Weekend TV : PBS Probes Arabs' 'Living History'; Bob Hope Entertains GIs in the Gulf

Television offers two radically different ways of exploring the Middle East tonight as both Bob Hope and PBS pop up to display what they do best.

Public television trots out the first hour of its 10-part documentary series entitled "The Arabs: A Living History" at 9 p.m. on Channel 28. Tonight's episode chronicles the history of early Arab conquests and the search for Arab unity in the 20th Century.

The producers of this series traveled to 15 countries throughout the Arab world in an attempt to provide an understanding of the complex culture and history of the Arab people. Each segment is written and narrated by an expert in Arab affairs and features conversations with Arabs explaining how they see themselves and their relationship to the rest of the world.

Hope also travels to the Arab world, specifically the Persian Gulf, but his explorations this evening keep him entirely in the company of American GIs and his lovely female cohorts as NBC airs "Bob Hope's USO Christmas" at 9:30 p.m. (Channels 4, 36, 39).

Hope, who has been entertaining American troops since 1941, is joined on several American war ships by Connie Stevens, Barbara Eden, country singer Lee Greenwood and Michele Royer, Miss USA 1987.

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