From Dubai to Athens, via Pakistan, the Middle East and the Balkans , everyone is appreciating Turkish television series.
In 2011 Turkey rose to be the second largest producer of series after the United States with more than 150 million viewers in 76 countries.
It all began in 2005 with the series Noor ( Gumus in Turkish, money in French): It is a love story featuring a couple: Noor and Mohannad .Mohannad is the role played by the “Brad Pitt” of the Turkish world: KivancTatlitug .
Following the accidental death of his girlfriend Nihal ,Muhannad goes through a serious depression .His grandfather decides to marry Noor ,a young woman from the countryside that Mohannad was in love with as a child. After their marriage, the couple is then drawn into a whirlwind of epic events : kidnapping , imprisonment, assassination attempts, etc. A story that touched an impressive number of people.
Since then, national and satellite television in the Arab world sells Turkish series.
The last episode of the series waswatched by 85 million viewers in the Arab world , and the effects on the Turkish economy are immediately felt. The last few years have seen an increase in tourists from the Arab countries and the Balkans.
The Director of the Tunisian Turkish Airlines office ,MetinGozuacik confirms : “Turkey is for the Tunisians the number 1 destination for honeymooners . The number of Kuwaiti tourists, Saudi and Gulf has tripled in just two years.
“GulMufagi ” is a small restaurant on the Asian side of Istanbul which features in the series.
Since it appeared in the series ” What is the crime of Aysegul ” ( aysegulun sucu ne? in Turkish) CuneytSahin, the restaurant owner, sees a turnover on average of 250 tourists a day .
” Aysegulun sucu ne? ” This is the story of woman raped and forced to marry one of her attackers.
Cuneyt Sahin can not change the decoration of the restaurant because tourists want to see the same small details as in the series
And that’s not all ; middle eastern women stormed the plastic surgery clinics in Istanbul. Why? They want to look like their Turkish idols! It is not only the inhabitants of the Middle Eastern countries who watch Turkish series. ” MuthesemYüzyil ” ( the beautiful century ) is a serie glorifying the Ottoman period and is the most watched show in Bosnia and Serbia .
« oyle bir gecer zaman ki », is another series that is a hit in Greece, Bulgaria, Romania and Albania. ” Aski memnu ” is also a huge success in Pakistan.
What is the real reason behind this craze for Turkish series?
Turkish sociologist at the University of Istanbul Ipek Mercil wrote: “By exploring themes such as equality between men and women or women’s work , tackling taboos, such as children out of wedlock, these series show that being open is indeed compatible with traditional Islamic values. These series provide a breath of fresh air to millions of Arabs unaccustomed to this kind of situation and themes aborded in the Turkish series where taboos of the moral or sexual kind don’t exist anymore. “
For Professor of Sociology at the University of Galatasaray ,Hulya Tanriover, through these series viewers discover Turkish culture. A distorted Turkey but with its share of reality , a Muslim country, Europeanized and developed. For Arab countries Turkey is somewhat a Western country.
That said, there are always critics,
In 2008 the Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia Abdul Aziz al- Sheik put a ban on the series Gumus, announcing that anyone that broadcasts the series is an enemy of God and of his prophet.
In Greece, such criticisms have also trickled down from the Orthodox Church .
Faced with much enthusiasm of the people, none of these countries have banned Turkish series. Today the Turkish copy and adapt Hollywood series. Grey ‘s Anatomy became ” doktorlar ” Desperate Housewives : ” Umutsuz ev Kadinlari” and the audience continues to grow.