Almost two years after Netflix’s first original series set and produced in the Middle East, the American streaming service is releasing another show catering for the Arab market through the tumultuous Al Rawabi School for Girls.
We’ve said this before but it’s still worth reminding: Netflix’s catalogue has been incorporating more and more Arabic focussed content. And it’s mirroring more than just an intent to finally listen to the millions of voices and viewers of the region that are only waiting to be paid attention to. Considering what has been included so far, it is quite safe to say that it is a progressive move that shall only be lauded.
After a pretty long absence from airing any new original content, the release of this new programme only makes sense. Using and re-adapting a formula that has already proven to be quite efficient and successful in its essential purpose, Tima Shomali and Shirin Kamal, the show’s producers, have uprooted Jinn’s main framework to brush a tangent storyline that still remains specific to their own endeavour. Because AlRawabi School for Girls also takes place in one of the Arab world’s fictive prestigious schools and does not mingle with the heavy political and cultural topics we are too used to watching.
From what we have been able to gather up until now, the teenage drama appears to be very promising and willing to push the cultural and creative barriers of the Arab world ever so far. Drawing from the two-minute trailer, the plot focuses on a lambda teenage girl, Mariam, a victim of harsh and relentless bullying from most, to not say all, her classmates. Except for a few that share the same sense of revengeful spirit. Following our main protagonist through her rancorous adventure, the show is definitely not what most of us would have expected.
The female figures behind this new series have come a long way and made sure to explicitly create a show their younger selves would have enjoyed back in their days. In a region where television shows that reflect an international level of production are already quite scarce and rare, women-centred ones are even less so. In the director’s own words, “As a teenager, I felt the lack of shows that talked about young girls at that age. There wasn’t something that I could relate to that also entertained me. Today, there is still limited content directed at young people, particularly girls. That’s how the idea of creating a show that young girls around the world would relate to was born.” – a will that we can only salute and embrace with her upcoming release.