Popular Syrian TV series 'Bab El Hara' to have 6th part

Part 6 to be broadcast in Ramadan 2013 with key changes

Syrian TV series Bab El Hara, one of the most popular TV drama works in the Arab history, will return to the screen next year following a deluge of public calls on its director to shoot a sixth part despite the current conflict in Syria.

Part 6 is expected to capitalize on the widespread popularity of the previous five parts but its director says it will include major changes affecting the plot and characters. The most popular character, Abu Issam, who was presumed dead in part 3 but turned out to be in jail, might return to part 6 after his absence from parts 4 and 5, the director Bassam Al Mulla says.

“I am planning to shoot part 6 of Bab El Hara so it will be telecast in Ramadan next year...it will include major changes involving its story and characters,” said Mulla, one of the best known Arab TV directors.

“The main idea will not change but details of the work and the period during which it takes place will be somewhat different.”

Mulla said new actors would join part 6 while there would be “strong alternatives” to key characters who have quit or died, including Hassan Dakkak (known in Bab El Hara as Abu Bashir the baker), who died in Damascus last year.

“As for Abu Issam, he might return to part 6 because he did not actually die in the series...I cannot answer this question now and let us leave it to time for the sake of excitement...” he said, quoted by Arabic language newspapers in the region.

Abu Issam, personified by Syrian star Abbas al Nouri, was the main character in Bab El Hara’s first two parts before he was presumably killed by the French forces, who had occupied Syria and other Arab states in early 1900s.

Nouri’s sudden exit is believed to have followed a rift with Al Mulla. But there have been reports that the two later managed to patch up their rift, giving rise to rumors about Abu Issam’s comeback.

Before the broadcast of part 5 two years ago, Mulla and the actors in the series had refused to give any indication that Abu Issam would be back in that part, which also missed another major character—Abu Shehab (Samer Al Masri), who acted as the chief of the neighbourhood and was one of the most influential characters in the drama before he was announced killed in the series.

Bab El Hara (the neighbourhood’s gate) has been broadcast during Ramadan over the past years and has been rated as one of the most popular Arab series.

The series chronicles the daily happenings and family dramas in an old neighborhood in the Syrian capital Damascus<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Damascus> in the inter-war<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Inter-war> period under French<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/France> rule when the population yearned for independence.

The first installment of the series, comprising 31 episodes, was aired during Ramadan in 2006 and it enjoyed broad viewership throughout the region, including Syria and nearby countries, the Gulf, Iraq and the Maghreb region.

The second part was highly anticipated, receiving even wider acclaim in Ramadan of 2007. A third installment was aired in Ramadan of 2008 and it focused on the struggle against the French occupation and the post-marriage lives of the children of Abu Issam, the local doctor and barber. The fourth and fifth series focused on the struggle against the French. Part five was directed by Bassam’s brother Mumen Al Mulla.

Like many of the most recent popular Arabic series, Bab al-Hara is a Syrian production, financed by the Gulf satellite channels<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Satellite_television>.

It reflects a new trend representing the shift of Arabic media dominance away from the Egyptians<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Egypt> to the Syrians. As funding has become available from Gulf TV stations, the Syrians have seen an exponential rise to dominance in the field Arab audiovisual and cinematic production over the past few years.

In 2010, Syrian companies produced roughly 28 drama series, the most popular type of programme with Syrian and Arab viewers. Bab El Hara has the highest viewing rates among all Arab TV drama series. Production is expected to plunge because of the ongoing armed campaign by the opposition to oust Syrian President Bashar Al Assad.

More than 35,000 people are believed to have been killed in the conflict, which erupted in early 2011.

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