New series ‘Baghdad Central’ a tense thriller told with Arabs in mind

The show was shot in Morocco. (Supplied)
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Updated 12 February 2020

New series ‘Baghdad Central’ a tense thriller told with Arabs in mind

  • Set in 2003, when Baghdad was occupied by US-led coalition forces for six months, the thriller follows Iraqi ex-policeman Muhsin Al-Khafaji who finds himself embarking on a wider quest for justice in a society that has become lawless

DUBAI: “We are rarely in Western cinema and media as the protagonists,” said actor Waleed Zuaiter, who plays the lead character in “Baghdad Central,” the new thriller that aired on streaming service Starzplay on Feb. 12.  

Set in 2003, when Baghdad was occupied by US-led coalition forces for six months, the thriller follows Iraqi ex-policeman Muhsin Al-Khafaji who finds himself embarking on a wider quest for justice in a society that has become lawless.

Al-Khafaji, who was fired after the US invasion, worked under former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein’s regime. The show, which was shot in Morocco, revolves around Al-Khafaji and his two daughters after he loses his wife and son.

Zuaiter, who was born in the US and raised in Kuwait, told Arab News that when he first read the script, he was in “deep depression… I wasn’t in the right place. My father had passed away and so I had a very negative filter on everything.




The movie is set in 2003, when Baghdad was occupied by US-led coalition forces for six months. (Supplied)

“I had also been skeptical about any writing coming from the West about the Middle East, because my experience had been that it’s rare that they get it right and a lot of times it is very stereotypical and so my first thought was ‘oh it's another stereotype’ or ‘another accented Middle Eastern character’,” he added. 

It was his wife, however, who pushed him to reconsider the role. “The second time I read it I was like ‘wow I really connect with this character’ and then I took another read and I was like ‘wow this is everything I’ve ever wanted to play and I was very proud of it,” Zuaiter said. 




Waleed Zuaiter plays the role of Muhsin Al-Khafaji, an Iraqi ex-policeman. (Supplied)

British-Egyptian actress July Namir plays one of Khafaji’s daughters in the show. Her character, Murooj, is “wise beyond her years… she is extremely intellectual for her age.”

Despite her kidney disease, Murooj does not want to be an extra burden on her father who “has lost everything,” Namir said. 

The young actress also believes “Baghdad Central,” which was originally a novel by the author Elliott Colla, addresses the stereotype of the father-daughter relationship in the Arab world. 




British-Egyptian actress July Namir plays one of Khafaji’s daughters in the show. (Supplied)

“In the West, we have this perception of the Middle East and daughter-father relationships that the father is extremely aggressive and tells you off all the time... and here, actually, you have a much more softer, if anything, relationship. So, it is really interesting to showcase that these relationships do (exist),” Namir said.

When speaking to the executive producer of the show Kate Harwood, she said she was looking for new ways to tell a story.

“As a producer… this immediately felt like a really interesting perspective because we’ve been fed so many stories of Iraq 2003 and the protagonists were always American or British. So, to read this novel, which had a totally different perspective, was very refreshing.”


Hijab-wearing makeup artist Salma Rahman stars in new Adidas campaign 

Updated 30 October 2020

Hijab-wearing makeup artist Salma Rahman stars in new Adidas campaign 

DUBAI: British-Bangladeshi makeup artist Salma Rahman has starred in a new campaign for sportswear giant Adidas.

The hijab-wearing social media star worked with Adidas Football for their “Human Race” jerseys, designed by R&B singer Pharrell Williams for five major football clubs including Bayern Munchen, Real Madrid, Manchester United, Juventus and Arsenal. Williams, music producer and singer of the hit “Happy,” has been working with Adidas since 2014.  

The brand recreated five past iconic jerseys for each club using tie-dye and hand-painting techniques to make the shirts less formal. 

Sporting Arsenal’s jersey, Rahman shared pictures of the campaign with her 22,500 Instagram followers. 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

who remembers the great gatsby book cover? yea this is her now — edit: @niqabaechronicles

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“Being a part of @adidasfootball x @pharrell human race reminds me of what I love most about being creative,” she wrote. “To me, creativity has the capacity to ground and uplift oneself and the community. Football jerseys are not just for football players and football is a game for everyone. When I work with makeup, I’m able to express myself, as a human being. To me, this jersey is a reminder that colour unifies and will always spark inspiration.”

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

4 my ugly ducklings

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Famous for her bold use of colors, Rahman topped off her look with daring makeup that incorporated the tie-dye colors of the jersey: blue, orange, yellow and mint green.  

This is not the first time Rahman has partnered with an international brand to represent the hijab-wearing community. She has previously worked with makeup brand Glossier and sportswear giants Nike and Champion.