The short-form CNN International series is entitled “Together Apart: Stories of Ramadan,” with five-minute episodes focusing on weekly themes such as family, community, spirituality, wellness and hope, and illustrated by personal stories told via interviews and first-person accounts.
While the CNN partnership marks the only news collaboration, entertainment initiatives include partnerships with Arab digital platform 7AWI, Shoof, Charisma Group and Roya TV.
Partnerships will also support existing linear and VOD Ramadan broadcast schedules, with anticipated series premieres hosting full series runs on Facebook, as well as adding exclusive highlights, pre-shows and after-shows as additional content.
Facebook said it marked the biggest week for live broadcasts across its ‘Spiritual’ pages since the launch of Facebook Live in April 2016. The social media giant highlighted that between April 6-12, the number of people tuning into spiritual live broadcasts increased more than threefold since the same period in March.
The shows will launch on Facebook Watch on Thursday, the first day of Ramadan, and run for four weeks. Videos will be available to view on each partner’s Facebook page, and will be discoverable under the handle #RamadanTogether.
Louise Holmes, director of media partnerships for EMEA at Facebook, said: “With the world going through such a difficult time, and family and friends unable to come together in person, now more than ever it is so important that we create opportunities for connection on our platforms.
“In recognition of these new realities, we have collaborated with partners around the world in order to shine a light on communities who are using their voices virtually this year, to represent the diverse ways of how Ramadan is experienced,” said Holmes.
The full list of partnerships is below (all descriptions provided by Facebook):
CNN International – “Together Apart: Stories of Ramadan” (EMEA)
CNN International will tell the story of how people are staying together, apart, during unprecedented times – spotlighting those bringing the spirit of togetherness into a virtual observation. Each week “Together Apart: Stories of Ramadan” will focus on a different theme and tell these inspiring and heartwarming stories across English language and Arabic Facebook platforms. The weekly themes will be: family, community, spirituality, wellness and hope – with the final video of the series including how people are observing Eid instead of their usual travel plans. CNN International will tell these stories through interviews, first-hand accounts and user content from contributors about Ramadan, the impact of COVID-19 and social distancing rules and how they have changed the way they live, work and socialize during – and in preparation of – this moment in the calendar in comparison to previous years. [10 episodes, 5 minutes each]
7awi will be launching seven original shows on Facebook Watch across their lifestyle pages including Layalina, Sa2eh and Alqiyady. The shows, entitled ‘Caffeine’; ‘The Weekly Brew’; ‘The Year in Review 2020’; ‘Makeover in 5’; ‘Budget Travel; ‘Dars Arabi’ and ‘Jusoor Cultural’ – will span lifestyle, cooking and beauty themes, and range from 3-20 minutes per episode.
Four new Shoof Drama series will be aired on Facebook shortly following their on-demand premieres on Shoof, as part of their scheduled Ramadan programming. The series Waklinha Walaa 2, Wlad Imbaba, Hawajis Abira and Mayyada W Wlada will air daily with 45-minute episodes, and span comedy, family dramas and sitcoms. To complement the programming, Shoof will also host show clips and highlights.
Charisma Group (Worldwide)
Exclusive entertainment news, behind-the-scenes interviews and after-shows will air on Facebook Watch as part of ‘Entertainment Tonight Bil Arabi’ televised Ramadan content, alongside clip and highlights from original broadcasts.
Roya TV (Worldwide)
Exclusive pre-show and after-show content will air on Facebook as part of Roya TV’s Ramadan programming schedule.
NAS Daily: Stories of Ramadan (Singapore, Indonesia)
Premiering on Thursday, 23 April on the Nas Daily Facebook page, the eight-episode series takes viewers on a journey through the different aspects of Ramadan, from fasting to charitable giving. The series will take a look at the different ways that Ramadan is celebrated around the world, including in the light of COVID-19. In Singapore, Nas meets with local Facebook community, Free Food For All (FFFA), who distributes halal-certified food and groceries to the needy, and also runs a community fridge in Yishun. In Indonesia, Nas Daily partners with local comedian, Cameo Project, for a lighthearted look at some of the struggles of the fasting ritual.
Khalid Al Ameri (UAE)
Khalid Al Ameri will be exclusively hosting four videos (once per week) over the Ramadan period, and will show him travelling to different parts of the world to spotlight communities with inspiring stories to tell. The episodes are entitled ‘The Balikbayan Box’, ‘A Muslim and A Church’, ‘An Arab in Kerela’ and ‘When Arab Travels’. In addition, he will also air a weekly show of good news called ‘News like This’.
Ahmad Al Shugairi (Saudi Arabia)
Ahmed Al-Shugairi will be hosting regular videos on Facebook Watch to celebrate Ramadan with his community, including a film about the era of artificial intelligence, in which he presents the latest developments and futuristic projects around the world. He will also host a daily Ramadan show called ‘Hope Makers’ (30 episodes), with each episode honoring one person/institution that pursues a humanitarian goal.
Mohamed Abdulle & Basma Khalifa (U.K.)
Facebook and Instagram Creators Mohamed Abdulle and Basma Khalifa will be sharing how they will be celebrating Ramadan this year, using social platforms to come together and discuss with others how they plan to celebrate this year’s unprecedented religious festival. Marking the start of Ramadan, together, they have made a short video entitled ‘Ramadan Stories’ which sees them joined by influential creators such as lifestyle influencer Dina Tokio, model Mariah Idrissi and BBC Radio presenter Mim Shaikh, exploring the differences between their cultures and how they and their communities celebrate Ramadan.