Every Sunday evening, millions of Arab men and women watch the bold talk show from MBC Kalam Nawaem – literally “women’s talk”. For fifteen years, MBC Kalam Nawaem has been the best watched program in the Arab world. The popular presenters of Kalam Nawaem have conquered a permanent place in numerous hearts and in MBC and help to shape a new arab society.
This unique talk show was already the topic of a VPRO backlight broadcast in 2007. Ten years later, director Bregtje van der Haak, who was also three times a guest in the talk show, returns to the changing rooms in Beirut. What does the Middle East look like in the eyes of the presenters Muna Abu Sulayman and Nadia Ahmad? Is there a future beyond today’s chaos? What has changed in the last 10 years?
The talk show Kalam Nawaem is a gold mine for the Saudi owner Sheikh Waleed Al Ibrahim. The beautiful presenters discuss weekly current events and do not avoid any taboo topics. Sensitive issues such as adultery, punishment with whipping and terrorism are discussed. The ladies are important role models and their opinion counts. With the rise of social media, their influence has increased even further. The power of this talk show is that the progressive and the conservative voices of the Arab world are brought together on one stage. Kalam Nawaem manages to make a bridge between both sides. The heated conversations in the talk show help to take the first important steps in the area of women’s rights and help to shape a new Arab society.
Recently, the talk show got a facelift. In order to attract a younger audience, the young, unmarried and sexy presenter Nadia Ahmad from Kuwait was brought in. With her girlfriends she races in her white sports car, on her way to a basketball game and she drinks cocktails on a terrace.
Muna Abu Sulayman
Saudi Muna Abu Sulayman, divorced mother of two daughters, has been the veiled face of the show from the beginning. She has 1.2 million friends on Facebook and another hundred thousands on Snapchat, Twitter and Instagram. She takes this responsibility very seriously. Just now that the Arab spring has degenerated into an Arab nightmare, intellectual Muna wants to bring hope with her positive messages. She works for millions of refugees in the region and travels around the world as a speaker and UN representative. At her home in Riyadh, she organizes a philosophical reading club for women and poses tirelessly for selfies with her countless fans, of which you only see the eyes: the only visible feature under the black niqabs.
Original title: The return to the satellite queens
With: Muna Abu Sulayman (Saudi presenter talk show Kalam Nawaem), Nidal Zein (head production MBC) and Nadia Ahmad (Kuwaiti presenter talk show Kalam Nawaem).
Originally broadcasted by VPRO in 2017.
© March 2017
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Director: Bregtje van der Haak
Research: Daisy Mohr
Camera: Maasja Ooms
Sound: Rik Meier
Video edit: Milika de Jonge
English, French and Spanish subtitles: Ericsson.
French and Spanish subtitles are co-funded by European Union.