A major new Syrian radio drama has been launched by BBC Media Action and its local partner, Batoota Films, with the financial support of the European Union. Hay El-Matar (Airport District) is set in a fictional suburb in Syria and follows the daily lives of its characters as they try to cope with the impact of prolonged war. Marrying the best of Syrian writing and acting talent with the BBC’s renowned expertise in drama making, the thrice-weekly series has all the ingredients of a classic soap opera, love affairs, family disputes, greed, ambition, betrayal and personal crises of every sort, but also plunges into some very specifically Syrian hot topics, such as the militarisation of society, corruption, sexual abuse, radicalisation and the impact of mass migration. The result is a highly addictive blend of the personal and the public that leaves the listener at the end of every episode gasping to learn the fate of compelling characters such as Assaf, the loud-mouthed soldier who runs the neighbourhood checkpoint in Hay El-Matar.
The director of the project for BBC Media Action, Maha Taki, explained the idea behind the drama at its launch event at Station Beirut, attended by representatives from the European Union, members of the production team and journalists. “Hay El-Matar has been designed as a platform to engage with Syrians in the region by giving them a sense of their homeland and life in Syria. We have used the drama approach in several countries and it has demonstrated its effectiveness in bringing people from different communities and backgrounds together. We aim to raise awareness and increase understanding of sensitive and controversial issues of importance to the Syrian community, while creating a discussion among different generations.”
In addition to the three episodes broadcast every week on BBC Arabic radio, a weekly discussion programme will take up key issues raised by the drama and provide a forum to connect with the audience. The broadcasts will also be available online and as podcasts.
The drama will air on BBC Arabic radio at 19:06 local time (GMT+2) on Sundays, Tuesdays and Thursdays. There will be omnibus drama of the 3 episodes on Saturdays at 12:06 and 18:06. This will be followed by the discussion programme at 13:06 and 19:06.
The BBC broadcasts in Lebanon on 93.6 FM frequency, and in Syria on 720 MW.
Downloadable Podcasts are available on iTunes Store and Android Apps.