City of Dreams

Guy Martin

Turkey's soap operas are a huge hit across the Middle East where people are looking to Turkey as a model of a Muslim country that manages to combine secularism and civil liberties with Islamic conservatism.~~Extra-marital affairs, blood feuds, divorce and murder; scenarios that may not reflect the reality of contemporary life in Istanbul but are the plot lines of Turkish soap operas that are drawing in tens of millions of viewers from Athens to Riyadh. The rise in popularity across the Arab world and Balkan countries has made Turkish dramas a huge commercial success, and a vital component of Turkey’s soft power strategy. It is a way for Turkey to export its culture of secularism and wealth to an audience desperate to know more about its close neighbour.

Arab viewers are fascinated with the shows because they purport to reveal how Turks, particularly Turkish women, handle modernity. One series finale pulled in staggering global audience figures of 85 million, with over 50 million of those viewers reported to have been female. Now, as the Arab world finds itself in a period of flux, many television viewers are, consciously or not, looking to Turkey for a lifestyle and governance that is both Muslim and modern.~~But in May 2013, as these shows were in their final weeks of filming for the summer season, Istanbul was witnessing its own, very real, dramatic events. Thousands of young, secular Turks took to the streets to demonstrate against overzealous construction projects Very quickly, however, these rallies grew to wide scale protests against a series of government-backed policies that were seen to curb civil liberties and promote Islamic conservatism.

 

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      Turkey

      A horse grazes undisturbed as an actor pulls a pistol...

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      Turkey

      A fake Mosque being built at a film studio in the...

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      Turkey

      Fans of 'Oyle Bir Gecer Zaman Ki' (As Time Goes By),...

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      Turkey

      A huge curtain illustration of Istanbul at a film lot...

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      Turkey

      Actors, on a set, playing a couple travelling in a...

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      Turkey

      Bystanders and hotel guests shout at the police from...

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      Turkey

      An actor lies 'dead' in the road during filming of...

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      Turkey

      An old wooden villa beside the Bosphorus in Kanlicia...

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      Turkey

      An actor playing a femme fatal awaits instructions at...

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      Turkey

      Two female protesters with yellow goggles and face...

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      Turkey

      Two actors, playing lovers, lie together in a bed on...

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      Turkey

      An actor approaches the scene of a 'murder' on a road...

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      Turkey

      An actor 'waits for an illicit meeting' at the...

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      Turkey

      Actors playing roles as young army recruits...

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      Turkey

      A film script scattered on the floor of a small room...

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      Turkey

      An actor playing a role of a transgender woman...

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      Turkey

      An actor lies 'dead' in the road during filming of...

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      Turkey

      An actor 'collapses into a chair after a heated...

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      Turkey

      A actor stands, surrounded by lighting equipment, in...

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      Turkey

      Two women actors playing roles on the set of the...

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      Turkey

      A man cleans a swimming pool in the grounds of a...

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      Turkey

      A woman walks through the loby of a hotel on the...

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      Turkey

      An extra waits his cue during filming of 'Oyle Bir...

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      Turkey

      A street lamp illuminates the undergrowth in a wooded...

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      Turkey

      Actors playing roles of Turkish Mafia wait to kidnap...

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      Turkey

      A hotel security guard wearing a gas mask watches as...

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      TURKEY

      Actors playing the roles of policemen during filming...

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      Turkey

      An actor on the set of Turkish televison show 'Almost...

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      Turkey

      Lighting on the set of 'Oyle Bir Gecer Zaman Ki' (As...

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      Turkey

      A man from a private security firm stands guard...

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      Turkey

      An extra watches the set during filming of 'Oyle Bir...

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      TURKEY

      Anti government protestors wear gas masks to protect...

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      TURKEY

      People look out over unfinished construction projects...

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      TURKEY

      A man from the Tarlabashi district of Istanbul is...

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      TURKEY

      Arab tourists take pictures of the area around Gezi...

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      Turkey

      Actors kiss, on a set during filming of a televison...

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