Saudis mourn death of Abdul Khaleq Al-Ghanim, creator of hit show ‘Tash Ma Tash’

Abdul Khaleq Al-Ghanim. (Supplied)
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Abdul Khaleq Al-Ghanim. (Supplied)
Al-Ghanim also directed the 2005 cultural Saudi show “Majadeef Al-Amal” that was created in Al-Ahsa, Dammam, and Kerala in India. (Supplied)
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Al-Ghanim also directed the 2005 cultural Saudi show “Majadeef Al-Amal” that was created in Al-Ahsa, Dammam, and Kerala in India. (Supplied)
Al-Ghanim also directed the 2005 cultural Saudi show “Majadeef Al-Amal” that was created in Al-Ahsa, Dammam, and Kerala in India. (Supplied)
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Al-Ghanim also directed the 2005 cultural Saudi show “Majadeef Al-Amal” that was created in Al-Ahsa, Dammam, and Kerala in India. (Supplied)
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Updated 20 May 2021

Saudis mourn death of Abdul Khaleq Al-Ghanim, creator of hit show ‘Tash Ma Tash’

Saudis mourn death of Abdul Khaleq Al-Ghanim, creator of hit show ‘Tash Ma Tash’
  • The director had been suffering from prostate cancer and succumbed to the disease on May 18
  • His comedy show ‘Tash Ma Tash’ had been a staple in every Saudi household during Ramadan

JEDDAH: People in Saudi Arabia are mourning the death of Abdul Khaleq Al-Ghanim, the director and creator of the hit comedy show “Tash Ma Tash” that has been a staple in every Saudi household during Ramadan for more than 20 years.

A picture that circulated online recently showed Al-Ghanim sitting in a wheelchair, leaning on a cane and showing signs of fatigue. Actors on social media asked fans to pray for him.

The director had been suffering from prostate cancer and succumbed to the disease on Tuesday. 

News of his passing shocked the stars of “Tash Ma Tash,” Nasser Al-Qasabi and Abdullah Al-Sadhan.

Al-Qasabi expressed his heartbreak on Twitter. “I was shocked by the painful news, the death of my dear friend, director Abdul Khaleq Al-Ghanim after suffering from a long illness,” he said. “It is so painful to me, and to everyone who knew you and got close to you, to lose you. May Allah bestow mercy on your soul. My condolences to Al-Ghanim’s family, his brothers and his mother, and may Allah grant you patience for this painful separation.”

BACKGROUND

  • After finishing his studies in Baghdad, he returned to Saudi Arabia only to find there was no local production industry. 
  • He began his career in 1992, becoming famous for directing drama and comedy series over the course of his 30-year career.
  • In an interview on the Rotana Khalijia channel, he said he had loved acting from a young age and always imagined being an actor. He added that he used to save up his money to go to the movies.

The director’s son Wafi tweeted: “He passed away and left with him a beautiful time that will not come back. Oh Allah, I do not object to your judgment, but longing has overpowered me, and I have no power to bear it.”

Al-Ghanim’s wife Lauren Al-Issa, who is also a director, told Al-Arabiya.net that his illness began after the release of the show “Shad Balad” in 2016.

“He made the necessary tests that revealed he had prostate cancer,” she said. “He then treated it and stabilized his condition and, when he was preparing for the series ‘Snap Shaf’ in 2017, the disease came back. He underwent treatment again at King Fahd Specialist Hospital in Dammam. 




A picture that circulated online recently showed Al-Ghanim sitting in a wheelchair, leaning on a cane and showing signs of fatigue. Actors on social media asked fans to pray for him. (Supplied)

“Six months ago, his condition began to worsen as the cancer moved from the prostate to the lymph nodes, and then it moved to his bones and his condition was stable, but doctors imposed chemotherapy on him. But the chemotherapy that was given to him by vein (intravenously) did not suit his body, so it affected him. He could not eat, and he was constantly vomiting, which affected his health and caused him to lose 20 kilograms.”

Rahaf Jambi, a 30-year-old social media influencer, spoke about Al-Ghanim’s legacy and the impact of his work on Saudi society.

“I feel like the whole (of) Saudi society was heavily influenced by the stories of ‘Tash Ma Tash,’ it was ahead of its time and a lot of its stories are still imprinted on our minds,” he told Arab News.

“Tash Ma Tash” aired every Ramadan and tackled Saudi social issues, most of which were controversial at the time.

