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Arab world remains biggest market for Turkish TV series

A group photo of the cast of popular Turkish TV series, “Magnificent Century.” (Via Social media)
ANKARA: The latest figures announced by Turkish Culture and Tourism Minister Numan Kurtulmus about his country’s movie and TV industry confirm its continued global reach, especially among Arab audiences.

He told Parliament’s Planning and Budget Committee that Turkey ranks second in TV series exports after the US, and first in Europe. The Arab world remains the biggest market.

Turkish dramas command audiences of more than 250 million people. About 85 million people in the Arab world watched the final episode of the series “Silver.”

Izzet Pinto, who runs Global Agency, which sells the rights of Turkish series abroad, said they are popular among Arabs because of cultural similarities.

“Turkish soap operas reached popularity peak with ‘Magnificent Century’ (about the Ottoman Empire), which created its own market in which Arab fans bought Ottoman costumes and organized Ottoman-themed family parties,” Pinto told Arab News.

Global Agency recently sold to the Arab world the rights to “Broken Pieces,” and Pinto said this will be followed by “Mother,” “Istanbul Bride” and “Full Moon.”

Senem B. Cevik, a lecturer at the University of California and an expert in public diplomacy and political communication, told Arab News: “Given the number of series exported across the globe and their audience reach, they’re the most visible and significant cultural tools for promoting Turkey.”

She added: “So far, the industry has achieved global success without any support from state resources. The success of drama series is therefore a missed opportunity for Turkey to really take advantage of. They’re successful on their own, but aren’t successfully integrated yet as part and parcel of Turkey’s promotion.”

Turkish series have increased income generated from tourism, as fans are interested in seeing firsthand where their favorite series are filmed.

“The main points that appealed to me were the production, costumes, makeup, acting and directing,” Nevine Helal, an Egyptian fan of the series “Magnificent Century,” told Arab News. “It made me feel like I wanted to live in this era.”

She visited Turkey to see where her favorite series were shot. “Using series for tourism is the greatest idea ever,” she said.

Cevik said the Ministry of Culture and Tourism should utilize the power of the industry as a bridge between cultures by taking Turkish celebrities around the world and offering tours to Turkey to visit film sets.

“In doing so, it’s important for state institutions to maintain a certain distance from production companies and not interfere with content,” she added.

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