An Arabic TV Shows List for Language Learners
It’s no secret that when you’re learning a language, you’re also learning a culture. This means if you’re learning Arabic, you’re also learning about Arab culture, so why don’t you use the culture of Arab TV to learn to speak Arabic better?
We’ve talked before about the amazing Egyptian film industry and how watching films in Arabic can help you better learn Arabic language skills, but did you know that in addition to its flourishing film industries, people living in Arabic speaking countries have also enjoyed watching quality Arabic shows on their Arab TV box for decades.
From compelling drama series to knee-slapping comedies to the edge-of-your-seat excitement of games shows, Arabic shows have something to offer everyone – even Arabic language learners. Here’s our list to get you started, but beware – you may get addicted once you start watching:
01 Khawatir \ خواطر
Khawatir (Arabic for “thoughts”) was an annual TV show that aired during Ramadan from 2005 to 2015. The follows the well-educated Saudi Arabian activist and media figure Ahmed Al Shugairi and his team traveling around the world to explore the similarities and differences between Arabic and foreign communities.
If you’re learning Gulf Arabic, you’re in luck because Al Shugairi speaks in the Gulf Arabic dialect; however, those of you studying Modern Standard Arabic should be able to follow him with little difficulty as well (plus you’ll get the bonus of both practicing your MSA AND learning Gulf Arabic at the same time. How cool is that?).
Yes, the series did end in 2015, but don’t fret as you can binge watch the entire series on YouTube.
02 MBC’s Top Chef
Fifteen contestants from places all over the Arab world like Lebanon, Palestine, Egypt, Morocco, and Oman compete for each week for 13 arduous weeks. Like the US and other international editions of the show, the Arabian version of Top Chef follows the tried and true format of eliminating one chef each week until one contestant is crowned Top Chef.
In every episode, contestants will explain what they’re cooking, how they’re cooking it and you’ll actually watch them in action. After the dishes are prepared you’ll see three world-renowned chefs – Bobby Chinn, Mona Mosly, and Moroun Chedid – judge both the flavor and presentation and listen to their interpretation of every dish the contestants make.
Since both the chefs and the contestants come from all over the Middle East, you get a good mix of Arabic dialects and a pinch of some English thrown in once in awhile as well. And because it’s a cooking show, you’ll have plenty of great opportunities to learn the names of dishes, their ingredients, and how to prepare them.
03 Amouddou \ أمودو
Created and produced by Al Aoula, the first Moroccan TV channel, Amouddou (Berber for “voyage”) is a documentary TV series starring award winning Moroccan director, commentator, editor and cameraman Hassan Boufous who, along with his charismatic voice, takes you on an adventure inside Morocco to discover the kingdom’s wonderful world of nature and stunning scenery.
Boufous’ Modern Standard Arabic is impeccable, so this is a big win for Arabic language learners who can watch the show via Al Aoula TV or catch replays on YouTube.
04 Arabs Got Talent
Arabs Got Talent is a talent show based in Lebanon that brings together gifted young people from the Middle East and North Africa to compete for a the grand prize of a brand new car, 500,000 Saudi Arabian Riyals ($133,250 USD) and a contract with MBC—the Arabic TV channel that host the Arabic TV series.
During the first part of the series, judges Najwa Karam, Ali Jaber, Nasser Al Qasabi and Ahmed Helmy choose contestants with a variety of talents ranging from comedy to magic to singing who will move on to the semi-finals based on their performance. Once they reach the semi-finals, their fates are in the hands of the audience.
Once again, because contestants are from all over the Arab world, Arabic language learners will be exposed to a wide-variety of Arabic dialects and Modern Standard Arabic subtitles are used for English-speaking performers.
05 Iftah Ya SimSim \ افتح يا سمسم
Iftah Ya SimSim (“Open Sesame”) might seem familiar to those who grew up watching Sesame Street, but don’t let that fool you. This is in no way an Arabic copycat of the beloved American TV show; rather, with the blessings of Sesame Street’s creators, this show was built from the ground up solely for young Arab viewers. However, now even non-native Arab language learners (and especially beginners) can use it, too, due to its simple yet far-reaching nature. It’s also great if you have children who are learning Arabic as a second language.
Originally produced in Kuwait from the late 70s until the 1990 Gulf War brought it to a screeching halt, Iftah Ya SimSim was revived in 2015 with the same educational and language goals – bringing literacy and basic education to the underserved population and helping young kids all over the Arab world grow into educated and moral adults.
When it was first developed, the producers took a big chance by deciding to have the show made using only Modern Standard Arabic in order to promote cultural literacy and pan-Arab collaboration. Some educators believed that MSA might confuse kids or worried that MSA would become filled with colloquial speech, thus a cheaper, more colloquial version if itself. However, none of those ever happened and the show became a beloved part of childhood for many young Arabs who watch it these days with their own children. You can watch it here with your kids (or alone. For nostalgic reasons. It’s okay. We understand.)
06 Minute to Win It
Minute to Win It is an the Egyptian version of international game show franchise where contestants take part in a series of 60-second challenges that use objects that are commonly available around the house. If you watch this for no other reason, watch it for the language and we don’t mean the Egyptian dialect. What we mean, rather, is watch it for the repetitive Arabic commentary while the contestants are playing the nose whistle with a drinking straw or stacking cards for the world’s largest playing card pyramid (yes, the show is THAT weird, but in a good way, mostly).
Commentaries like “He’s going to drop it. He’s going to drop it!” or “Ten seconds left. Five seconds left. Four. Three. Two. One.” is repeated throughout the show, but not only does that make it easier for you to follow as an Arabic language learner, but you’ll also learn new basic Arabic words that every native speaker uses every single day like stack up, balance, fall, arrange, and find – words in Arabic you won’t find in textbooks.
If you want to learn Arabic so you can be a contestant on Arabs Got Talent or you think you have a great talent for Minute to Win It, or maybe you just want to watch more Arabic TV series, visit our website and download the Kaleela Arabic learning app. Studies have shown that Arabic learning apps are the best way to learn Arabic. Best of all, the Kaleela Arabic learning app let’s you learn Arabic language skills on your own, at your own pace, whenever and wherever you want. Visit our website and find out how you can download our Arabic learning app to your IOS or Android mobile device and start learning Arabic today. It’s free from kaleela.com.
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