7 Arab Series and Films to Catch on Netflix this Ramadan
It’s going to be tough trying to get a full night’s sleep this Ramadan with what Netflix MENA has to offer.
If you weren’t in the know already, we’d like to gingerly remind you of Ramadan’s impending arrival next week, and although you’ll already have a whole hell of a lot to watch this holiest of months, Netflix are revving up their streaming engines to get away with a couple hours of our beauty sleep.
Capitalising on our all-too-human design flaws, Netflix are going to (happily) milk us for more than just one more episode with a lineup consisting of some of the Middle East’s best and brightest and most timeless productions to ever grace Arab screens. Nothing says ‘me time’ like a quiet of Netflix & (solo) Chill, so we’ve gone ahead and compiled some of the epic stuff they’ll be feeding our eyes, ears and minds this Ramadan. We’re nothing if not helpful.
Three brothers, a lot of cocaine and a pizza place. If that motley assortment of words doesn’t sell you already, you’re definitely a hard-sell, but we’ll throw in a few extras; an action-packed dark comedy encompassing Christian-Muslim relations, the kind of violent crime plaguing Beirut these days-ies, fraternal hardships and filmmaking (throw in some pizza too), Very Big Shot is an inventive and thrilling ride from start to finish for any would-be film buff, and it’s a perfect fit for those late Ramadan nights.
All things considered, crime really just doesn’t pay, but in this grim yet lighthearted Jordanian Dramedy, crime appears to have given lowly contractor Ahmed a bit of a reprieve from the hectic, often seedy dealings that life in Jordan seems to entail. Who would have thought a prison film without any horrific violence could be this much of a giggle-filled romp from start to finish? If you have a thing for finding freedom in odd places, outlandish and endearing characters, and goats, make sure to mark it on your nighttime calendar.
Hajwala; The Missing Engine - 2016
Not a whole lot of people besides Emiratis themselves know about the high-stakes underground racing scene that’s been a niche (and illegal) component of modern Emirati culture, and in Hajwala, you get to experience the kind of thrills, risks and life lessons that it all entails through the eyes of street racer Khalid. An untouched experimental engine, a good dash of crime drama and a few hundred gallons of fuel make for quite the interesting action adventure title; one that you shouldn’t even think of skipping.
Rattle the Cage / Zinzana – 2015
A unique and invariably world-class take on the neo-noir thriller genre (from the Emirates of all places), Rattle the Cage sees alcoholic Talal caught out alone in a prison cell way in a town out of both sight and mind, struggling with torturous visions of his alienated ex-wife and son, all the while stuck on the receiving end of a literal sadist’s twisted machinations. Prison might house criminals, but bad people aren’t always behind bars. If you have a thing for Tarantino-esque crime dramas hearkening back to 80’s thriller classics, make a grim mental note to watch it this Ramadan.
Just Like Us - 2010
There’s this melancholic misconception that Middle Easterners don’t have much of a sense of humour, which is, in itself, quite funny. To prove this to the world at large, and to break down a slew of cultural and political misconceptions while he’s at it, prolific Egyptian-American comedian Ahmed Ahmed (creativity be damned), accompanied by comedy icons such as Maz Jobrani and Omid Djalili, tours the Middle East in a lighthearted effort to bury the “Arabic concept” with a gaggle of giggles. Laughter is the best medicine, and Netflix is one hell of a good doctor.
Speed Sisters - 2015
We don’t even necessarily have to sell this one; it’s a full feature film about the Middle East’s first all-woman street car racing team from Palestine of all places. What more could you ask of a premise? These high-octane ladies take you on a breakneck speed journey into their full-throttle world (racing terminology is fun), furiously running over whatever patriarchal road bumps that may come. Fasten your seatbelts, put on a sturdy helmet and tune in this Ramadan for a ride unlike any other.
One of the best productions to ever enter the annals of Egyptian television, Grand Hotel sees a young Ali joining the ranks of the timelessly gorgeous Grand hotel in Aswan to figure out where his sister disappeared to. He didn’t plan on falling in love with the owner’s daughter though, but a better turn of events couldn’t have happened as both of them try to solve the mystery of the missing sister in the mythical halls of the Grand Hotel. If you haven’t already, watch the first ever Egyptian series to air on Netflix this Ramadan.
We wish each and every one of you a wholesome Ramadan and a pleasant viewing experience courtesy of the fine folks at Netflix MENA. Now if you’ll excuse us, we have to figure out how to incorporate both popcorn and konafa into one dish, cheers.