Secrets of Arabia

RBB/ARTE, 2017, 5×45 min. and NDR 2×45 min.

The countries on the Arabian Peninsula are known for three things: their wealth, Islam and their seemingly endless sandy deserts. We want to take a closer look, and have set out on a journey to discover the many different facets of this exciting region.

The Arabian Peninsula is just a few hours from Europe by plane – but despite its geographic proximity, this corner of the world is one of the more exotic destinations, not often visited by travellers. To this day, no documentary series has given a detailed account of life in this region shrouded in legend. When the black gold started gushing forth from the desert sands, most of the seven countries (Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Oman, Kuwait, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates and the Kingdom of Bahrein) were catapulted into the modern age virtually overnight. Within a single generation, the petrodollars transformed these nations into extremely wealthy welfare states. What has changed – and what remains as it used to be?

Aside from enjoying the amenities associated with wealth, the inhabitants of the Arabian Peninsula are very keen to uphold their traditions: countless folk festivals, cultivating old crafts and looking after ancient sites, all these give some indication of the strong sense of history that the Arab people share. They tell us about their everyday lives and the challenges that living in Arab nations in the 21st century brings with it.

We visit cultural sites dating back thousands of years and modern luxury hotels. We learn more about those cultures that shaped Arab life before the arrival of Islam in the 7th century, and we plunge into breath-taking countryside with its huge sandy deserts, lofty mountain ranges, and miles of coastline along the Red Sea and the Persian Gulf.

The countries that make up the Arabian Peninsula are as varied as the countryside, and as their inhabitants. And so we embark on a fascinating journey of discovery between old traditions and modern superlatives.

Directors: Nadja Frenz, Steven Galling, Sabine Howe
Camera: Connie Goos, Torben Müller, Stefan Paul
Editorial: Dagmar Mielke (RBB/ARTE)
Commissioning editor: Sören Schumann
Executive producer: Sandra Maischberger