Banning Turkish TV shows is an empty gesture

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Turkey is the shining star of the Muslim world in all aspects. It has the largest and also the most successful military, it is a leading economy and has surpassed the so-called oil-rich countries in helping the poor and the needy of the world as a leading donor country.

The people of the Muslim world look up to Turkey as a ray of hope for salvation, and many Muslim leaders are criticized by their own people for not living up to the qualities of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. This was once again proven when Erdoğan visited Algeria, Mauritania, Mali and Senegal last week.

This has of course created deep jealousy and resentment among Arab leaders. They are trying to hurt Turkey instead of joining its efforts to boost the poor and needy of the Muslim world by giving Erdoğan a helping hand to provide all kinds of assistance to the underdogs of the world.

So the most recent victim of this jealousy seems to be the Turkish TV shows.The famous Arab MBC network in Dubai, partially owned by the Saudi royal family, decided to ban Turkish TV shows, which are extremely popular in the Middle East. The ban came after the president of the TV network, Waleed al-Ibrahim, was released from captivity after being detained along with the other Saudi princes and businessmen on charges of corruption and being involved in irregularities.

It seems the Saudis were not at all happy with Ankara defending Qatar when Saudi Arabia tried to impose a blockade against the tiny oil- and natural gas-rich country along with the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Egypt and Bahrain. The blockade failed dismally and the Saudis were humiliated.

So it seems the Saudis are using every opportunity to hurt Turkish interests, which is counter-productive. Turkey is a friend of Saudi Arabia and has no intention of being at odds with Riyadh.

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman bin Abdulaziz al-Saud is striving for reforms in his country and Turkey is his best model of a modern state where the people of the country are devout Muslims. Regarding Turkey as an adversary is self-defeating.

It is no secret that some fundamentalist religious figures in Saudi Arabia have opposed Turkish TV shows and other TV shows as un-Islamic, but that is even a better reason for the reform-minded Saudi crown prince to encourage the airing of these TV programs.

Turkey has made giant leaps in the TV shows, as it has in other areas. Turkish TV show exports, which were around $10 million in 2008, jumped to a massive $350 million in 2016, and experts believe this will reach $1 billion annually by 2023.

Turkey exports its TV shows to Latin American countries as well as Asia and the Middle East. The industry is now investing millions of dollars to improve the quality of the shows. Experts say the Saudi move may have short-term effects, but in the long run it is impossible to scuttle Turkish exports in this field in view of modern technology that allows consumers to use various platforms to buy and watch these shows without MBC channels.

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