Over the years, talent shows such as Star Academy, The Voice, and X Got Talent have been brought to the Arab world. With proper licensing, these entertainment shows were adapted to cater to an Arabic speaking audience. But, when it comes to foreign films and TV shows, that's far from being the case.
While it's OK to draw inspiration from a well-crafted idea and performance, stealing another's work is something else. When it comes to foreign dramas, Arab writers/directors seem to have no idea what constitutes plagiarism. Not to sound too harsh, but remember the Weld El-Ghalaba vs. Breaking Bad controversy?
Here are some of the most flagrantly copycatted Arabic series that were "inspired" by foreign works:
1. Zay El Shams VS. Sorelle
Similarities: Both shows follow the suspicious murder of one sister, while the other one juggles with her personal life, a complicated love triangle, and the secrets of her sister's past.
2. El Ab El Rohy VS. The Godfather
Based on the highly acclaimed American trilogy - The Godfather - the Egyptian version El Ab El Rohy didn't even attempt to get creative with the name. It failed to appeal to the audience and was heavily criticized following its release.
Similarities: Both works are a mob drama revolving around a powerful family living in a world of crime and violence. The patriarch of the crime transfers all control of the dynasty to his successor — who is struggling to make a decision.
3. Ruby VS. Rubi
Based on the Mexican telenovela with the same name (Rubi), the Arabic version (Ruby) shares an identical plotline, storyline, and even similar posters to its Mexican counterpart.
The Lebanese-Egyptian version starred Cyrine Abdelnour, Amir Karara, and Maxim Khalil.
Similarities: Both works tell the story of an ambitious girl from a poor background who won't stop until she manages to change her current condition. That includes betraying her closest friends, manipulating people and using her seductive skills on a rich doctor.
4. Grand Hotel VS. Gran Hotel
Similarities: The main character on both shows attempts to solve the mystery of his sister's disappearance. In doing so, he visits the hotel under false pretenses.
5. Heba Regl El Ghorab VS. Ugly Betty
Amy Samir Ghanem plays the title role in the Egyptian adaptation of Yo Soy Betty La Fea. The telenovela was adapted over 20 times. The most famous adaptation is the American version Ugly Betty, but that doesn't mean the Egyptian version went unnoticed.
Ghanem was later replaced by Nahid El Seba'ay playing the title role.
Similarities: Both shows follow the journey of a woman with a unique sense of style in a world of fashion police who tries to deal with her feelings for her boss.
6. Tariqi VS. La Ronca de Oro
7. Esm Mo'akat VS. Unknown
Youssef El Sherif's work usually receives praise for their shocking plot twists and unexpected endings. But, that wasn't the case with Esm Mo'akat (Temporary Name) as many deemed it to be a copy of Liam Neeson's action film Unknown.
Similarities: Both shows tell the story of a man who tries to retrace his steps to figure out his true identity after waking up with amnesia. The character in both shows ultimately learns that his identity has been stolen, but struggles to get people to believe his claims.
8. Halawet El Donia VS. Chasing Life
Similarities: Both series follow the protagonist's journey after learning she has a terminal illness. With the support of family and friends, the character manages to deal with the struggles she's faced with.