dOver the past few years Ramadan series have had a significant uplift in terms of their production value and topics, attracting viewership of many young people who had long shunned them. Sadly though, this year is disappointing.
Perhaps our expectations have gotten higher, but the general feeling we’re getting from the first week is that Ramadan television is not super exciting this year. There is a general tendency to typecast, thrills are sorely lacking, the jokes are redundant and the political and social commentary is tedious — but there are a couple of exceptions.
Below are impressions from Mada Masr’s staff of the first few episodes in each series we followed, to help guide readers into the rabbit hole that is Ramadan television binge-watching.
La Tutfe’ al-Shams (The Sun Will Never Set)
CBC, CBC Drama, MBC Drama; available online on Telly
The coming together of contemporary scripwriter Tamer Habib and popular author Ihsan Abdel Quddous (1919-1990) is perhaps a natural progression of world affairs. Both sing the same tune and hail from the same place, one where romance is life’s central predicament. Habib must have found all his favorite themes in the fabric of Quddous’s prose, interwoven tales of love, the kind of plot he started toying with in the movie Sahar al-Layaly (Late Nights, 2003) and has since milked dry.
For the third year in a row, Habib has collaborated with director Mohamed Shaker Khodeir to present a TV series with cinematic ambitions. After Tareeqi (My Story) and Grand Hotel comes The Sun Will Never Set, adapted from Quddous’s novel of the same name. Six members of a 1950s family live in their own clandestine world after the father dies. Multiple characters are explored — the timid introvert, the playful pragmatist, the antisocial — and their complicated relationships transcend age and social class.
What’s interesting is that this is not the first time Quddous’s famous novel has been adapted to another medium — it has already been both a film and a television soap. In 1961 director Salah Abou Seif made it into a film, which was produced by Omar al-Sherif and Ahmed Ramzy, and starred Faten Hamama, Shoukri Sarhan, Emad Hamdy and Nadia Lotfy. The film was true to the text in terms of both sequence of events and character development. Director Noor al-Demerdash then turned the novel into a series for television starring Karam Mutawe’ and Salah al-Saadany, which is currently airing on state-owned channel Maspero Zaman.
Do we recommend it for the rest of Ramadan? Watching this series is like playing a mind game, pushing us to compare it to the novel, the film or the first series, but Habib seems confident in his contemporary interpretation, which has kept the broad headlines but altered many details pertaining to the events and characters. The first episode contained a lot of spoilers, which begs the obvious question: how will the rest of the events unfold? If you have read the novel or watched the film and would like to have a shot at the comparison game go ahead, but we fear you might get bored, particularly since a flood of “Do you really love me, Mahmoud?” and “I only started living when I met you” scenes is already flowing.
DMC and DMC Drama, available on YouTube
This series is a psychological thriller and a philosophical attempt to understand our capacity to maintain our values in the face of abnormal life events. It begins with Tawfiq/Sameh (Basel el-Khayat) visiting psychiatrist Tarek (Asser Yassin) in his clinic to tell him that he plans to do an experiment on him. The plan is that Tawfiq/Sameh, who mysteriously knows everything there is to know about Tarek and has access to recordings of his intimate life, will every day introduce a new pressure on Tarek, ultimately trying to understand how will these repeated attacks affect his behavior. The motive? Tawfiq/Sameh hints at it when he asks whether a person whose well-intentioned action has harmful consequences should be held responsible for them, implying Tareq’s role in a possible dramatic experience in Tawfiq/Sameh’s life, introducing vengeance into the plot.
Do we recommend it? Maybe. Despite a problematic and shallow script as well as the overdramatized use of music, Khayat manages to bring a one-dimensional villain to life. If you’re a fan of his acting and charisma, and willing to go through an otherwise unworthy show just to enjoy his performance, then yes, we do recommend 30 Youm for the rest of Ramadan.
A great cast and a well-edited trailer gave the impression that we will be watching a complex and intriguing series that confronts us with our changing and complex social dynamics. The series has thus far been underwhelming as director Tamer Mohsen’s previous works go, where the first episodes have failed to introduce the characters and plot well, and seemed fragmented, but it centers around the interconnected lives of business executive Akram (Iyad Nassar) and his driver Samir (Ahmed Dawood), with themes of intimacy and alienation that are yet to be fully uncovered.
Do we recommend it? Yes. Despite the disappointing beginning, we think there’s still a chance of a late kick-off with great acting by the exceptional Hanan Motawea, Mohamed Farrag, Ahmed Dawood and Iyad Nassar, as well as interesting and relevant themes that are worth our time.
Wahet al-Ghoroub (Sunset Oasis)
DMC, DMC Drama, Dubai, available on Youtube
Director Kamla Abu Zekry and scriptwriter Mariam Naoum, frequent and often successful collaborators of late, have managed to adapt Bahaa Taher’s 2007 novel, which won the International Prize for Arabic Fiction in 2008, in a way that very few viewers are actually comparing it to the original work. The series starts at a relaxed pace as Mahmoud (Khaled ElNabawi), an Egyptian officer who supported Ahmed Orabi’s failed 1882 revolt which led to the British invasion, is being deported to then-dangerous Siwa oasis as punishment. Many viewers have related his story to the Egyptian 2011 revolution, to the extent that the verse he quotes from revolt-era journalist Abdallah Al-Nadim, “God damn anybody who hates freedom,” has been repeatedly quoted on social media.
Mahmoud meets Irish Egyptologist Katherine (Menna Shalabi) on the deck of the boat, and they fall in love and get married shortly after. The fact that Catherine speaks in a classic Arabic dialect is controversial: some have found it convincing and realistic, and others find it challenging to understand properly. Naoum’s dialogue is poetic and clever, and Abu Zekry’s choice of shots has been fascinating the audience.
Do we recommend it? Yes, highly recommended — but only if you’re one of three types: an intellectual passionate about comparing novels with their adaptations, a revolutionary who loves to compare 25 January revolution to other, historical Egyptian revolutions, or a fan of Kamla Abu Zekry and Mariam Naoum’s collaborations.
Al-Zebaq (From the Files of Egypt’s General Intelligence)
ON Drama, Nile Drama, available on YouTube
Watching this series is as painful as having a tooth pulled. If you love action, there is none. If you love the intelligence services, there isn’t any trace of them. If you love Egypt, you might stop, and if you are in need of a laugh, you definitely won’t find it here. The events supposedly take place in 1998, and the series’ execution, dialogue and jokes all come off just as obsolete as the year it’s set in. In the first three episodes, we are sluggishly introduced to the characters and their families, with all the possible clichés: the true Egyptian family; the coffee shop in a poor neighborhood alley where a Muslim plays backgammon with his Christian neighbor; Karim Abdel Aziz’s tired Adel Imam-like remarks, which he directs at beautiful women; and, of course, the overweight female secretary who is an object of ridicule because of her looks, her love of food and her undisguised sultriness. In each episode, one scene is shot in Greece, as a way of reminding viewers that there will be spies at some point before the end of Ramadan. In such scenes, we hear things like: “I know that you are Israelis working with the Mossad, and that you want me to work with you. I am on board, but let’s agree first.” That was in the first episode. A Lebanese actor is cast as the Mossad agent, as is always the case. Sherif Mounir, the Egyptian intelligence officer, plays the role of a newlywed with baby fever (he is 58 years old).
Do we recommend it? No, we don’t. There’s a slight chance things will get better once the character played by Nahla Salama appears. Maybe then there’d be a reason to watch.
Afareet Adly Allam (Adly Allam’s Ghosts)
MBC and MBC Masr, Shahid for online streaming
A certain recipe is prevalent in most of veteran comedy giant Adel Imam’s recent television and cinematic works (in continuous collaboration with screenwriter Youssef al-Maaty): misogyny, fraudulent political critique and a tired, worn-out brand of comedy. Adly Allam’s Ghosts, about a book aficionado working at the National Library and Archive who stumbles upon a genie, is no different. In terms of visual stimulation, we’ve enjoyed the camerawork in the scenes at the library, but the fake popular neighborhood so typical of TV series set is definitely off-putting.
Do we recommend it? Not really. It’s humor is done for and has little to add to any kind of conversation.
Al-Hesab Yagmaa (The Bill Adds Up)
DMC, DMC drama and Dubai, available on YouTube.
This rather standard drama puts Yousra in a less than believable role as a middle-class mother putting her two daughters through college with her successful home-made food business. But when a wealthy widowed neighbor pressures her to marry him, and her long lost nephew returns from a 15-year absence, the small world she reigns over is thrown out of whack. This year Yousra is collaborating with director Hani Khalifa (Sahar El Layali, Sokar Mor) again, after last Ramadan’s Fok Mostawa al-Shobohat (Above Suspicion). Despite Yousra’s charm she doesn’t quote pull off this role, although the other characters are very well cast. The costumes and scenography are excellent, although the endless banter of the dialogue can be exhausting.
Do we recommend it? No. Commendable cinematography and acting notwithstanding, the storyline is too transparent and we doubt it will get very interesting later in the month.
Khalsana Beshyaka (End It Well)
DMC, DMC Drama, available on YouTube
In box-office-friendly comedian Ahmed Mekky’s comeback after last year’s absence, before which he had five hit seasons of Al-Kebeer Awi (The Big Boss), End It Well was highly anticipated, especially as it combines him with Sheeko and Hisham Maged, who have in their own right taken up a sizable comedic slice of Egyptian cinema and television. The underwhelming story is set in a dystopic 2041, when a battle of the sexes that took over the world diminishes mankind to only two small armies left in Egypt (which funnily enough was only saved because it didn’t apply daylight savings and the annual illegal rice-straw burning formed a protective layer from weapons). The only plus of this series is its high production value and some spot-on humor (so far mostly only in the first episode, during a montage explaining how the war started). But its pervasive sexist slurs and its gender stereotypical roles — which can be summarized as: men are disgusting and women are superficial — make its humor and its supposed commentary on gender dynamics hard to swallow.
Do we recommend it? If it were less offensive to women, men and our intelligence, we would have been on board. But as it stands, not really.
Fi al-Lala Land (In Lala Land)
CBC, CBC Drama, available on YouTube
This looked promising because last year’s comedy series Nelly and Sherihan, which starred a lot of the same cast, was a Ramadan highlight. In Lala Land is a Lost-meets-Hollywood nostalgia endeavor that borrows notes in its title tunes from Damien Chazelle’s La La Land. Donia Samir Ghanem stars as a Etab, a woman from an underprivileged neighborhood who’s a flight attendant on a plane that crashes into a deserted island at the end of the first episode. She develops amnesia and keeps having spurts of “memories” which turn out to be scenes from cartoons and Hollywood films, which have a quite underwhelming comedic value. Other characters on the flight include one played by comedy giant (and Donia’s father) Samir Ghanem — a recipe which theoretically could have worked — but unfortunately the level of humor (which include several cheap shots at Shaimaa Seif’s character for her weight and various stereotypes on the southern Egyptian characters for supposed stupidity) is sub-par.
Do we recommend it? If you’re in the mood for some basic humor and nothing too dramatic to follow in Ramadan, it’s not a bad choice. But not one of either of the Ghanems’ best appearances.
Rayah al-Madam (Please the Missus)
Al-Nahar, Al-Nahar+2, Al-Nahar Drama, available on YouTube
This comedy starring Ahmed Fahmy, one-third of a dynamic trio known for their fresh comedic collaborations, is saved from its dull jokes and repetitive themes by well-placed guest appearances. Co-starring radio host turned comedian Akram Hosny, Please the Missus goes back to the old-school style Ramadan series in which every episode the stars adopted new characters, prompted by a condition that Dalia (Mai Omar), the wife of playboy advertising director Sultan (Ahmed Fahmy), suffers from after catching her husband cheating,: she basically wakes up with a different personality every day. Some of the running themes in the first three episodes are a bit overused, such as mixing two ill-fitting elements: A farmer pitching ideas in a corporate manner, an overweight typical mother cast in an advertising.
But cameos like body-builder Shahat Mabruk as a boxing coach who speaks in Mohamed Fouad lyrics and actor Abbas Aboul Hassan as his famous villain role Al-Gazzar from the movie Mafia — terrorizing his associates into celebrating his birthday with him — save the day.
Do we recommend it? We’d pass on this show if comedy scene wasn’t so catastrophic this Ramadan, but as it stands we would say if you’re looking for a light comedy go for it. At least you won’t come across anything too offensive and will be amused by the creative guest roles.
Zel al-Raees (The President’s Shadow)
Al-Nahar, Al-Nahar Drama, available on YouTube
Starring Yasser Galal, this drama-crime-action show is supposed to chronicle the backstage dealings of the presidency and high-ranking politicians in the lead-up to January 25, 2011. But a few episodes and several car-chases in, it’s unclear what the direct link between Galal’s construction tycoon and the seat of political power actually is. Exploring the toxic mix between money and politics is nothing new for Egyptian shows, and this one will have to deliver more than its fast plot line and extravagant locations in order to keep us watching. It also doesn’t help that every character is built like a two-dimensional stereotype rather than a real person.
Do we recommend it? Absolutely not. The acting is less than mediocre, the dialogue is unnatural, and the makers’ fondness for dramatic music and slow-motion sequences is very off-putting.
Gharabib Soud (Black Crows)
MBC MASR, Available on Shahid
The only reason to watch this series is if you’re not getting enough of ISIS in the news, which is probably not the case. A highly anticipated mega production, it is a straightforward, preachy depiction of life under the control of the terrorist group holding the world’s attention. The details of the plot accurately mirror the horror stories retold by those who have lived in ISIS territories: an army of children, women kidnapped and made into sex slaves, and hypocritical leaders ultimately only using their followers for their own interests. The tone is that of an educational program, with intermittent verses from the Quran and Prophet Mohamed’s sayings to demonstrate that Islam opposes ISIS practices, and a theme song that sounds like an Islamic choir listing the group’s vices and declaring: “We will abolish them.”
Do we recommend it? Black Crows could have gotten away with creating a dramatic depiction of what remains the number-one subject of media coverage worldwide with a strong plot and an innovative focus. But the overview it offers only works for those who want to torture themselves with even more ISIS horror.
Ard Gaw (Ground, Air)
ON E, ON Drama, available on YouTube
In this family-drama thriller, veteran star Ghada Abdel Raziq is Salma, a flight attendant who finds herself in moral dilemma when her brother hijacks her airplane at gunpoint. A few episodes in, it’s still unclear whether Salma is only an innocent bystander or an accomplice. Meanwhile her family begins to self-destruct as the siblings divide over Salma and Yassin’s actions. We’re left rooting for her nonetheless as she struggles to make the right choice: to fight with her brother, or against him?
Do we recommend it? Yes, let’s give it another week. So much turmoil and action have happened in the first few episodes, it’s hard to imagine that the show could continue to get more dramatic than this — but it certainly will. But only for those who take a guilty pleasure in Ghada Abdel Raziq’s robust performances and cheap thrills will likely find entertainment in this “who-dun-it” style show.
Al-Herbaya (The Chameleon)
Al-Nahar, Al-Nahar Drama, available on YouTube
The Chameleon is a story of intersecting tumultuous lives and love, centered around Lebanese pop star Haifa Wehbe’s character Asalya. Fought over by a drug-abusing thug and a shiny upper-class boy, Asalya is desperate to get out of her sister’s immoral house of wheelers and dealers. Working as a “khadama” (a servant, which is how they refer to it in the show) for a rich family, Asalya plans her ticket out by marrying Hassan, her wealthy love, but two episodes in he’s mysteriously killed…
Do we recommend it? ABORT. ABORT. ABORT. Haifa Wehbe’s translations to the silver screen are generally painful, and what’s more this show is unbearable to watch on YouTube with nearly 20 commercial interruptions per episode.
Ramadan Kareem (Blessed Ramadan)
DMC, DMC Drama, Abo Dhabi Drama, available on YouTube
Every year during the Muslim holy month there are some shows that like to play Ramadan Inception-style: a show about Ramadan, wait for it, in Ramadan. This year, in Ramadan Kareem, Ruby performs a double role. As the show starts we are introduced her character, Sanaa, a young woman living her family in a crowded alleyway. By day she is a sales girl working at a cosmetics store, where she cunningly collects multiple potential suitors. Played by Sayed Ragab, her father, not so ironically named Ramadan, is also a lead character in the show and the alley in which they live. Micro-dramas happen and Ramadan puts out the fires as Sanaa attempts to play her way into a wealthy family by pretending to be rich.
Do we recommend it? No. It’s achingly dull and slow. While there are some funny jokes at the expensive of Ramadan rituals, this show is only advisable if you have a strong sentiment toward the holy month and enjoy watching people struggle to get through it. It’s likely Ruby will push the show along more rapidly in later episodes as she is a solid actor, as seen in Sign al-Nessa (Women’s Prison, 2015), but so far Ramadan Kareem is a drag.
