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Outstanding Arabic Shows on Netflix to Learn Arabic

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There are two things that make for a fantastic language-learning environment.

The first is people chatting naturally, as actual people do, without any kind of stilted usage meant for learners. No “How are you?” “I’m fine, thank you.” You want: “Hey, what’s up?” “Hey.” Or, you know, that in Arabic.

The second is to have something interesting to care about. If you’re not interested in what’s happening, and you don’t care which way it ends up at the end, your mind won’t be focused enough to really remember what you’re picking up language-wise.

Watching Arabic shows on Netflix—long and engaging—is seriously one of the best things you can do for yourself. And when you think of great television in 2019, you probably think of Netflix.

So what’s the deal with Arabic Netflix, anyway? Why should you take the plunge to watch Netflix shows in Arabic? Can you really learn Arabic on Netflix?

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Table of Contents

  1. Netflix Arabic Content: Why is Arabic Netflix Different?
  2. The Ten Best Arabic Netflix Offerings
  3. Hey, All of These are TV Shows!
  4. Using Dubbed Media in Arabic to Enjoy Another World of Content
  5. Be the First to Leverage Arabic Audio Descriptions for Your Learning
  6. Conclusion


1. Netflix Arabic Content: Why is Arabic Netflix Different?

Improve Pronunciation

Ever gone on a vacation overseas and fired up your Netflix, only to be told that what you were watching was no longer available because you’d crossed a border? Or discussed a great show with a friend abroad who wasn’t able to find it on their own Netflix catalog?

Netflix changes the shows available to different people based on their geographic location. This is because of different licensing deals, and this is also one of the reasons they’re producing original content—so they can get to distribute it to whatever market they want.

Unfortunately, the bottom line for you is that unless you’re living in an Arabic-speaking country or have VPN access to one, you’re unlikely to get the true and complete catalog of Arabic Netflix offerings.

But supposing you’re able to circumvent that problem, get an Arabic Netflix app, or simply gain access to the Arabic Netflix series… Here are what Arabic shows are on Netflix!


2. The Ten Best Arabic Netflix Offerings

1- The Writer (Lebanese and Syrian Arabic)

Imagine this: You’re a well-known novelist in your community, best known for writing books on crime. Then, mysterious things start happening around you that sound an awful lot like your stories. Is somebody being inspired by you in the worst of ways? Or are your books coming true for some unknowable reason?

Starting right off, the Arabic Netflix series The Writer will expose you to plenty of words and phrases related to crime, police, and investigations. It moves pretty fast, so don’t worry about rewinding or skipping around in order to follow what’s going on.

Ready to watch one of the best Arabic Netflix shows? Head to the Arabic Netflix sign in and prepare to binge!

2- al Hayba (Lebanese and Syrian Arabic)

If you’re not familiar with Middle Eastern geography, you may not realize at first that al-Hayba is the name of an area right on the border of Syria and Lebanon. But that’s where this story takes place, as a young, intensely motivated arms dealer comes to grips with the death of his brother while handling the conflicts in his community.

In a border region, people tend to be bilingual from necessity or just sheer force of habit. Native speakers of Arabic won’t have too much trouble following the dialogue that’s in both Syrian and Lebanese Arabic, but as a learner, you’ll have to work hard to understand the nuances of what’s going on.

If you’re serious about your Arabic-learning, Netflix Arabic programs like this are essential!

3- The Secret of the Nile (Egyptian Arabic)

So in Arabic, this series is just called The Grand Hotel. But that doesn’t fly too well in English since there’s already another with the same name—the Spanish series that this one was based on. In this plot, a man talks his way into the staff of a luxurious Egyptian hotel in order to investigate the disappearance of his sister, finding out quite a lot more about Egypt’s most powerful people along the way.

People absolutely loved this show when it came out. In addition, the Egyptian dialect used in the show reflects the high-society schmoozing that could only take place in a beautiful period drama production. When it comes to Netflix shows in Arabic, you can’t miss this one!

