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Netflix: Three Arabic shows to watch in 2022

This month's picks feature a cat-and-mouse chase for a dollar note and a Syrian series that explores the trauma of losing family members to extremism
Spruce up your to-watch list this new year with one of Netflix's many Arabic-language shows (Netflix)

The holiday season may be winding to an end but that's no reason to stop bingeing on TV shows.

That's especially true if your new year's resolution included learning Arabic or improving on the language skills you already have.

With a steady stream of Arabic-language releases on its platform, we picked three shows available on Netflix to keep you busy during January.

Suggestions are based on the British version of Netflix and some shows might not be available in other regions. 

Dollar

Dollar is a light-hearted romp that sees a marriage of opposites pairing between the irreverent Tarek (played by Lebanese comedian Adel Karam) and the uptight Zeina (Amel Bouchoucha).

The two work for a soon-to-be launched bank and as part of a marketing campaign, Tarek comes up with a scheme to award $1m to a customer who finds a specific dollar note distinguished by its serial number.

Can Tarek and Zeina track down the elusive dollar bill and claim the million-dollar cash reward? (Netflix)
Tarek and Zeina try to track down an elusive dollar bill that could net them a life-changing sum of money (Netflix)

Zeina, a secretary to the bank's CEO, is suspicious and initially tries to figure out what Tarek is up to before stumbling on his plan to find and keep the winning dollar note for himself.

Instead of exposing the scheme, the two join forces to track down the note, which is seemingly intent on evading them and draws them into a series of comic misadventures, which nonetheless bring the characters together romantically.

The comedy offering is directed by Samer Barqawi, known for a number of award-winning shows including al-Hayba, which featured in our November picks.

The Platform

Premiering on Netflix in 2020, this Syrian-fronted Emirati production quickly became popular for its slick editing style and subversive take on a subject that is rarely out of public debate in the region: terrorism.

Syrian actor Maxim Khalil is the protagonist Karam, who as a child is tasked with keeping his family together after his father is arrested and imprisoned on terrorism charges.

Follow Karam as he works to take down an extremist group by any means necessary (Netflix)
Karam wants to avenge his lost childhood by exposing terrorist groups (Netflix)

The adult Karam is left with trust issues and consequently embarks on a project to expose organisations he considers extremist on a web portal he calls "the platform" from his home in Los Angeles.

A tragedy brings Karam out from the relative safety of the US to Syria where he is forced to confront his family's history head-on.

The plotline aside, the series comes amid the context of the war in Syria and the UAE's own campaign against groups it considers extremist. Seen through that lens, The Platform has an ideological utility for Abu Dhabi.

The country's campaign against terrorism has been criticised for cracking down on groups, such as the Muslim Brotherhood, which see themselves as political opposition groups that have been labeled "terrorist" by Emirati authorities.

Whispers

This female-centric, eight-part psychological thriller is perfect for those who prefer shorter shows that don't require long-term investments in attention but are nevertheless compelling to watch

Netflix’s first-ever Saudi Arabian series, Whispers has a lot to live up to but it has succeeded in breaking down a number of stereotypes associated with women living in the kingdom and the wider region.

Whose truth can we trust? Uncover family secrets in this 8-part psychological thriller (Netflix)
Whose truth can we trust? Uncover family secrets in this eight-part psychological thriller (Netflix)

The show is centred around the death of a family patriarch (Hassan) in a car accident just before the launch of his company’s new phone app. Each episode approaches the aftermath of the accident and the events leading up to it from the perspective of a different family member or friend.

Each telling reveals a new truth about Hassan's mysterious past and with it raises suspicions about what really caused his death.