Babylon & Beyond

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JORDAN: Controversial drama wins an Emmy award

November 27, 2008 |  9:18 am


An impossible romance between an Arab and an Israeli set against destruction and chaos was the main theme of a Jordanian-produced TV series that won a prestigious television award in New York this week.

"Al-Ijtiyah" (The invasion), which tells love stories at the time of the Israeli incursion into a West Bank city in 2002, became the first Arab production to win the International Emmy Award.

The series, produced at an estimated cost of $3 million and praised for its artistic and technical achievements, was named best new telenovela from among 40 nominees from 16 countries.

The TV drama, which was shot in Syria with actors from Arab countries, was a bold depiction of Israel’s incursion into the Palestinian city of Jenin, the producers of "Al-Ijtiyah" said.

Yasser Qbeilat, an official from the company that produced the series, told the local Jordan Times:

"It required courage and a sense of adventure.... We made the decision despite the risk."

Not surprisingly, the series was shunned by the vast majority of Arab satellite channels, as it portrays the story of a Palestinian freedom fighter falling in love with a young Israeli woman.

Lebanon's LBC satellite TV was the only station to broadcast "Al-Ijtiyah" in 2007 during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, a very popular season in the Arab world for TV series. Libyan satellite TV aired it later.

-- Raed Rafei in Beirut

Photo: The producers of the Jordanian TV series celebrate after winning for best telenovela for their show "Al Ijtiyah" at the 36th International Emmy Awards gala in New York on Monday. Credit: Chip East / Reuters