4- I Have a Script (Kuwaiti Arabic)

Here’s a social comedy Netflix Arabic TV series with a unique angle: It’s about a woman pursuing her passion for writing television scripts. If you have a dream, sometimes it might never come to fruition without some big event that pushes you to make a leap of faith. In this show, that event is a death in the family—enough to give anyone pause about what they’re doing with their own life.

5- Black Crows (Various Dialects)

This one is intense.

Black Crows tells the story of women living under the rule of the Islamic State in Raqqa, Syria. It’s not a documentary, but rather a Sopranos-style look at the lives of a slave, an undercover journalist, child soldiers, and a woman who was recruited because of ISIS propaganda.

The thirty-episode Arabic Netflix series was released during Ramadan, and only a few episodes in, the actresses involved began to get death threats from the real ISIS for the show’s strongly anti-Islamic State viewpoint. Fortunately, none of the threats have materialized into any kind of real danger, but it certainly lends an incredible sense of realism to watching the series.

Be sure to watch this show with Netflix subtitles (Arabic) for the best learning results!

6- Justice (Emirati Arabic, MSA)

This series from the United Arab Emirates is a fascinating legal drama about Farah, an ambitious lawyer who has just returned home with an American law degree. Her father is already one of the most successful lawyers in the whole UAE and, naturally, he has big plans for his daughter. But her plans don’t necessarily fall in line—and in fact, she aims to carve a new path for women in law.

This Arabic series on Netflix isn’t necessarily a courtroom drama, so you won’t be spending every episode hearing from witnesses and defendants. But at the same time, it’s a great, detailed look at the legal system in a country you might not know much about in the first place.

7- What If? (Kuwaiti Arabic)

Another Ramadan series from 2019, and of the best Arabic Netflix series for learners, this show is about four young people at a crossroads in life. This show actually sparked a bit of controversy because of a single scene in which a woman gives a kiss to a man as she breaks up with him. The fact that this caused a stir on social media should clue you in to what kind of standards are usually upheld in Ramadan series. Nevertheless, the Arabic Netflix series still remains quite popular.

8- Jinn (Multiple Dialects)

Jinn was Netflix’s very first Arabic-language original series. It broke ground in more ways than one, as it’s one of very few Arabic series that focuses on the lives of teenagers instead of adults. The teenagers in the story find themselves tasked with the heavy burden of understanding and investigating the malevolent jinn (a type of spirit in classical Arabic mythology capable of possessing people) in their midst.

Also, because of the multiple dialects, you may find it useful to watch it with Netflix subtitles (Arabic). If you’re up to the challenge, head over to the Arabic Netflix sign in to watch!

9- Hidden Worlds (Egyptian Arabic)

This is a very interesting Arabic show on Netflix when examined in its larger cultural context. The story is about a journalist investigating corruption and finding that the evidence from a murder case points to bigger problems in society as a whole. It even stars the famous Egyptian actor Adel Imam. You might not recognize him, but call up an Egyptian friend and they certainly will.

However, the show is clearly influenced by a particular set of cultural norms and, overall, may be rather shocking to some viewers in the opinions it holds. Watch it critically, or take it as it is: both are good options for your Arabic learning.

10- In the Bosom of a Thorn (Kuwaiti Arabic)

In the year 1990, Kuwait was invaded by the Iraqi Army, triggering the Gulf War. This dramatic Arabic Netflix show tells the story of a baby who was separated from her family during that time and, years later as an adult, must try to make it home to find her mother. It’s not all heartbreaking and it’s not all funny either; this show has a large cast of characters that are more complex than you might realize at first.


3. Hey, All of These are TV Shows!

Best Ways to Learn

You’re right! The thing about using native media to learn another language is that TV shows are actually better than movies for that goal. Thus, to learn Arabic, Netflix TV shows should your first choice.

In a movie, you’ve got two, maybe three hours of story to deal with. There’s going to be action scenes, suspenseful silences, and long, loving gazes. That’s great for cinema, but less great for learning.

TV lets you get used to a relatively small cast over many more hours. You’re likely to hear similar references and turns of phrase over and over, reinforcing your learning each time.

What’s interesting about Arabic TV shows compared to others is that the highest-quality ones are often made to be binge-watched.

