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Project Runway Middle East vs USA

'Project Runway' the 13 Years Old Show Arrives in its Arabic version, produced by the Lebanese Designer Elle Saab and MBC.

The Arabian version of the popular American show ‘Project Runway’ (first appeared in 2004) is currently being broadcast on MBC as Project Runway Middle East when the second season started last week I was curious and excited to watch how it will be. I loved the first season although back then I thought there could be a place for improvement which the producers probably thought the same too because many changes were made in the second season.

The cast has been replaced and one of the important people who left the show was its presenter, Lebanese-Australian Model and ex-Miss Australia “Jessica Kahawaty”, I had mixed feelings about this, I think Jessica Kahawaty has tv charisma, she had this element and act infront of the camera that distinguishes her just like Heidi Klum from Project Runway USA, although Kahwaty seems a bit un-experienced as a tv presenter but still she could’ve stepped it up in the second season. Miss Lebanon for 2015 Valerie Abu-Shaqra is the new presenter for the show which has excellent presenting skills, you feel she knows how to deal with the camera, but I am sorry, I can’t remember her after the show, unlike Kahawaty, whom I thought she lacked presenting skills but still her charisma exudes the screen, this is the problem with tv and media, this medium is so crowded where you need this X-factor that makes you stand in the crowd, and when there is a tv show with many players in it, each has this counted numbers of minutes to leave his mark and imprint in the audience memory.

The trendsetter for this show is Heidi Klum from Project Runway USA, she has set the standard for others to follow with her signature “One Day You are in and the Next Day You are Out”.

Other changes that took place in this season was replacing Faris Al-Shehri by Saudi Fashion Designer Reem Faisal as a coach for the contestants, as for Reem Faisal her role I find to be very crucial as she is the link between the judges and the contestants, especially if you compare her to Tim Gunn in the American version of the show, I find she does a good job in offering support to the designers. After watching Reem Faisal, I have to say I am impressed, being a mentor is no easy task and she is doing it very well.

Other additions to the show was the Egyptian actress Yusra, well, I was a bit surprised, never thought of her as a fashion icon, but the actress is smart and been in the business for so long where she knows how to pump her image especially with her latest song where she was featured in ‘3 Daqat’.

One of the icons, which I think it would be hard to replace is the Tunisian Model Afaf Jnifan with her strong lady personality which continues in the show, this is what I mean by having a small window of time to reflect who you are to audiences and excel in doing that, Jnifan does it brilliantly, a professional who knows her crafts very well. I also found her fashion and hairstyle appears to get more care and attention this season.

Judges – Yusra, Elle Saab, Afef Jnifen

The thing with bringing a foreign show and trying to adapt it to our Middle Eastern audiences is that it can be tricky a little bit. The wide spectrum of the Arab world and trying to include everyone can be challenging, my guess in the second season the show producers made a shift in their acceptance standards emphasizing more on skill and experience perhaps that’s why more than 10 participants are older than 25 years old in an attempt to make the show more entertaining with the talents and dresses they present for the judges and us as audience as I felt many of the dresses the designers came up with in the first season didn’t measure up to the show and contest, as alast remak, this season didn’t have contetants from UAE, Oman, Qatar, Jordan and Syria.



Heidi Klum

Jessica Kahawaty

Valerie Abu-Shaqra

Reem Faisal

Faris Al-Shehri

Tim Gunn


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