The show ran for 18 seasons and featured comedy sketches. Every episode had its own story and characters, with some popular characters reappearing in new storylines. 

Most episodes mocked the flaws of Saudi society, while others showed a tendency for dark comedy and melodrama.

“Tash Ma Tash” was one of the pioneers of self-criticism in Saudi media, addressing sensitive topics such as terrorism, marital relations, and religion.

“‘Tash Ma Tash’ was considered to be the doorway for us, between us and the world,” Jambi said. “This is what Abdul Khaleq created, the door between us and the world. Until today we are sharing clips of the show. Yes, this person passed away, but no one will ever forget his work for the rest of their life. He will remain immortal through his stories. He brought so much value to Saudi society, no one will ever forget him.”

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Rhe ‘Tash Ma Tash’ show ran for 18 seasons and featured comedy sketches. Every episode had its own story and characters, with some popular characters reappearing in new storylines. 
  • The director touched on issues such as the religious police and terrorist groups in some episodes, a move that was criticized by some.

 

Cabin crew manager Ahmed Abdullatif, 28, recalled the fond memories he had of watching the show with his father every Ramadan while growing up.

“It is such a funny show, and a must-watch for a joyous and quality family time,” he told Arab News. “It did bring up sensitive societal issues and shared messages of forgiveness.”

He spent 12 years abroad, and watching clips of “Tash Ma Tash” made Abdullatif feel close to home. “I learned more about my own culture through the show, and I can say my country is full of generous creatives.”

Fan Salah Abu Qassem called the director’s death a “big loss” for Saudi drama and described him as an “exceptional” director.

“We have years-long memories with his show ‘Tash Ma Tash,’ eagerly waiting for the episodes in Ramadan. He was the hidden hero behind the screen, and he drew a smile on millions of people’s faces,” he said.

Al-Ghanim also directed the 2005 cultural Saudi show “Majadeef Al-Amal” that was created in Al-Ahsa, Dammam, and Kerala in India.

Saudi restaurant owner Mohammed Fadin, 26, said: “He is such a creative mind. He knew how to create Saudi drama and knew how to bring up and solve Saudi societal issues in a creative way with Nasser Al-Qasabi and Abdullah Al-Sadhan.”




Al-Ghanim began his career in 1992, becoming famous for directing drama and comedy series over the course of his 30-year career. (Supplied)

The director touched on issues such as the religious police and terrorist groups in some episodes, a move that was criticized by some. “He was so strong to continue his artistic journey without letting people bring him down,” added Fadin.

Al-Ghanim was born in 1958 in the city of Saihat, Qatif governorate. He graduated from the Institute of Fine Arts in Baghdad.

After finishing his studies in Baghdad, he returned to Saudi Arabia only to find there was no local production industry. 

He began his career in 1992, becoming famous for directing drama and comedy series over the course of his 30-year career.

In an interview on the Rotana Khalijia channel, he said he had loved acting from a young age and always imagined being an actor. He added that he used to save up his money to go to the movies.

Al-Ghanim had the idea of putting the director’s picture at the end of the closing credits, saying he had read about many directors without knowing what their faces looked like. 

He saw it as his right, as a director, to appear to the viewers like actors did.


LinkedIn unveils top startups in Saudi Arabia 

LinkedIn has released its 2021 LinkedIn Top Startups list, identifying the top 10 startups in Saudi Arabia. (Supplied)
LinkedIn has released its 2021 LinkedIn Top Startups list, identifying the top 10 startups in Saudi Arabia. (Supplied)
Updated 24 September 2021

LinkedIn unveils top startups in Saudi Arabia 

LinkedIn has released its 2021 LinkedIn Top Startups list, identifying the top 10 startups in Saudi Arabia. (Supplied)
  • LinkedIn marked the Kingdom’s 91st National Day by revealing the first list of top startups in KSA

DUBAI: LinkedIn has released its 2021 LinkedIn Top Startups list, identifying the top 10 startups in Saudi Arabia. Based on data from the company and compiled by the LinkedIn News team, the Top Startups list globally is an annual ranking of the emerging startups to watch out for and work for.

In its inaugural year, the list from KSA highlights the Kingdom’s emerging startups through a four-pillar methodology that measures employment growth, engagement, job interest, and talent attraction. It showcases startups that are successfully navigating the evolution of consumer and business needs in the post-pandemic landscape.

