Looks like local Pakistani producers aren’t the only ones irked by the success of Diriliş: Ertuğrul. Even Saudi Arabia is trying to combat the influence of Turkish drama Dirilis Ertugrul with its own counter-narrative series Kingdoms of Fire.
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is introducing its own alternatives for the globally acclaimed ‘Turkish Game of Thrones‘. The opening salvo against its war against Turkish cultural invasion is the big-budget period drama Kingdoms of Fire, which reportedly cost $40 million to make.
Besides splurging on the budget, KSA also brought in British director Peter Webber, known for ‘The Girl With the Pearl Earring‘ and ‘Hannibal Rising‘ to direct the series.
Saudi-owned MBC network, the Middle East’s most-watched TV channel, is airing the 14-episode period drama since last month.
More about Kingdoms of Fire
Kingdoms of Fire wants to strip the positive image of the Ottoman Empire being an era of pan-Islamic unity. It is set in the 16th-century defeat of the Mamluk Sultanate that makes up modern-day Egypt and all the way east into parts of Saudi Arabia as the Ottoman Empire grew.
The protagonist from Kingdoms of Fire is Tuman Bay II, an Arab who led the Mamluks in Egypt against the Ottoman Sultan, Selim the Grim, in 1517.
With the objective clear, can Kingdoms of Fire succeed against Diriliş: Ertuğrul? Can this series extend influence beyond the Arab world, like Ertugrul did?
Based on what Netizens have to say, this doesn’t seem too really.
Saudis making big mistake by launching new MBC series on Nov 17th agnst Ottomans named Kingdom of Fire. Their hatred grudge and propaganda will die as on Nov 20th Krulus Osman will be launched worldwide after success of Ertugrul.
Saudi youth is pissed for banning Erturgul in SA
— Imran Ahmad (@ImranInc) November 9, 2019
They are straight up flexing their budget here. Ertugrul is pretty small scale, comparatively.
Also, in Ertugrul they have off screen clashes (back story) of Seljuk and Ayubids on the eastern border. But the show primarily focuses on Byzantine and Mongols.
— Zainab Izhar (@znb91) May 19, 2020
He's talking about the Hollywood version of Ottoman, which is outright biased. Two attempts have been made so far on Dirilis Ertugrul, one by Kingdom of Fire and another one by The Ottomans. Byzantines were not innocent, they were also attacking neighboring lands.
— outlier (@uumaniac) April 9, 2020
All saud sided with british against Caliphate. They killed muslim soldiers for british and destroyed holy places in Hijaz during Ottomon rule. They sold their souls, faith and Palestine to Nonmuslims. They should make a series depicting their role in treachery against caliphate.
— Imam Azam Kakar (@imampanezai) May 19, 2020
Here comes some positivity from you. We all know how آل سعود took over and named KSA. If they are pissed off, we are happy and believe that this Drama is really good. KSA pisses off whenever something good happens for Muslims just like India gets pissed off
— Majokah ? (@iamMajokah) May 19, 2020
Ummm… are the women in the saudi show allowed to "drive" horses ???
— Sheraz Waris (@waris_sheraz) May 19, 2020
Why the hate?
Reportedly, various Gulf and Arab nations have banned Diriliş: Ertuğrul.
The debate has reignited after observing the runaway success of Ertugrul Ghazi (the Urdu dubbed version by PTV), and the airing of Kingdoms of Fire during the same period.
now Arabs have started watching Diriliş Ertugrul online. Keeping eye on this Saudi Government launched new Arab serial "Kingdom Of Fire"(مملکت ال نار). In this serial Arab Government have shown Ottoman and Turk tribes as enemy and harh. But this serial is considered as flopped:
— اویس (@QRRNI) April 22, 2020
The Turkish series already has a stronghold in South Asia due to the cultural similarities it shares. Plus, of course, the Urdu dubbed version is a hit with many.
60M Arabs have watched Diriliş Ertugrul online. Indian Government also banned Diriliş Ertugrul because Turk culture shown in serial is similar to Kashmiri culture. This is way helpfull for Freedom fighters in kashmir to increase spirit and fight against Indian aggression. 3/3
— اویس (@QRRNI) April 22, 2020
Are you planning on watching Kingdoms of Fire to see what the fuss is about? Let us know in the comments below.