How do you unite a warring, disparate people rent apart by centuries of conflict? Why, by employing the healing power of television.
"A suave Lebanese man and a top game show are doing more to unite Arabs than 50 years of summits, slogans and pan-Arab politics," reports Johannesburg's Business Day.
The newspaper is talking about George Kurdahi, the Arab world's most popular television personality. His twice-weekly Arab version of Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? is viewed thoughout the Middle East, Africa, and Europe. Kurdahi's catch-phrase, "jawaab nihaa'i?"(Is that your final answer?), has found its way into the popular Arab lexicon.
Who knows? Maybe Yasser Arafat used it during his meeting this week with U.S. Secretary of State Colin Powell.
No contestant has yet claimed the million offered, but that hasn't stopped Who Wants To Be A Millionaire? from out-rating the daily barrage of political broadcasting available on Qatar's bin Laden-friendly Al-Jazeera channel. The show's host, a regular Arab Regis, is massively popular among viewers of all religions, despite being a minority Christian.
This is all good. The program's success demonstrates a commonality of interest, at least so far as television game shows are concerned, among all of the world's people.
And it points the way to future programming ideas. Why stop at game shows when so many other Western television ideas can be adapted for Middle Eastern audiences?
Current events. Cairo's oldest citizens roam the city, pointing at ancient buildings and talking about them until it's time to go home. Mosque-see TV!
Sitcom. Replaces long-running Middle Eastern favorite, "Enemies".
Everybody Loves Arab League Secretary-General Amr Moussa
Comedy. Poor Amr! All he wants to do is build Arab opinion into a cohesive and dynamic force, but his meddling parents and oafish brother keep dropping in to annoy him.
Reality Drama. A group of people endure an unending series of threats and challenges. Starring the entire population of Israel.
The Ul-Haq Factor
Current Events. Feisty host Bill Ul-Haq takes no prisoners in his daily political talk show. Tonight's Talking Points Memo: Where is Usama? Why Haven't We Found Him? Where Has Usama Gone? Caution: you're about to enter a No Bin Zone.
Just Shoot Me!
Reality Drama. British celebrity journalist Robert Fisk begs the inhabitants of a Pakistan refugee camp to attack him.
Whose Line Is It Anyway?
Comedy. George W. Bush, Colin Powell, Donald Rumsfeld and Condoleezza Rice struggle to maintain a consistent approach towards the Middle East.
Sesame Arab Street
For children. Join lovable Grover, Big Bird, Elmo, Bert and Ernie as they sing songs, learn the alphabet, and offer hateful tirades against America and Israel's latest political and military plans.
Semtex in the City
Drama. Three young Palestinian women discuss dating, romance, and bomb concealment techniques.
Law & Order
Educational. Each week, a different Western leader attempts to explain the concepts of "law" and "order" to Palestinian Authority chairman Yasser Arafat. Three hrs.
Tim Blair is an Australia-based journalist who first encountered the horror of environmentalism as a grade school student, when a bearded teacher told him that all the fossil fuel in the world was about to vanish and everybody would soon be driving electric cars. Born in 1965, he has been a senior editor at Time magazine, a columnist at Sydney's Daily Telegraph, and the editor of Sports Illustrated's Australian edition. He currently writes for various Australian newspapers and magazines, publishes Timblair.com and has owned dozens of cars and motorcycles — none of them electric.