Everyone's talking about Noor this summer. The Turkish series has caused such a storm in the Middle East, it's even been blamed for breaking up marriages and causing suicides.
The popularity of the show - which has been dubbed into Syrian Arabic for the Middle East - might have something to do with the incredible anecdotes that surround it. Tales of women blaming their husbands for not being as romantic as those in the show; someone selling a herd of goats just to be able to watch the programme in peace; people refusing to go to weddings if it's on; Saudi Arabia even launching a fatwa against the show's broadcasters - the stories were as exaggerated as the soap itself. So why so much success? Maybe because of the blend of east and west, featuring both "free love" and Islam at the same time.
The web reacts to Noor with cartoons
The series poses family problems...
The sign above the door reads "cosmetic surgeon". The man's carrying a picture of Mohannad.
A couple dream of Noor and Mohannad, respectively.
"You wouldn’t find these people in real life"
Saud Kassouha, 25, is a bank worker from Homs, Syria.The show tells the story of a very rich, aristocratic family. The characters are all super-perfect. Noor and Mohannad, the lead characters, are almost gods. You wouldn't find these people in real life. They seem to be able to do absolutely anything. To get Noor, Mohannad does ridiculous things that nobody could do [he constantly changes his disguise, pays musicians to serenade Noor etc.].
What I hate most is the influence this series has on society. People have divorced because of Noor! Women expect their husbands to be as romantic and marvellous as Mohannad and the husbands get jealous. It's mad!"
"I can’t miss an episode!"
Fatima al Zahra al Alaoui, 24, is an accountant's assistant in Fes, Morocco.I love the show. It tells you so much about a society that you hardly know anything about. Somehow it manages to tell a love story without being offensive. It's set in a western style society, but you still find Arab and Muslim values. For example, the granddad is a very important figure in the family. Not just as a head of the family, but as someone very close to his children, who respect him a lot.
Here in Morocco everyone's hooked. A newspaper reported that someone committed suicide because their parents refused to let them watch Noor for two weeks. People are also really interested in private lives of the star couple, Mohannad and Noor.
Seriously, I cannot miss an episode!"
A typical storyline...