The Saudi TV network MBC will start airing the big budget drama “Kingdoms of Fire” on November 17 which aims to “expose the tyranny of the Ottomans and their bloody history.”
Publicity for the show says it will highlight “Ottoman aggression against Arabs,” such as “their tyranny, entrenchment, criminality and theft of Arab history.”
It will document the last phase of the Mamluk state and its downfall at the hands of the Ottomans in the early 16th century, featuring the Mamluk Sultan Tuman Bay in Cairo and the Ottoman sultan Selim I.
The drama is directed by Briton Peter Weber, who already has several popular films such as Girl with a Pearl Earring, Hannibal Rising and Emperor on his CV.
Yasir Harib, producer of the drama, said: “We are proud to announce the serial Mamlakaat Al-Nar, which we hope to start a new phase in the Arab drama, and proud to begin its broadcast on MBC.”
This is not the first television war between Saudi Arabia and Turkey, whose soap operas have soared in popularity throughout the Arab world. MBC last year announced it was pulling the plug on all Turkish soap operas amid soaring tensions between Ankara and Riyadh.
The move followed a regional crisis in which Saudi Arabia and its allies imposed a blockade on Turkey’s regional ally Qatar. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan dispatched emergency food supplies and troops to the country while committing to expanding Turkey’s military presence there.
Saudi also accuses Ankara of supporting the Muslim Brotherhood which Riyadh considers a terrorist organisation.
The Ottoman era in the history of Arabia lasted from 1517 to 1918. During that time the degree of Ottoman control varied with the fluctuating strength or weakness of the Empire’s central authority.
In the 16th century, the Ottomans added the Red Sea and Persian Gulf coast (the Hejaz, Asir and Al-Hasa) to the Empire and claimed sovereignty over the interior. The main reason was to thwart Portuguese attempts to attack the Red Sea (hence the Hejaz) and the Indian Ocean.
In the early 20th century the Saudis managed to force the Ottomans out with the help of the British.