Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Homer’s odyssey

Deep in the heart of Dubai’s Media City — a glittering, still-under-construction paean to all things, um, media — standing alongside the Reuters building, one finds a tower graced with the letters MBC. For most viewers in the Arab world, these three letters are synonymous with television. MBC 1 is the most-watched satellite station across the Gulf and the Levant, followed closely by MBC 2 and MBC Action. MBC 1 programs a heady mixture of proprietary Arabic drama (like the controversial new soapie Aswar), a plethora of Arabic talk shows and subtitled American standbys like Friends (easily the most popular show in the Arab world). But in early 2005, the powers that be within the glass tower began developing a television product that they believed would be a surefire ratings smash. MBC decided to Arabize The Simpsons, morphing it into Al Shamshoon. Thus: Meet Omar Shamshoon, his wife, Mona, and their son, Badr. And welcome to Springfield.

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