Netflix party
Source: Gamespot

Gone are the days when social outings used to be an escape for extroverts. Gone are the days when empty homes used to be an awaited blessing for introverts. Gone are the days. 

Gone are the days when going to the cinema with a friend (or two, or three) was a mid-week outing. Gone are the days when Netflix & Chill was a thing. Gone are the days. 

Gone are the days when inviting friends over for pizza and a movie was deemed lame by many. Gone are the days when seeing your friends was taken for granted. Gone are the days. 

The novel coronavirus is changing life as we know it, but many companies have been pretty quick to adapt to those changes. 

Enter Netflix. The streaming giant wants to minimize the negative sentiments associated with quarantine time and so it launched Netflix Party to keep people in high spirits. Prior to the pandemic, people living under different roofs who wanted to watch a movie together at the same time had to pre-determine at exactly what second they'd press the "Play" button so that the experience is in sync. 

Now, a free Google Chrome extension called Netflix Party does that hard work for you. 

How does it work?

In a nutshell, this is how Netflix Party works: 

  1. Install the Chrome Extension
  2. The person running the "party" selects a movie/show on Netflix and then clicks on the "NP" button 
  3. That person then gets a specific URL to copy and send to friends 
  4. Start the movie and chat with your friends throughout 

To be able to join a Netflix Party, you need to have access to a Netflix account. Wondering what you could watch during this time?

Well, if you haven't been supporting your fellow Arab actors, directors, or producers, it's time to do that now while you're practicing social distancing. 

Here's a list of things you should add to your list and watch with your friends ... online:  

1. Jinn

Jinn, Netflix, Jordan

Jinn became Netflix's first Arabic original series to be released last June. The Jordanian Arabic-language supernatural drama web television series follows a group of teenagers who go on a school field trip to Jordan's iconic archaeological site Petra. 

During that trip, a student named Yassin (played by Sultan Alkhail) got literally bullied into a hole in the ground, cussed at and peed on by bullies, and then to really hammer that nail into his coffin, got bitten by a scorpion. Later on, the mystical creatures known as jinn start following the group. 

Jinn features Middle Eastern talent and is executively produced by Elan and Rajeev Dassani (SEAM). It's directed by Lebanese filmmaker Mir-Jean Bou Chaaya, who's well known for his 2015 hit feature Very Big Shot.

2. Dollar

Arabic original series on Netflix have - since the launch of Jinn - grown in quantity. The Lebanese series Dollar joined the roster of Arabic originals in August 2019. 

The 15-episode series features Adel Karam and Amel Bouchoucha. It tells the story of Tarek (played by Karam), a man who is given the chance to come up with a million-dollar idea for the launch of a new bank in Lebanon. 

To avoid any spoilers, Tarek eventually shares his idea with the bank's CEO in confidentiality but is soon trailed by Zeina (Bouchoucha), the bank's CFO, as she doubts the integrity of the plan. And the rest is for you to find out while watching the show.

3. Al Hayba

El Hayba, Netflix, Al Hayba

Ever since Al Hayba was first released in 2017, it's become synonymous with Ramadan. The Lebanese-Syrian drama series features Taim Hasan and Nadine Nassib Njeim.

The series first aired on MBC to the Arab world in May 2017; season 2 was released on the same channel during Ramadan in 2018. 

Netflix has since picked up the first season and is giving viewers the chance to stream it — whether it's Ramadan or not. 

Subtitles in English, Chinese, Hebrew, French, and Spanish are available.

4. Black Crows

Black Crows, Netflix
Source: Flixable

In 2017, Black Crows changed the course of Ramadan series forever. Normally, the entire family gathers around the television to tune in to the same show; with Black Crows, that wasn't possible as a sign in the opening credits warns that the show is "not suitable for children." 

Inspired by true events, the show tells stories of life under Daesh. It describes the lives of male and female recruits, undercover spies, child snipers, slaves, and leaders in a cell of an extremist group. 

The series first aired on MBC to the Arab world during Ramadan 2017 and has since made it to Netflix. 

5. The Secret of the Nile

The Secret of the Nile, Netflix

Grand Hotel, or as it's known on Netflix Secret of the Nile, is the first Egyptian show to stream on the platform. Featuring Amr Youssef and Dina El-Sherbiny, the show is set in Aswan, a town situated in Upper Egypt. 

It tells the story of a man named Ali who goes to the hotel in search of his sister, a former employee at the hotel who went missing. Upon arrival, he gets hired, falls in love, and the rest is up to you to find out. 

The show includes subtitles in English, Spanish, French, and Chinese and is actually a remake of a Spanish drama series, Gran Hotel

6. Six Windows in the Desert

Six Windows In The Desert, Saudi Arabia, Netflix

Earlier in 2020, Netflix officially bought the rights to six socially enlightening Saudi films and began streaming them in the form of a limited series titled Six Windows in the Desert.

The six short films span a range of topics including nature, social taboos, extremism, and the human psyche — all depicting the nuances of Saudi Arabian culture.

The films include: 

  • 27th of Shaban (2019): The plot revolves around the events faced by two people, Mohammed and Nouf, meeting for a date.
  • The Rat (2018): This feature revolves around a man, Fahad, and the fear he experiences during his final day on earth. 
  • Curtain (2018): A female nurse escaping traumatic events faces fear and judgment at her workplace.
  • Wasati (2016): This film is based on a true story from 2005 and recounts the events on the night of a play called Wasati Bela Wastiah (meaning "A Moderate Without Moderation") which was attacked by a group of extremists. 
  • Predicament in Sight (2016): A science fiction short dating back to the 1970s, this movie tells the story of the survivors of a plane crash who learn to coexist in an isolated desert after communication with the rest of the world fails.
  • Is Sumyati Going to Hell? (2016): When a family hires a housemaid named Sumyati, the family's youngest child, Layan, looks on as they treat the housemaid with racism.