During Ramadan, it’s a tradition to follow a particular TV special every day during the entire holy month. Some specials are produced to have exactly as many episodes as that year’s Ramadan has days, while others gamble a bit and make their shows longer or shorter.

Thanks to Netflix’s expansion into the Arabic-speaking market, they’re happy to purchase and distribute Ramadan specials each year.

All this said, if you’re still more of a movie person, we have another article on the best Arabic movies that you can check out!


4. Using Dubbed Media in Arabic to Enjoy Another World of Content

Okay, we just said that TV shows are better than movies for learning. And we’re not taking that back. But if you have a movie from childhood that you’ve watched a zillion times and practically know by heart, you may just have a chance to watch it in Arabic right now.

At the time of this writing, classic animated films like Kung Fu Panda, How to Train Your Dragon, The Bee Movie, and the sequels to Shrek and Madagascar are all available on Netflix with Modern Standard Arabic audio in some regions like Egypt or the UK. Using Netflix Arabic subtitles can be a useful addition to your learning, especially when it comes to movies you already love! This also makes it more than worth the Arabic Netflix price (and you get thirty days free, anyway…).

And of course, there are dubbed shows as well. Most of them are kids’ shows like Puffin Rock and Peppa Pig (with plenty of cartoons for older kids, too), but there are a handful of Netflix-distributed documentaries that come with Arabic audio tracks or Netflix Arabic subtitles.

Although the language used in kids’ cartoons might seem to be simple at first listen, you might be surprised at the range of vocabulary and grammar that they utilize. Just because they’re not describing adult situations doesn’t mean they’re not using the language correctly.

And besides, shows or movies that come from a Western cultural background are probably going to be easier to understand for Westerners because they share the same general principles of narrative structure or cultural references. Using Netflix Arabic subtitles with these movies is a great way to ease yourself into Arabic media if the shows on this list are too advanced for you at the moment.


5. Be the First to Leverage Arabic Audio Descriptions for Your Learning

Another cool thing about Netflix?

If you take a look at some of the most popular TV shows and movies on Netflix, you can see that there’s a second audio track beyond all the dubbed tracks. It’s an “audio description,” meaning that there’s a narrator talking between the lines of dialogue to let you know what’s happening on the screen.

This is extremely useful for language learners.

For example, when you see someone open a refrigerator and there’s nothing to eat, chances are they’re not going to say “The fridge is empty.” So you won’t know how that’s expressed naturally in Arabic until you look it up.

But with an audio description, the seamless narration will fill that tiny gap in the audio, saying exactly what happens. You not only get more Arabic exposure per minute of TV show, you get to learn how everyday things are described by native speakers. It’s immersion turned up to eleven.

As of this writing, there’s just one thing on Netflix that has an audio description in Arabic. It’s Justice, the legal drama mentioned earlier, and the narrator speaks MSA. In order to turn it on, you need to have your account language set to Arabic in the settings.

However, the more viewers turn on that audio description, the more Netflix’s algorithms report that such a thing is popular, meaning that they’re likely to invest more into that type of feature. In regions where Netflix has been around for longer, there are tons of audio description tracks available already for all kinds of shows.


6. Conclusion

As you can see, Netflix is the single biggest platform where you can watch the highest-quality Arabic shows today. This year, there were four big Ramadan releases on Netflix. Next year? The year after that?

An investment in Netflix isn’t for everyone, particularly with the region blocking that goes on (or in some cases, the Arabic Netflix price). But even right now, you can utilize the original series and the dubbed content to get your Arabic media fix, meaning that going ahead to the Arabic Netflix sign in may still be worth your time and money.

The point of using native media to boost your learning is to let yourself escape into another world, driven by another language. When you really want to find out what happens, you’re going to ignore the language difficulties you have and focus on meaning.

That’s when the learning happens.

What did you think about our list of Arabic Netflix shows? Want even more? Check these out, too:

Are there any Arabic Netflix shows we missed that you think are worth mentioning? Let us know in the comments!

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Author: Yassir Sahnoun is a HubSpot certified content strategist, copywriter and polyglot who works with language learning companies. He helps companies attract sales using content strategy, copywriting, blogging, email marketing & more.