A radio drama for Syria, qualitative research findings

Hay el Matar is any street in Syria; when you listen, you feel you are inside Syria.Listener, Hay el Matar (Airport District)

Against the backdrop of the war in Syria BBC Media Action produced and broadcast 150 episodes of the radio drama Hay el Matar (Airport District) between 2015 and 2017. Funded by the European Commission as part of a broader project aiming to help build an open and inclusive society in Syria, the drama and an accompanying weekly discussion programme was available online and on BBC Arabic.

Set in a fictional Damascus suburb, Hay el Matar followed the daily lives of residents and featured love affairs, family feuds and tragedies . Each episode was scripted by a team of Syrian writers and touched on a different issue - from violence, radicalisation and migration, to economic insecurity and forced marriage.

To understand how listeners engaged with Hay El Matar, BBC Media Action commissioned and trained local non-governmental organisations (NGOs) to conduct focus group discussions with listeners in Syria and Lebanon. We found that the drama prompted listeners to think about topical issues, challenges stereotypes and have a view of the Syrian conflict that extended beyond their own personal experience. It also challenged their assumptions and prompted them to talk about and reflect on other people’s multi-faceted experiences of the conflict .