As Netflix gets bigger, stories from around the world feel closer than ever before. From feel-good rom coms to road movies to harrowing war stories, here’s our list of some of the best Arabic movies on Netflix, from countries such as Lebanon, UAE and Saudi Arabia.
Nominated for the Best Foreign Film at the Oscars in 1999, West Beirut tells the unsettling tale of a country ravaged by civil war. Set in 1975, the film follows the story of a teenage boy named Tarek and his family and how they slowly come to terms with the violence and chaos around them, gradually crumbling the country they once called home. Directed Ziad Doueiri’s riveting film offers fascinating insight into the slow-burn trauma faced by the civilians of a war-torn nation, as well as the eternal optimism of children in the face of adversity.
The Book Of Sun
A hilarious joy ride beaming with heart, The Book Of Sun follows the story of a high school student’s lifelong dream of directing his own horror film and how, with the help of his wacky friends and zany teacher, he makes it come true. Faris Godus’ film is far more than the sum of its laughs in how it explores the insecurities and crippling self doubt of a young man trying to navigate his way through high school whilst attempting to pursue his dreams.
From A to B
Three friends decide to set off on a road trip across the Middle East to commemorate the death anniversary of their friend who died in Beirut. Whilst Ali Mostafa’s film is full of humorous situations, its heart lies in the internal journey of its characters and their journey to reconnecting with one and other whilst coming to terms with loss. Add to that how it captures the lavish beauties of the Middle East from Jordan to Saudi Arabia giving us serious travel goals, as any great road movie does.
Directed by the first female director from Saudi Arabia, Haifaa-Al-Mansour, Wadjda entails the story of a ten-year-old girl who harbours the dream of owning and riding a cycle (an activity that is prohibited for girls in Saudi Arabia). In order to fulfil her dream she decides to participate in a Quran recitation competition and use the prize money. Wadjda uses warmth and heart of a young girl’s story to comment on the culturally restrictive lives that women lead in the country.
Barakah Meets Barakah
Barakah Meets Barakah is a sweet romantic comedy set in the conservative city of Jeddah, and was the first Saudi film to stream on Netflix. It centres on the unlikely romance between polar opposites – a social media influencer and a government servant and uses their equation to shed light on the evolution of the country’s freedom.
Zinzana (Rattle of the Cage)
A taut thriller which takes place exclusively within the confines of a prison cell, the riveting film follows a man who’s been arrested for a minor crime. He’s held in a dilapidated police station with minimal staff, only to realise that there is a larger game playing out, involving him as bait. Over 96 gripping minutes, director Majid Al Ansari keeps you on tenterhooks with a racy screenplay and razor sharp editing.