Many are paving the way through the “Great Reshuffle,” a phrase coined by LinkedIn to signify the moment of unprecedented change in which employers and employees are rethinking how and why people work.

The startup funding rate in KSA, which was about $8 million per annum in 2016, surged to over $150 million in 2020 and continues to grow exponentially in 2021, according to business research firm Magnitt.

The top 10 companies on the list are:

- Sary

- Tamara

- Jahez International Co.

- The Chefz

- Salasa

- Zid

- Nejree

- Shgardi

- Hala

- Shift inc.

“Startups are a natural place to look to for forward thinking and innovation around the future of how we live and work. LinkedIn’s Top Startups list for KSA is the place to find the startups you should be paying attention to,” said Salma Altantawy, news editor for the Middle East and North Africa region at LinkedIn.

Based on the list, LinkedIn has identified three key trends driving the startup market in the Kingdom:

Convenience: The companies featured on the list are ones offering easy-to-use apps that have revolutionized the concept of convenience for customers and businesses in the country. Sary, for instance, connects small businesses with wholesalers to boost the supply chain, while Tamara aims to empower people with its buy now pay later business model.

Delivery: With people turning to e-commerce more and more during the pandemic, the convenience of using an app to order everything from groceries to sneakers has become second nature to most shoppers, explaining the success of companies such as Zid and The Chefz.

Logistics: Through innovation and technology, small companies are able to make a big impact. For example, Hala provides effective logistics solutions from warehousing to freight forwarding. Similarly, Shift inc. offers smart transportation solutions in an easy-to-use format.

“The startups — mostly in the apps, technology, information technology and business-to-business marketplace space — are innovative, contributing to the Kingdom’s growth and helping build the booming small to medium-sized enterprise ecosystem,” added Altantawy.


Burundian journalist briefly detained while investigating blast

Bujumbura was investigating a series of explosions this week that killed at least five people. (REUTERS)
Bujumbura was investigating a series of explosions this week that killed at least five people. (REUTERS)
Updated 24 September 2021

Burundian journalist briefly detained while investigating blast

Bujumbura was investigating a series of explosions this week that killed at least five people. (REUTERS)
  • Police on Friday briefly detained a journalist investigating a grenade attack in the commercial capital Bujumbura in Burundi

NAIROBI: Police on Friday briefly detained a journalist investigating a grenade attack in the commercial capital Bujumbura, his radio station said, after a series of explosions this week that killed at least five people.
Radio Bonesha FM had earlier said their reporter, Aimé-Richard Niyonkuru, had been mishandled and arrested by police in Bujumbura’s Kamenge neighborhood while he investigated a grenade incident that was said to have killed two people on Thursday.
“Radio Bonesha FM journalist arrested on Friday morning by the police has just been released. Aimé Richard Niyonkuru is still waiting for his recorder. He spent many hours at the Special Research Office under the hot sun,” the station said on Twitter.
Police spokespeople were not immediately available to comment on the arrest.
Burundi, a nation of about 11.5 million people, has suffered decades of war and ethnic and political violence. The United Nations says the youth wing of the ruling party and the security services are involved in the torture, gang-rape and murder of political opponents, charges the government denies.
On Monday, two grenade explosions hit a bus park in Bujumbura, while on Sunday a grenade attack in the administrative capital Gitega killed two, according to local media.
The Interior Ministry said “unidentified terrorists” were responsible for attacks in Bujumbura. There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attacks.
An airport worker said on Monday there had also been an attack on the Bujumbura airport on Saturday, for which Congo-based rebel group Red Tabara claimed responsibility, saying it fired mortars as the president prepared to travel to the United Nations General Assembly in New York.
On Tuesday, Attorney General Sylvestre Nyandwi accused leaders of a suspended opposition party, MSD, of being behind the recent attacks, adding that authorities had issued international arrest warrants for them.


Podean wins The Drum startup agency of year award

Global Amazon agency and marketplace consultancy Podean has been named as startup agency of the year at The Drum advertising awards. (Supplied)
Global Amazon agency and marketplace consultancy Podean has been named as startup agency of the year at The Drum advertising awards. (Supplied)
Updated 24 September 2021

Podean wins The Drum startup agency of year award

Global Amazon agency and marketplace consultancy Podean has been named as startup agency of the year at The Drum advertising awards. (Supplied)
  • E-commerce firm specializing in Amazon advertising scoops international gong

DUBAI: Global Amazon agency and marketplace consultancy Podean has been named as startup agency of the year at The Drum advertising awards.

