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Posted On: 13 September 2009 10:19 am
Updated On: 12 November 2020 02:10 pm

Qatari soap opera still stirring up controversy

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The controversial Qatari soap opera Hearts for Rent, which has been seen by some as an “insult and unrealistic” for depicting a Qatari family living in a tent under the pressure of the rental crisis, continued to stoke a public debate during its third week of screening. Audiences are divided over the series, which is being screened by Qatar TV and other Arab channels since the beginning of Ramadan. Those who defended the series saw it as a “satire” on how some well-to-do Qatari families faced hardships due to their reckless spending. Detractors saw it as a “weak drama” which painted a gloomy picture of Qatari family life. However, others said many of the issues raised by the series were already aired on the popular radio programme Watani Al Habib. “We should not feel ashamed of having our problems screened on TV. Instead we should face them and try to find solutions. Each society has its own problems and it is our duty to make our voice heard through such works,” said Israa, a viewer of the series. Mohamed al-Saadi, a Qatari, said the playwright meant to convey her message about the rental crisis in a comic vein. “How can people talk about exaggerations in the series even though the local newspapers have carried reports about similar miseries?” he asked, adding that he was a keen viewer of the series because it dealt with the problems in a light-hearted way. The third week of the 30-episode soap opera saw more families seeking refuge in tents, including an expatriate household. The Rashids of the serial earn high salaries and own a shop, but are overburdened with bank loans. Mona, one of Rashid’s four daughters who has been studying medicine in the US, returns to find her family living in a tent in the desert. She blames her father, saying he wasted the money he received in compensation for their house which was demolished by the government. The Abu Nawaf family is the second Qatari household to join the Rashids and set up a tent. Mariam, Abu Nawaf’s daughter, joins her parents at the tent after suing her husband who married their housemaid and ill-treated her. Among other issues that the series touched on last week were sons’ ingratitude to their parents and the rising rate of divorce.