Saudi Arabia: An Expat Wanted to Know…


I love it when I receive queries from American Bedu readers seeking answers to questions!

I was recently asked the following:

   What kind of tv shows are popular?  Does everyone have a Dish and get a zillion channels or does it depend on the family?

Those are fun questions to answer.  I’ll share my personal observations and experiences and welcome other readers to share their knowledge of Saudi tv viewing habits.

To begin with, both Western and Eastern shows are popular.  Of the American shows, Oprah and Dr. Phil are probably the widest watched in the Kingdom.  I also can say on good authority that these shows are not viewed by just females either!  Some Saudi men enjoy both Oprah and Dr. Phil.

Just like America or Europe, there are popular soap operas everywhere.  Now I can’t say that I followed them myself but I remember my own mother-in-law avidly watching one soap opera which was filmed in Turkey.  This soap opera actually helped boost tourism in Turkey by Saudi visitors!

During Ramadan there are a whole series of special shows that families will watch together.  Tash ma Tash heads the top of this list.  I think some folks would rather be late for an iftar than late for Tash ma Tash!

Many families in Saudi Arabia do have a dish.  I’m not sure if they have a zillion channels but I can tell you that it is more than I want to count!  Of course the dish is another way of opening up the world too.  The channels bring a range of shows covering the full spectrum.  There are other families who are conservative and choose to not have a television in their home or rather than a dish, just stay with local channels.


7 Responses

  1. That picture makes me laugh and want to know the story being told.

  2. What I found most surprising is that the American shows and movies are not censored in any way. Some notable examples of programs I was surprised to see on OSN (satellite pay TV) were Weeds, Breaking Bad and the Secret Diary of a Call Girl. So while movie theatres are banned, it is perfectly acceptable to watch shows about prostitution and drug use in the comfort of your own home.

    Great for the rest of us, but yet another example of a culture that is ok with someone enjoying ‘immoral’ things, as long as no one sees them doing it.

  3. Thanks for sharing this

  4. I must admit I enjoy the new episodes of Tas ma Tash and Fareej during Ramadan. Especially the Tash ma Tash topics the make common Saudi topics and popular complaints humorous. I don’t like the soap operas though, my wife watches some of them. I think it is just full of sorrowful drama and wailing.

  5. I’ve always loved Tash ma Tash!

  6. I have a question, since movie theaters are banned and many things online are banned meaning saudis cannnot open certain links on the internet, are porno movies banned too?? since they got so many channels can saudis watch the playboy channel and similar channels to this one?? I just wonder because this is a country of so many restrictions that i suppose they would banned certain shows on t.v.

  7. I had a shock when we had our satellite tv. No….porno is not banned apparently if you have satellite.

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