While ties between Turks and Arabs stretch back centuries, the massive popularity of Turkish TV series in the Arab world is bringing the two peoples together in fresh new ways.
The credit partially goes to a small group of dedicated translators who toil day and night to render Turkish into vivid Arabic, which is then used in dubbing.
Ali Mahmoud Al Suleiman, a young Syrian-Turk living in Lebanon, is a member of this elite group.
The 24-year-old began translating Turkish productions into the Arabic tongue three years ago.
“I translated many Turkish dramas, with the most famous ones being Resurrection: Ertugrul, and Payitaht Abdulhamid,” Suleiman told Anadolu Agency, referring to popular Ottoman historical dramas.
Turkish series have achieved remarkable success over the past decade in scores of far-flung countries in the Middle East, Latin America, and South Asia.
The most popular of these is Ertugrul, which is aired in more than 100 countries and has entranced more than a billion viewers.
Amateur goes pro
Suleiman, who was born in Istanbul to a Turkish mother and Syrian father, first translated his favorite shows into Arabic without charge, as he wanted his Arab friends and family to enjoy them as much as he did.
But now he does the job professionally. He works for the Turkish Embassy in Lebanon as a translator, is affiliated with an online entertainment portal, and also writes columns.
“I translate Turkish series into Arabic, especially the historical ones, because there are things that bring Arabs and Turks together such as religion and culture,” he said.
“I see Turkey as my second country and love it. I encourage people to visit this beautiful country.”
He added: “Turkey has always chosen the side of truth and justice by standing with the oppressed, especially the Palestinian cause and the Syrian revolution in 2011.”
Suleiman lived in both Damascus, Syria and Tripoli, Lebanon for school before returning to Istanbul, a city he hails as “the meeting point of cultures and civilizations,” to study Turkish literature.
“I encourage human bonds between Arabs and Turks, have many Turkish friends whom I love, and they love me,” he said.
Suleiman fears bans on Turkish dramas in a few Arab countries such as the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia due to ongoing political tensions, but says that would not necessarily keep Arab fans from watching Turkish productions.
Even where there is official censorship, “there are portals where Turkish dramas can be accessed,” he explained.
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