Only one host--Muna Abu Sulayman, a Saudi Arabian working on a Ph. in American literature--is veiled, her shimmering hijab the shade of moonbeams. Known for her sexy film roles and scanty outfits, the young Egyptian star stunned her followers by recently deciding to wear the veil."I'm really at peace--wearing the hijab gives me true power," Shiha says, her head swathed in a bright orange polka-dot scarf pushed back to expose her amber eyes.The show's success, according to producers, came from the fact that reform--personal as well as political--is a current buzzword for women across the Middle East, who see sat TV as a means for questioning the status quo.
One woman overcame crippling shyness; another started her own business.Modeled on American hit The View, Kalam Nawaem, broadcast out of Beirut, is a potent mix of cozy chat and edgy issues.Its four hosts include a Palestinian actress, a Lebanese TV veteran--their blue-jeaned, blowdried sleekness straight off Madison Avenue--and a maternal Egyptian self-help columnist, a sort of Muslim Dear Abby. " Abu Sulayman says enthusiastically, smiling at Kalam Nawaem's first guest, actress Hala Shiha.On a softly lit set transformed into a chic, minimalist living room, five Arab women sit on orange and yellow couches, gossiping and laughing in front of a live studio audience.Another episode of the Arab world's top-rated TV program, Kalam Nawaem--which roughly translates as Sweet Talk--is underway.