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Netflix’s First Arabic Film Sparks Outcry and Misinformation

Faten Elwan Faten Elwan
31st January 2022
Netflix’s First Arabic Film Sparks Outcry and Misinformation
Ashab wala Aaz is a remake of Italian comedy-drama Perfetti Sconosciutti (Getty)

Note: The views and opinions expressed in blog/editorial posts are those of the author. They do not reflect the views or opinions of Misbar.

The first Arabic film produced by Netflix, ‘Ashab Wala A’az’ was released on January 20 and quickly became one of the most-streamed films in Egypt, sparking outrage and misinformation in Egypt for alleged immorality and undermining of traditional values.

Adel Karam, Diamand Bou Abboud, Mona Zaki, and other well-known actors from Lebanon, Egypt, and Jordan appear in the film.

The story revolves around a group of friends in Lebanon who decide to spice up their night by playing a game straight out of the 21st century. Every text message, email, and phone call they receive will be shared with the rest of the group.

The game reveals shocking truths about the group's members as events unfold, touching on topics ranging from adultery and premarital sex to homosexuality, all of which are widely considered taboo in the MENA region.

The film was surrounded by fake viral social media posts, one of which linked the film to the CEDAW Convention. The posts claimed that the film only serves the CEDAW Convention by normalizing events in the movies and indirectly imposing them on Arab families.

Contrary to popular belief, the UN WOMEN website clearly states that “CEDAW” stands for “Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women,” an international agreement signed by 189 countries in 1979.

Misbar's team also debunked rumors that Netflix lost 130 billion dollars in a matter of days after streaming the Arabic remake of Perfect Strangers, which sparked outrage among social media users.

Social media users also shared a misleading video of Muna Zaki having a breakdown and crying while officially announcing her divorce from her husband Ahmed Helmy, following a disagreement over the film.

Many people on social media chastised Egyptian actress Zaki for her role in the film, which they described as "morally corrupt."

A large social media smear campaign was launched against Egyptian actress Mona Zaki for a scene in which she removes her underwear.

However, the Egyptian Actors Syndicate issued a statement supporting Zaki's right to free expression four days after the film's release.

Despite the backlash and attempts to ban the film in Egypt, the film is still available on Netflix in Egypt and in 190 other countries.


Additional Reporting by Hind Khoudary

Misbar Sources: