LAST UPDATED: 1 month ago
I am often asked which Netflix series I would recommend in Arabic. The main reason people choose Netflix is the availability of English subtitles – without subs, even native Arabic speakers do struggle sometimes to understand subtleties. The various Arabic dialects, especially Moroccan, Iraqi and Gulf Arabic, are not always easy to understand.
But as of now, I wouldn't recommend Netflix anymore.
Anyone who can afford it should strongly consider taking out a subscription to Shahid (شاهد). The Arabic word شاهد, by the way, means witness or someone who is watching. Shahid is also a male given name.
Let's talk about money: Shahid costs 7.99 euros per month (October 2022) in Germany. I assume that Shahid uses dynamic pricing, which means that the price may vary depending on your location. The company quite often offers special discounts that make the price more attractive, for example, you get 3 months for the price of one. Subscriptions are available in most countries around the world.
Now, let's see what Shahid is all about. Here are five reasons why Shahid is the better Netflix – for anyone who enjoys or learns Arabic:
The platform: top-notch, fast
Optically, Shahid looks like a twin of Netflix. It seems to me that Shahid has embraced the look and structure of Netflix. The shows are sorted by genre or country of origin. You can see what's trending in your country.
Streaming is ultra-fast and in very high quality (1080p full HD). If you still have trouble reading Arabic, you can switch the interface to English.
The Content: 25,000 hours of Arabic stuff
Like Netflix, Shahid produces own series and films. There are dedicated channels for kids, which are great for Arabic learners. Special channels for children are in Modern Standard Arabic.
According to MBC which runs Shahid, the media library of the Arabic streaming platform offers more than 25,000 hours of original productions, series and films. If you do nothing but sleeping, eating and some personal hygiene, this material would be enough to keep you streaming for four years. So mere mortals have a supply of Arabic TV series for many, many years.
- Egyptian Series
- Maghreb Series
- Syrian Series
- Kuwaiti Series
- Iraqi Series
- Gulf Series
The Netflix series produced in Arabic have so far tended to be rather cheap productions that had a forceful Western touch. Shahid is more authentic because the platform is designed for the Arabic market and for Arabic viewers.
There's little point in listing musalsalat (مسلسلات) since, like Netflix, new stuff comes out regularly. The best thing is to get an up-to-date picture for yourself: https://shahid.mbc.net/en/home
Here is a general overview of Shahid's categories:
- Shahid Originals
- Binge Watch
- Shahid Premiere
- Anime Classics
- Comedy Series
- Crime Mysteries
- Romance Series
- Action Series
- Game Shows
- Cooking Shows
- Talk Shows
If you are not so much into Arab dramas, you could start with remakes. The series The Killing was trending in fall 2022 – a remake of the Danish series of the same name that was an international hit more than ten years ago. Later there was also a US remake that took place in Seattle.
In the current Arabic version, Police Captain Hisham begins his investigation into the murder of an influencer who was found dead in the car of an election candidate.
But there is more on Shahid:
- Shahid also offers several Turkish drama series (مسلسلات تركية) dubbed in Arabic.
The subtitles: mostly English; but also French and Arabic
Subtitles are the main reason why Shahid clearly beats Netflix. Almost all new series and films have subtitles in English, often also in French and Arabic. You really can't ask for more.
Extras: podcasts and live TV
Shahid is also perfect for those who want to watch live Arabic TV. Although the number of stations is quite limited and mainly from the MBC universe, it is quite nice if you just want to hear a little Arabic on the side.
Here is a list of the Arabic live TV channels:
- MBC 3
- MBC 5
- MBC Drama
- MBC Masr
- MBC Masr 2
- MBC Iraq
- al-Arabiya al-Hadath
- Gulli bi al-Arabi
- al-Sana al-Nabawiya
The account: Up to three simultaneous users
With Shahid, you can access your account from an unlimited number of devices,; however, you can only stream or watch TV from 3 devices at a time.
So if you are short on money, you can share the account with two friends (legally), which makes the subscription basically affordable for many people.
In case you prefer other solutions, check out these posts: