Transformative pan-Arab TV: National and cultural expression on reality TV programmes | Intellect Skip to content
Volume 8, Issue 2
  • ISSN: 1751-9411
  • E-ISSN: 1751-942X



This article analyses season two of the Arab reality TV programme titled Arab Idol, a TV series broadcast on the Saudi satellite channel MBC between 8 March and 22 June 2013. Through analysing this case study of Arab Idol, this article explores the rapid success of this genre on pan-Arab TV and attempts to decipher its audience’s interaction both online and on TV. It also seeks to unpack issues relating to the way identity, culture and nationalism are represented and debated. These programmes have been critically analysed following Fowler’s (1991) and Fairclough’s (2003) seminal texts. Results of this study reveal that the development of such a genre of TV programming in the region has opened up a new era not only for unusual entertainment but also for audience participation and engagement. As much as it can be perceived as a space for virtual democratic practice and free debates on nationalism and identity, this programme can also be considered as a unifying sphere that consolidates not only the feeling of national belonging but also the pan-Arab collective sense of the Ummah (global community).


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