Le Aala Sear (To the Highest Bidder)
DMC, DMC Drama, Dubai TV, available on YouTube
A long liberal elegy about the disintegration of finer forms of art due to society’s looming decay, Le A’la Se’r is the latest production by the Adl clan, written by Medhat al-Adl, directed by Mohamed Gamal al-Adl and produced by Al-Adl Group (obviously). Nelly Karim plays a shrill and superficial role, acting out of the complicated, dramatic typecast she stuck to over the past few years. Here, she plays a good-hearted, naive woman who advocates for notions of art amid a backward society that rewards her with a sense of jealous vengeance. The art form celebrated is ballet and classical music is also introduced through the character of the father, a reclusive man who abandoned both family and career in pursuit of his art.
A surprising turn of events takes place in the fourth episode, when Karim turns from a ballet dancer to a fully-veiled housewife, with a daughter she calls Aesha. This allows scriptwriter Medhat al-Adl to plug away at his moralistic tirade against Islamists and “decadent” art (shaabi music), producing purposeful shows that lose sight of their function as art or entertainment.
Do we recommend it? Because of a weak script and two dimensional characters we do not recommend watching this series, unless you are seduced by Medhat al-Adl’s edifying preaching. With true art we shall rise, and so on.
Halawet al-Donia (The Sweetness of the World)
CBC Drama, MBC Drama, Dubai, available online on Telly
Hend Sabry (The Aquarium, The Island) comes back this Ramadan in a dramatic series about bourgeoisie family life and society in Cairo. Amina, a successful young woman, is diagnosed with leukemia just a few months before her wedding to Omar (Hany Adel) and right after being promoted. Amina whose father died years before now lives with her grandmother, mother and sister. The series sets a perfect example of a wealthy yet traditional society with the main character neatly drawn as the patriarchal idea of an ideal woman.
Do we recommend it? If you’re looking for a romantic drama then this might do it.
CBC, CBC Drama, Al ‘Asema, Al Qahera Wal Nas; available on YouTube
High doses of masculinity, coarseness and action. Lots of guns. “At your service, sir!” and “We are here to serve the country.” These are some of the elements that are at the heart of rising director Peter Mimi’s most recent series. Amir Karara plays a special forces officer tasked with fighting terrorists who is transferred to the investigations department after he witnesses a colleague’s death. As events unfold, he enters into conflict with top officials who abuse their positions to cover up suspicious actions.
Do we recommend it? This show is important insofar as it is a perfect example of how Egyptian drama depicts the typical life of an uncorrupted police officer, someone who protects society from evil while his personal life is ripped into shreds because of his sacrifices. We don’t recommend watching it unless it’s for research purposes.
Qasr al-’Oshaq (A Lovers’ Palace)
Al Hayat, Dream TV, Al Qahera Wal Nas, Sada al-Balad; available on YouTube
For those who are fans of the antique — and because of a decline in the number of comedy series this year — we recommend watching this show by Ahmed Saqr, a director from a bygone era, and scriptwriter Mohamed al-Hennawy, who has cooked up his favorite concoction of ghosts and psychiatric institutions, the same recipe he followed in last year’s Heya Wa Da Vinci (Da Vinci and Her). Star-studded, the series brings together Farouk al-Fishawy as an ex-politician and member of the opposition who has been sent to the suspicious institution as an example for his peers; Kamal Abo Rayyah as a delusional aristocratic artist; Poussy as a former actress living in the imagined heyday of her career; and Ezzat al-Alayly as a police officer. Also incorporating actors Soheir Ramzy and Rania Farid Shawki, the cast transcends time to take us back to the 1990s.
Do we recommend it? If you’re bored of watching the same kind of dramas and want to raise your spirits (and that of others), A Lovers’ Palace should be your number-one choice for an evening with friends, especially if you were born in the 1980s.
On Drama; available on Youtube
With the absence of heartthrob Mohamed Ramadan, Kafr Delhab, starring Youssef al-Sherif, has emerged as the most-watched series this season. Sherif has been among the top-viewed actors over the past three years, coming second after Ramadan despite many not paying attention to his endeavors or giving them due weight. He has created a unique blend amid a thirst for Egyptian series that can compete with foreign productions in terms of storyline and visual aesthetics, which has helped him build a wide fan base. This year he reunited with director Ahmed Nader Galal and turned to Amr Samir Atef for the script. At the center of this dystopian story, where neither time nor place are identifiable, is a modern doctor who doesn’t believe in magic. He is forced to rethink his beliefs about the things he cannot explain after a curse is cast on him, creating a density of spine-chilling scenes — a tantalizing offering for teens that weaves tropes from classic US horror films with our own beliefs about demons.
