8 Excellent Iraqi Arabic TV Shows Every Student Should Watch
Iraqi TV and cinema currently lag behind other Arab countries like Syria and Egypt in terms of media production, owing mostly to the country's lengthy years of war and insecurity which have stunted creative growth. Things are changing though, much like how Iraqi music has gained great popularity in recent years, Iraqi TV and cinema is slowly beginning to take shape.
Today I’ve compiled a list of excellent Iraqi TV shows for you to watch and learn Arabic from.
It doesn’t matter if you’re looking to learn the overly passionate, sometimes heavy, but always beautiful Iraqi dialect or whether you’re just after some Iraqi entertainment.
Comedy, politics or romance, there is something here for every taste.
1. The Red Zone (المنطقة الحمراء)
Summary: Written by Mustafa Kadhim', The Red Zone (المنطقة الحمراء) is an Iraqi drama that follows the journey of an archaeologist, Yousef, who returns to Baghdad after years abroad. He immediately finds himself facing problems after killing his neighbor, Rahma's husband, in self-defense. While Yousef and Rahma are burying the body, they receive a threat from someone who has footage of the murder. If you’re looking for a fast-paced Iraqi drama to binge- watch, this is a good option.
2. Hawa Baghdad (هوى بغداد)
Summary: You can’t make a list of Arabic shows without including a cheesy love story, can you? In Hawa Baghdad (هوى بغداد), Shams, a beautiful young woman, abandons her past and family in order to pursue a young man she has fallen for. The theme of the show revolves around a true romantic narrative about two lovers who struggle to be together. In each episode, Shams and Amir are gathered in Baghdad's lively atmosphere for a one-of-a-kind tale.
3. Melon City Show ( ولاية بطيخ )
Summary: If you like dark humor and political satire, you’ll love Wilayat Batikh (ولاية بطيخ). It is an Iraqi sketch comedy TV series created by Iraqi TV host and comedian Ali Fadel. Each episode of the show is largely made up of pre-recorded skits that cover a wide range of socio-economic themes, with a special emphasis on Iraqi popular culture and politics. Here is a fun fact: the title of this TV sketch, Melon City, is a literal translation of an Iraqi Arabic proverb that means "a city without regard for the law," and is used to depict a scenario in which there is no organization and control, due to the absence of a functional government in society.
4. The Greatest Liar (اكبر جذاب)
Summary: The Greatest Liar (اكبر جذاب) is an Iraqi comedy series directed by Ali Abu Khumra. The series follows Hoobi, the protagonist, who relates stories about his travels which he constructs from the fabric of his imagination. The series won the Best Comedy Work Award at the Cairo Arab Media Festival in 2012 and the Best Comedy Work in Iraq in the same year. If you’re after some good Iraqi humor, this one is a must-watch. This one might not be for beginners though, the speech is quite fast-paced, so be warned.
5. Um Badila (ام بديلة)
Summary: The show Um Badila (ام بديلة) revolves around the wealthy Al-Warqi family, who seek to preserve its name and wealth. Ibn Al-Warqi marries his cousin Zeina, only to discover she is unable to bear a child. After much thought and discussion, Amal, the mother, comes up with a solution in the form of a surrogate mother. She starts searching for a girl who will be suitable for the job, and eventually settles on Neveen, whose life is flipped upside down. If you enjoy edge of your seat, suspenseful dramas, this show isn’t one you’ll want to miss.
6. Albasheer Show (البشير شو)
Summary: Iraqi politics is mostly a joke, so why not make fun of it? If you want a sarcastic and scathing critique that exposes government leaders and high-ranked dignitaries in Iraq, you need to watch this one. Ahmed Albasheer produced and hosts The Albasheer Show (البشير شو), an Iraqi satire news program.
The show recorded an audience of 19 million in 2015, which was more than half of Iraq's total population. It’s also considered to be among the most influential programs in the country, with the show and its host being linked with playing a significant role in the 2019-2021 Iraqi protests. The satire is inspired by recent stories, political leaders, and media organizations, and it frequently criticizes Iraq's persisting troubles with corruption, sectarianism, extremism, and terrorism.
Most episodes begin with a speech from Albasheer, followed by a skit that mocks bizarre or exaggerated positions taken by prominent politicians and celebrities. The final segment is frequently dedicated to an interview with famous personalities, such as actors, musicians, writers, and political figures.
7. Zaraq Waraq (زرق ورق)
Summary: Iraqis are known for their good humor and good music. In this show, you get both! Zarq Waraq (زرق ورق) is an Iraqi comedy variety show that stars Ayad Radi, Alaa Hussein, Solaf Jalil, Ihsan Daadoush, and Ali Jaber.
The show follows these actors who face a number of comical social issues and challenges in their daily lives. It is regarded as one of Al Sharqiya Comedy Channel's most successful programs. The show includes multiple loveable characters and scenes, which have been warmly welcomed by reviewers and audiences alike Iraqi humor and musical scores make a great pairing.
8. Virus (فايروس)
Summary: Virus (فايروس) is an Iraqi series produced and directed by Jamal Abed Jassem. It revolves around a romantic social environment, where students at a university are faced with the hidden dangers of technology. Many Iraqis were scandalized by this show when it aired because it presented an uncomfortable reality about the evolution of university life in an unsettling way, challenging their preconceived beliefs about what university life is like in Iraq's outwardly conservative society.
TV shows are a great tool to help you learn Iraqi Arabic
That’s the end of my list of the best Iraqi Arabic shows.
I hope you enjoy the shows we’ve recommended to help you improve your Iraqi Arabic studies and cultural knowledge.
As Iraq continues to rebuild and evolve after three decades of bloodshed and instability, the Iraqi film industry is slowly blooming and developing. Young filmmakers who had to escape their home countries due to conflict or persecution have returned to make films and guide the next generation of producers and filmmakers, forging a fresh path to reintroduce Iraqi cinema and media.