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Turkey's booming TV industry shaping cultural views in Middle East

10th February 2015

Turkey is the second highest exporter of TV series abroad globally after the United States.

Turkish series have been exported to over 100 countries, contributing to a boom in the country’s domestic television industry.

In 2012, Turkish soap opera exports were worth around $200 million, a significant rise from just $10,000 in 2004.

The huge popularity and influence of Turkish television series has dramatically increased over the last decade, especially watched in the Middle Eastern and southern European countries.

Successful Turkish television series such as “The Magnificent Century,” (Muhtesem Yuzyil), a costume drama, which is, based on the life of Sultan Süleyman the Magnificent in the 16th century Ottoman era. 

The show was a massive hit in both Turkey and internationally. It had been sold to 47 countries and watched by over 200 million people.

It is one of the shows that earned Turkey $130m in foreign sales last year.

Turkish Soaps are influencing the Middle East

The popular Turkish soap - Silver (Gumus/Noor) based on the deep love between a poor girl and a richer husband, received widespread acclaim. It has been sold to 56 countries.

The TV drama has presented a new image of relations between man and woman.

From Saudi Arabia to Morocco the series has drawn millions of people to their TV sets.

Arab Women would observe how well the lead character treated his wife – 

Mazen Hayek, spokesman for the Saudi-backed Middle East Broadcasting Centre (MBC) says, the soap portrays married life whereby "women are valued, appreciated and adored,"The character ‘Mehmet’ is a man that treats his wife as an equal, he encourages her in her professional career, and is loving and understanding. The impact of the show was such that Arab women would comment on this to their husbands.

The rise in the Arab world's interest in Turkish popular culture is largely because the characters in Turkish TV series have plenty in common with Arab audiences, so it is very easy for them to relate to.

The Ministry of culture and tourism in Turkey has noted a direct link between the popular dramas with a dramatic rise in the number of tourists to Turkey from Arab countries in the last five years.

“Everyone wants to visit the houses where the TV series were filmed and eat in restaurants that appeared on the series.”

Izzet Pinto, CEO of Turkey's Global Agency - which distributes Magnificent Century and other successful series says: "We are showing our country to millions of viewers. We are showing the beautiful scenery, our lifestyle and traditions. "So we have a great influence on people through soft power."




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