Saudi youngsters slam ‘cringing’ quality of Ramadan TV shows

With access to Hollywood productions, Bollywood films and streaming services, the Saudi viewer is 50 years ahead of Saudi productions. (Supplied)
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Updated 21 May 2020

Saudi youngsters slam ‘cringing’ quality of Ramadan TV shows

  • Call for a better understanding and respect for audiences

JEDDAH: A popular Saudi YouTuber has slammed some of this year’s Ramadan TV shows for being “uncreative” and “cringing” to watch.

Actor Abdul Majeed Al-Kinani told fans he had been turned off by the “sorry state” of a number of TV offerings produced for the holy month of fasting.

In one of the latest episodes of his hit online show, “Luqaimat,” he singled out two Saudi productions for particular criticism.

Describing the poor standard of acting in the Saudi Broadcasting Authority’s “1 Billion” show, Al-Kinani said: “The worst moment that a human can undergo, is when you watch a scene unfold and cringe, when you’ve got nothing to do with it.”

Playing clips showing actors delivering their lines directly to camera, he added: “I feel offended that our official TV channel is being treated this way.”

Calling for a better understanding and respect for Saudi audiences, he said: “I have high hopes in the people at the authority and ministry to take action and follow up on how this work made it onto the screen in its sorry state.”

He also lambasted Ramadan series “Exit 7,” starring “Tash Ma Tash” actor Nasser Al-Qasabi, for being “uncreative and repetitive” in its plot.

Al-Kinani had pledged that 2019 would be the final season of “Luqaimat,” but due to popular demand he agreed to a return. The light entertainment show was launched in 2012 on the YouTube channel SceenTV covering topical issues in the Kingdom and throughout the Gulf region.

HIGHLIGHTS

  • ‘1 Billion’ show and ‘Exit 7’ have been described as ‘repetitive and uncreative.’
  • ‘Ureem,’ a comedy series about a young man who works for a ride-hailing company, received good response.
  • Call for more professional resources and tools such as talent agencies.

Reacting to Al-Kinani’s comments, Nora Al-Rifai, a 28-year-old TV show and movie fanatic, said: “People’s reaction and the trending hashtag (on Twitter) prove how aware the audience has become to the point where you can’t just present them (TV shows) with any content and call it comedy or drama.

“Because of streaming services and movies reopening, people have a lot to compare it to, and if it doesn’t live up to their expectations, then it has to go,” she added.

Dahlia Baeshen, a Saudi scriptwriter, said there was little to compare between international and local production standards. “We are a much younger industry. Some aspects of filming techniques are less visually appealing. The reopening of cinemas in the Kingdom will further change the taste of upcoming audiences.

“On the other hand, I do believe there is a shift regarding the subject matter of TV shows. Some topics in ‘Exit 7’ were bold and daring and would never have been discussed just a few years back. This leap is quite impressive.”

She noted that the Kingdom had numerous emerging talents with youth aspiring to be filmmakers, writers, and actors.

“Talent is crucial, of course, but I think more importantly, creatives need to find a platform to connect. We have a rich history and culture and a plethora of stories to tell. However, I think in order for TV to change, we need to have a better construction and structure within the industry, matching various talents with one another,” Baeshen added.

Professional resources and tools, such as talent agencies representing artists and writer and director guilds, were necessary, she said.

After witnessing the growth in YouTube TV series, she added: “I think we have come a long way, but there is a lot of room to do more. A lot of the content, especially on YouTube, is very male-oriented. I would love to see more content written by females to reveal the other side of the spectrum.”

Afnan Linjawi, a Saudi screenwriter and poet, said: “With access to Hollywood productions, Bollywood films, streaming services like Netflix, and Spanish, British and other productions, if we do the math, the Saudi viewer is 50 years ahead of Saudi productions.

“The Saudi viewer may know what good TV is, but sadly most don’t know what it takes to make good TV.”

