A thought-provoking new sitcom drama commissioned by SAT-7 ARABIC offers Middle Eastern viewers new perspectives on gender equality, racism, disability rights, freedom of religion and more.
Produced by Cairo-based production house, Arascope, The Wall centres on married psychologists Sara and Adel, who share a single office partitioned by a wall. Their relationship is as divided as their Cairo-based clinic: he thinks she should stay at home with their children, while she thinks they should do more for their patients.
When the couple discover a futuristic new psychological technique that allows them to inhabit the minds of their patients, literally seeing through their eyes, they begin a journey of discovery that broadens their perspectives – and helps them understand each other.
SAT-7 believes this is a powerful way to engage wide audiences and create positive change in cultures that love traditional storytelling, TV soaps and drama of all kinds.
“Storytelling, as in this drama, is the best way to communicate with viewers. It really catches their attention. And it encourages us to look at modern life, and its struggles, through different eyes,” says SAT-7 ARABIC Programming Manager George Makeen.
Through The Wall’s 26 episodes, Sara and Adel confront many societal issues common in the Middle East and North Africa, enabling viewers to see them from different perspectives and develop their empathy. Weighty subjects like racial, religious and disability discrimination, early marriage, and corruption are all embedded in compelling story lines and laced with humour.
“When we are laughing, things make sense,” explains storytelling expert Layal Ghanem. “We don’t feel attacked. If we can relate to a character who is doing wrong, sometimes our defence mechanisms kick in. But if we are laughing, we loosen up – and we start listening.”
As viewers develop a new outlook on freedom of religion and belief, unity within diversity, minority rights and freedom of speech, the hope is that they will interact positively with those who are different, and share their understanding with others.
A key theme of the programme is personal development, specifically the idea that even if their society does not encourage progress, individuals have the capacity to make changes in their own lives – no matter their age or stage in life.
The 30-minute sitcom is part of a wider SAT-7 ARABIC project that includes a young adult talk show, You Enlighten Us, and a series of public service announcements with simple, powerful messages. Funded by the Norwegian Mission Society, all these are designed to promote human rights in the Arab world.