MDI Training for Soap Opera Scriptwriters

Dates: 8-9 June 2013

Country: Egypt, Sokhna

soup1Twelve Egyptian soap opera scriptwriters participated in a two-days training on Inclusive Media in Sokhna, Egypt. The course was provided by Media Diversity Institute Director, Milica Pesic, and the Egyptian scriptwriter Shahira Sallam.

The aims of the workshops were to encourage the participants to see their societies the way they are: diverse, multicultural and pluralistic rather than homogeneous monocultures, and to broaden their professional skills to better represent diversity through fair, well-researched, sympathetic and dignified coverage.

Soap operas are very popular in Egypt and across the Arab world whose content is hugely influential in shaping social perceptions, attitudes and lessons that the audience carry with them into their daily lives.  “The influence that these entertaining media content can have shaping opinions among the society is huge”, affirms MDI’s director.

Therefore, the purpose of this training was to encourage the participants to create Egyptian entertainment programmes thinking of inclusion and richness of diversity, which also has the benefit to attract a broader audience.


During the training, the Egyptian media professionals discussed  about stereotypes in films and soap operas, followed by a session where they wrote scripts to express the acceptance of others, diversity and tolerance. The idea was to help them to develop ideas for characters, story lines and plots that reflect the diversity of life experience throughout their country and the region.

The Egyptian scriptwriters learn why an inclusive and diverse media matters through a session with Milica Pesic. They also explored core principles on ethical and responsible media treatment of members of the society:  tolerance and anti-discrimination, codes of conduct, questioning stereotypes, eliminating prejudice.

Some of the participants commented that they had “never thought about diversity before the training” and that is “the right time to introduce debates on diversity in Egypt”.

They also came with recommendations such as the creation of a soap opera devoted to Egyptian diversity, more training focus on inclusion and diversity, and a future cooperation with Cinema Institute to develop a module dedicated to inclusion and diversity for filmmaker and scriptwriter students in Egyptian universities.

This training is part of a project “Rebuilding Post-revolution Egyptian Media: EMBRACING FREE EXPRESSION, DIVERSITY AND INCLUSIVENESS” funded by Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (SIDA).