CNN travels to Dubai next month

MUMBAI: News broadcaster CNN anchor Hala Gorani hosts the special Inside The Middle East from Dubai in December as she takes viewers on a journey to Lebanon and Tunisia to meet a singing legend and one of the most prolific film producers from the Middle East. The special airs on 2 December 2006 at 2 pm, 8 pm, 3 December at 6 pm and on 7 December at 8 pm.

In Beirut, CNN correspondent Brent Sadler meets 82-year old tarab singer, Nahawand, one of the most elderly performers in the Middle East. Twice a week she rocks her audiences in the aisles of Music Hall, a trendy Beirut nightclub where the Lebanese glitterati dance on tables to the powerful voice of ‘the nightingale'. Now, with age, she suffers mentally but never forgets her lyrics. Her doctors remark that this frail woman in her trademark black suit and red scarf literally lives to sing, and that those few minutes on stage every week may be her motivation to stay alive.

Gorani then explores the history of Western film production in Tunisia, where much of the country's movement can be attributed to Tunisian-born Tarak Ben Ammar, who is today a major international film broker and movie producer. Currently producing the upcoming ‘Hannibal Rising' movie, he also took part in producing popular films like ‘Star Wars' and the ‘Raiders of the Lost Ark' movies. Ben Ammar shows INSIDE THE MIDDLE EAST around his magnificent Greco-Roman film set north of Tunis, revealing how he convinced Hollywood legends Steven Spielberg and George Lucas to shoot their movies in his native Tunisia, helping transform the small North African country into one of Hollywood's favourite film sets.

The show also looks at a specific problem affecting life in the Middle East: iodine deficiency disorder. Just a pinch of iodised salt with a meal is known to be enough to eliminate the primary cause of preventable learning difficulties and brain damage. But mental retardation, dwarfism and speech defects due to IDD have yet to be eliminated in the region despite efforts to get salt producers to add iodine to their product. In Egypt's rural Nile Delta, the show looks at one anti-IDD programme targeting babies that is proving successful and follows an Egyptian health minister in his battle against IDD as he seeks to rid the souks, shops and stores of illegally produced, un-iodised salt.

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