Do we recommend it? If a curiosity to watch Mohamed Riyadh, Safaa al-Toukhy, Hady al-Gayyar and Sami Maghawry (you can imagine) in a thriller/horror series has befallen you, then don’t hesitate. It’s the kind of horror where doors creak open when no one is around, so we’ll leave it up to your curiosity.
Al-Hossan al-Aswad (The Black Stallion)
MBC Masr; available on Shahid
Faris Roushdy (action-hero-type Ahmed al-Saqqa) is an ex-lawyer and self-centered private investigator who only offers his services to those who pay him sizable amounts of money. Following a painful relationship with his client and ex-girlfriend Hassnaa (Yasmine Sabry), he quit law and grew disinterested in everyone except his best friend Mahy (Sherine Adel), a rising acting star. The series starts with the disappearance of Hassnaa’s rich husband, who is older than her, which pushes his nephew Medhat to call a friend, Amr Gaber (Mohamed Farag), to launch an investigation.
Do we recommend it? No. The Black Stallion offers an ample dose of melodrama, featuring kidnappings, murders, instances of memory loss, accusations of betrayal, unexpected pregnancies and death threats. If you aren’t a die-hard Saqqa fan, this series may not be worth the effort required to follow the intense events, dramatic clichés, Major Farag’s repugnant acting and the hot pink blood that is spilled whenever somebody dies or gets injured.
Al Nahar, Al Nahar Drama, available on YouTube
Hany Salama is presented to us as Leil Abdel Salam, a hired killer, in this new action series. The action is introduced early on when we see him taking on jobs from several clients. But it is not very convincing. Leil is drawn as the most badass killer who takes any kind of job and gets it done in no time. We see him in the chicest suits and shades, driving around in his luxurious sports car. He lives with his wife Injy, with whom he has a shaky relationship, and his young daughter Farida in a very luxurious house. The we find out he has epilepsy, and he decides to come clean after he experiences a seizure on a job.
Do we recommend it? If you’re a fan of Hany Salama and action fan, this could be your choice this year. But if not, you’ll probably want to skip it.
On Drama: Available online
Scriptwriter Waheed Hamed continues to present his typical state-oriented vision of the Muslim Brotherhood, following the success of this series’ first part, broadcast in 2010. The second part, directed by Sherif al-Bendary, starts with the death of the group’s founder, Hassan al-Banna, in 1949 and the aftermath, which led to severe persecution of his followers inside and outside prisons. It also sheds the light on the group’s relationship with army officer Gamal Abdel Nasser, who is also depicted as a member of the organization.
The conspiracy-driven storyline poses the basic criticism of the Brotherhood that we’ve seen since 2013: that it’s a devilish organization. The stark difference between the devilish Brotherhood characters compared to the kind, patriotic Nasser is very funny. The shallow struggle between pure good and pure evil forbids any sort of complex characterization. This is evident in the character of Muslim Women’s Association founder Zeinab al-Ghazaly (played by Sabrine), with her gloomy, pale face, thick eyebrows, and over-reactions. Mohamed Fahim, who plays the role of Brotherhood thinker Sayid Qotb, has almost the same physical characteristics, in stark contrast to the handsome, confident and chain-smoking Abdel Nasser (Yassir al-Masry). Nasser, despite being a Brotherhood member, is always criticizing the group for favoring personal interests over nationalistic ones. He is also the army officer who wants a “civil state.” The peak of comedy comes when Nasser reveals his intentions to a fellow Brotherhood member: “I want to stage a coup and change the ruling system entirely.”
Do we recommend it? Yes, for comedic purposes only. Personally, I have no hope in seeing a drama on the Muslim Brotherhood that disregards the childish duality of good and evil propagated by both opponents and supporters. I would also continue watching due to my curiosity in seeing how the drama will deal with the 1954 period.
Heba Afify, Maha ElNabawi, Osman El Sharnoubi, Lara El Gibaly, Hossam Bahgat, Nael ElToukhy, Leila Arman, Rowan El Shimi, Mai Shams El-Din and Amna Hussein contributed to this article.