Television of the holy month

“One begins to wonder, what is the real message promoted during the holy month?”

This question, asked in front of a TV airing endless Ramadan-specific shows and entertainment, got artist and designer Khalid Mezaina from the UAE to devote an entire series of illustrations, released and shared daily, to the essence and meaning of Ramadan today. His images portray snapshots of things he remembers from years of watching televised Ramadan series, and they invite people to think, just like himself, about what place the holy month has in today’s fast and commercialised life.

“The holy month of Ramadan is a month of discipline and reflection. It ironically is also the month where excess is most apparent. Over the course of the many Ramadans I’ve encountered, I’ve always tried my best to be disciplined and play my part in being a ‘better Muslim’. Some years have been successful while others have been an absolute failure. But that’s the point of Ramadan I guess – to be challenging.”

“Throughout the ups and downs of past Ramadans, one constant in all my experiences has been the TV. Growing up, TV was an integral part of family life, especially during Ramadan. After iftar, the Mezainas all gathered in the living room, for the food to settle in our systems and to be entertained with what was on the television. Over the years, what we were exposed to as a family changed extremely. From light hearted shows like the Egyptian musical ‘Fawazeers’ and funny sketch comedies from Kuwait, TV has over years shifted to showing tragic soap operas from Turkey, excessive and constant advertising of Vimto and other food items which really aren’t the best options for consumption during Ramadan, and images of national pride and the sad politics of the Arab world.”
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