entire post-fetar time block on the biggest two local TV
    stations; so having their own channel seemed like the next step.

    Al Kahera Wal Nas premiered in
    2009, promising to air only the best in Egyptian TV and only for the month of
    Ramadan. Billing itself as ‘the most daring channel in Ramadan’ because of its unprecedented
    concept, the channel became arguably the most successful and popular TV
    channel in Egypt. It aired not only the best TV shows, but also interspersed the segments
    with commercials produced almost entirely by Tarek Nour’s advertising agency; thus obtaining an enviable
    stronghold on Egyptian TV. And true to its word; the channel
    closed shop right after the end of Ramadan, promising to return in 2010.

    How successful can a channel be if it only runs for one month? Well, committing to a seasonal schedule makes sense in terms of
    credibility, and it’s also economically viable: Ramadan advertising accounts for
    60% of the TV industry’s revenues. Plus having only one month of content to
    produce allows for a higher budget and a better quality of production.  

    After gaining public attention last year with controversial and
    star-studded talk show interviews by Tony Khalife and Lamis El Hadidy, Al
    Kahera Wal Nas is back this year with an enviable line-up of all major TV
    series, such as Al
    Gamaa
    , Al Aar and Cleopatra.

    Again, a buffet of exclusive talk shows (from gossipy to
    in-depth-interviews) will be aired throughout the night after fetar. The highlight
    is Tony Khalife’s show (now called Belesan Moaredek, or In Your Opponent’s
    Words) that interviews celebrities such as Ragheb Alama, Carol Samaha and actress
    Zeina, who
    will open up for the first time about her sister’s cocaine arrest – it’s ok,
    she got paid US$40,000 to ease the pain.

    El Hadidy has been replaced by Wafaa El Kilany, another blunt hardball interviewer,
    who has already made waves with her controversial interview with Ghada Abdel
    Razeq. Last of all, renowned Lebanese journalist Nidal El Ahmadieh is set to interview
    much talked about figures such as Rami Ayash and Susan Tamim’s lawyer. All of
    the top-notch dramas will be aired after fetar, with re-runs at noon the
    following day. What makes Al Kahera Wel Nas a cut above the rest is its
    censorship-free airing. As it’s a private channel, it’s able to air Al Gamaa in
    its full, unedited version. The more controversial, the better, we say!

    TV drama aside, the channel has produced its very own fawazeer
    series with the always-bubbly Myriam Fares in Fawazeer Myriam. One wonders how many costume designers suffered
    sleep deprivation as a direct result of working on this show. Each episode (or
    riddle) is divided into three segments. First, you get to guess what line of
    work Miss Fares got herself into. Second, Fares will bust a dance number and
    you have to guess which country the dance came from. Third– and this is the
    money right here – Fares recreates an old Tarek Nour commercial and you have to
    guess (more like remember) the name of the product.

    As for comedy, Mekki’s Al Kebeer
    Awi
    and its pop-culture humour is your best bet for laughs, while the
    filler show Bahs Midan Zai El Assal
    has been attracting a lot of viewers this Ramadan. The short segment consists
    of a TV interviewer masked as a researcher asking random people on the street some
    hilarious questions. As Egyptians, we rarely admit to not knowing the answer to
    a question; and thanks to our amazing ability to make up stuff on the spot,
    hilarity ensues on this show.

    Stay tuned for extensive reviews all through the month of shows airing
    on Al Kahera Wal Nas.

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