Ramadan, the holy month celebrated by nearly 2 billion Muslims around the world, is best known for giving, forgiving and connecting with your community.
But Ramadan would be incomplete without dipping dates in milk, eating knafeh — a traditional dessert of cream sandwiched between two pieces of shredded phyllo dough — and, of course, watching marathons of Egyptian TV after iftar (breaking fast.)
Yes, the holy month is about creating fruitful habits — and for the uninitiated, one of them is watching Egyptian TV shows. Egypt is known as the Hollywood of the Middle East and North Africa region, and since its TV production industry caters to the Ramadan audience annually, Egyptian TV shows are a staple for those who observe the gracious month, which begins this year on April 2.
Since some TV series are specifically released with this tradition in mind, that can mean catching a new episode every day. But you can also binge-watch an old favorite that captures the essence of Ramadan.
To help inspire you, we‘ve gathered seven shows to consider this year, all from or with a connection to Egypt, in genres including comedy, drama, action and more.
Unless otherwise noted, the place to stream the titles below is Sling Arabic TV, which offers the widest selection of the Ramadan TV series coming out of Egypt. (But don’t worry — if you’re not able to add another subscription to your monthly budget, we’ve included titles from Netflix and Hulu as well.)
1. ‘Rageen Ya Hawa’
The series follows an Egyptian immigrant in Europe who accumulates debt and decides to return to his country to claim an inheritance. Along the way, he attempts to reunite his fractured family. Starring international actor Khaled Al Nabawy and Lebanese actress Nour alongside Hana Shiha, Anoushka, Wafaa Amer, Salma Abu Deif and many others, the series is a remake of a 2004 radio series written by the late author Osama Anwar Okasha and takes its name from a famous song by the enchanting Lebanese singer Fairuz.
2. ‘Faten Amal Harby’
In this series, Egyptian actor Nelly Karim — a name synonymous with Ramadan melodrama — portrays a public sector worker named Faten Amal Harby, who faces societal pressure and oppression as a divorced woman in Egypt. The show is the first written by Egyptian journalist and screenwriter Ibrahim Eissa and co-stars Sherif Salama and Hala Sedki alongside Karim.
3. ‘Ahlam Saeeda’ (Sweet Dreams)
This year’s comedy series is led by Egyptian superstar Youssra, as well as Ghada Adel, Mai Kassab, Nour Mahmoud and Tamer Hagras. “Ahlam Saeeda” follows a high-society, middle-aged woman who suffers from insomnia and repeated nightmares that drive her to the edge of paranoia.
4. ‘Al-Kabeer Awy 6’ (The Grand Mayor)
“Al-Kabeer Awy” (The Grand Mayor) returns this Ramadan for its sixth season. It stars comedic geniuses Ahmed Mekky, Bayoumi Fouad, Mohamed Sallam and Hisham Ismail. Produced by Synergy production company, the new season is penned by Mostafa Sakr and helmed by Ahmed El-Gendy.
Since 2010, Ahmed Mekky has infused comedy into his portrayal of rural upper Egypt’s habits and norms. Through “Al Mazarita,” a fictional Egyptian village, he navigates his daily life as the village’s mayor and godfather of its tenants.
This Emmy-nominated Hulu series, starring series co-creator Ramy Youssef, follows its millennial protagonist as he navigates life as a first-generation American Muslim torn between the traditions of his Egyptian heritage and the American pop culture of his childhood.
If you don’t have time for a full binge, the first season’s fifth episode focuses on Ramadan.
6. ‘Love, Life & Everything in Between’
This Arab anthology series available on Netflix follows characters played by Rita Hayek, Ahmed Ezz, Asser Yassin, Pasant Shawky, Salah Abdallah and many more as they navigate Valentine’s Day. A romantic drama sprinkled with dark humor, “Love, Life & Everything in Between” examines expressions of love in many Arab countries, including Egypt, Lebanon, Tunisia, Morocco, Saudi Arabia and the Palestinian territories.
7. ‘Finding Ola’
Also streaming on Netflix, “Finding Ola” is a sequel to the 2010 Ramadan series “Ayza Atgawez” (I Want to Get Married).
The Tunisian Egyptian superstar Hend Sabry’s character, Ola Abdel-Sabour, embarks on a journey of self-reflection and revives her long-abandoned career after an abrupt divorce in this dramedy. Sabry stars alongside Sawsan Badr, Hany Adel, Nada Moussa and a number of upcoming Egyptian actors.
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