It took more than one-and-a-half years to film a television series that tackles the struggles facing Arab youth today and the result is a new level in the Middle East's drama series in terms of form and content.
"The University" is a series that explores the most sensitive and controversial issues facing youth in the Arab world, including drug addiction, religious diversity, the role of women in society and acceptance of others.
The series takes place in a made-up university called Middle East University -- located in Cairo -- and the main characters are all students based on field work conducted by the show's young writers.
The writer's interviewed youth from several Arab countries and the results showed that their dreams and concerns are more or less the same, said series producer Amr Qoura.
“We have been doing research in seven Arab countries,” he told Al Arabiya. “We wanted to closely study the issues that preoccupy the youth and at the same time gauge the type of content that would attract them when tackled on TV”
The daily interaction between Arab students at the university, Qoura added, leads to several surprises throughout the 15 episodes of the series.
The series features six main characters, three Egyptian, two Saudi and one Lebanese, and there are 10 supporting characters in addition to another seven who play the roles of professors at the university.
Qoura said he purposely chose unknown actors "since the problems of youth are not given enough attention although they are the future of the Arab world.”
Parent's should watch
Although "The University" is about youth, it is suitable for all age groups and is, in fact, recommended for parents, said series director Hani Khalifa.
“I hope mothers and fathers can watch the series as it gives them an insight into the different situations their children go through at such a critical stage of their lives,” he told Al Arabiya.
When asked about the obstacles actors and actresses could have gone through due to the difference in accents, Khalifa replied that he did not face such a problem.
“The new generation of Arabs have overcome the accent barrier, especially with the numerous satellite channels that made the youths of each country familiar with accents of other Arab countries.”
The series will air during the second quarter of 2010 and names of satellite channels that bought the rights to the series will be announced shortly.
(Translated from Arabic by Sonia Farid)