She told Arab News that quality television required a stable and robust production industry with unwavering infrastructure and qualified personnel. “A good decade of failures, trials and errors, and successes is mandatory.”

Saudi producer, Jawaher Al-Mary, said TV in the Kingdom deserved a second chance. “With regard to recent works, I think the ideas in them are repetitive, and some go as far as being shameful. That is not due to a specific genre, be it drama or comedy, but the overall content.”

She felt that “Ureem,” a comedy series about a young man who works for a ride-hailing company, was the only Ramadan show worth noting.

Other social media users echoed Al-Kinani’s frustration about this year’s Ramadan TV content.

Ali Al-Saif said: “Those from his generation have witnessed great media exposure and followed countless massive international works that undoubtedly affected their tastes and the public’s as a result. The viewer can now differentiate between great and less-than-mediocre ones.”


Saudi Arabia could return to extreme precautionary restrictions, minister warns

Penalties will be doubled upon repetition of the violation. (SPA)
Updated 42 min 35 sec ago

Saudi Arabia could return to extreme precautionary restrictions, minister warns

  • People not wearing masks will be fined

JEDDAH: The Kingdom could return to extreme precautionary restrictions if the number of COVID-19 patients exceeds the medical sector’s capacity, Saudi Arabia’s Health Minister Tawfiq Al-Rabiah warned on Saturday.

“Public awareness and adherence to precautionary measures is essential to continue the ease of restrictions,” Al-Rabiah told Al-Arabiya on Saturday. “We continue monitoring the situation based on the number of critical cases in hospitals and their capacity to receive them. We want to be able to receive all cases that reach out to us and provide them with the care that they need. We are all in one boat in this situation, we are one team, and we must work together cautiously. Lack of commitment will definitely take us back to where we were.”

The minister expressed his concern about overcrowding in some public places during the Eid holidays, adding that while crowds were likely at the initial phase of the ‘unlock’ he remained optimistic about the public’s awareness level.

The minister said that although children were the least likely to be infected they could carry the virus without symptoms. He advised families to keep children away from elderly members of their families such as grandparents.

There were 1,618 new cases reported in Saudi Arabia, meaning that 83,384 people have now contracted the disease. There are currently 24,501 active cases.

The Health Ministry announced that 1,870 more patients had recovered from COVID-19, bringing the total number of recoveries to 58,883. More than 70 percent of coronavirus patients in the Kingdom have recovered from the disease.

There were 22 new COVID-19-related deaths reported on Saturday, raising the total number of fatalities to 480.

The ministry has assigned 30 health practitioners to carry out the third stage of an expanded examination plan to assess the prevalence of COVID-19 in the city of Makkah.

FASTFACTS

• 58,883 recoveries

• 24,501 active cases

The examination will take place at a center in the Al-Zaidi district, where citizens and expats will be tested inside their cars through 12 tracks without the need to leave their vehicles. The center has the capacity for over 1,000 tests daily and these will be carried out through appointments made on the ministry’s Sehaty app.

Adjustments to previously announced social-distancing measures and regulations were announced by the Saudi Interior Ministry on Saturday. These include new violation penalties, as the second stage of restriction-easing starts on May 31.

Individuals who intentionally violate regulations will pay SR1,000 ($266). Breaches include not wearing a mask, not committing to social distancing marks and areas, refusing to undergo temperature checks at entrances, or not adhering to preventive protocols if their temperature is higher than 38 degrees Celsius.

The ministry amended the maximum number of people allowed for social gatherings inside homes, rest houses, farms, or in social events such as funerals and parties to 50 people.

Private sector establishments that are found to be non-compliant with new preventive measures and protocols will pay a penalty of SR10,000.

This penalty covers violations such as admitting entry to individuals not wearing medical or cloth masks, lack of disinfectants and sterilizers, not checking employee and customer temperatures at entrances, lack of sterilization on shopping facilities, cart surfaces and shopping baskets after each use, as well as opening fitting rooms and children’s play areas.
Penalties will be doubled upon repetition of the violation.