The gongs were judged by a panel of C-suite industry experts from leading firms and brands including Danielle Bassil of Digitas, Lucy Taylor from MullenLowe, Emma Montgomery from Leo Burnett, and OMD’s Stephen Li.

They evaluated agency nominees based on, “demonstrated innovative thinking to build and develop their business, shareholder value, outstanding client experience, and a talented and engaged team,” according to a statement.

The awards’ startup agency of the year category is dedicated to individual companies that are less than three years old and provide examples of how the new entity has set out to solve a need in the market, has been creative and innovative in terms of strategy, and has managed to cut through and build a profile in a crowded field.

Global chief executive officer, Travis Johnson, accepted the award during the virtual event, and thanked all Podean teams for their “dedication and constant focus on delivering innovation and results.”

Podean founder and CEO, Mark Power, said: “We knew from the start that e-commerce could be a more sophisticated and innovative discipline and that marketplaces must fit into a brand’s broader retail context. This award reinforces that our approach is the right one and one that delivers results for clients.

“I’m especially proud that the work we submitted – and that won – was contributed by our teams all around the world. We know we are not simply raising the bar in the US but also in the Asia-Pacific, Middle East and North Africa, Latin America, and EU regions,” he added.


Economist magazine calls for Georgieva to quit IMF over World Bank data scandal

Economist magazine calls for Georgieva to quit IMF over World Bank data scandal
Updated 23 September 2021

Economist magazine calls for Georgieva to quit IMF over World Bank data scandal

Economist magazine calls for Georgieva to quit IMF over World Bank data scandal
  • "The head of the IMF must hold the ring while two of its biggest shareholders, America and China, confront each other in a new era of geopolitical rivalry," the Economist said
  • Critics of multilateralism are already citing the findings as evidence that international bodies cannot stand up to China

WASHINGTON: The Economist magazine on Thursday called for International Monetary Fund (IMF) Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva to resign over her role in a China-related data-rigging scandal while at the World Bank, saying it has undermined the IMF’s credibility.
The influential London-based publication said in a scathing editorial that an external investigation’s findings that Georgieva pressured staff for changes to the World Bank’s “Doing Business” rankings in 2017 to favor China compromises the IMF’s ability to act as the custodian of data for the world’s macroeconomic statistics.
“The head of the IMF must hold the ring while two of its biggest shareholders, America and China, confront each other in a new era of geopolitical rivalry,” the Economist said, adding that critics of multilateralism are already citing the findings as evidence that international bodies cannot stand up to China.
“The next time the IMF tries to referee a currency dispute, or helps reschedule the debt of a country that has borrowed from China, the fund’s critics are sure to cite this investigation to undermine the institution’s credibility. That is why Ms Georgieva, an esteemed servant of several international institutions, should resign,” the editorial said.
It cited the allegation in the WilmerHale law firm’s report that Georgieva, who at the time was the World Bank’s CEO, thanked a senior bank researcher for “doing his bit for multilateralism” in altering the China data.
“Now she too should do her bit for multilateralism by falling on her sword,” the Economist said.
The World Bank’s “Doing Business” reports, now canceled, ranked countries based on their regulatory and legal environments, ease of business startups, financing, infrastructure and other business climate measures.
Georgieva, a Bulgarian who is a longtime former World Bank economist and European Commission official, has denied the accusations in the WilmerHale report, saying last week they are “not true” and she has never pressured staff to manipulate data.
The IMF’s executive board is conducting its own review of the allegations and has emphasized “the importance it attached to conducting a thorough, objective and timely review.”
An IMF spokesman declined comment on the Economist’s editorial. A US Treasury spokeswoman also declined comment beyond the Treasury’s earlier statement that is analyzing “serious findings” in the WilmerHale report.


Advocacy group slams shooting of Afghan journalist in Kabul

Afghan journalist Mohammad Ali Ahmadi was shot by an unidentified man while he was traveling in a taxi in Kabul last week. (Salam Watandar)
Afghan journalist Mohammad Ali Ahmadi was shot by an unidentified man while he was traveling in a taxi in Kabul last week. (Salam Watandar)
Updated 23 September 2021

Advocacy group slams shooting of Afghan journalist in Kabul

Afghan journalist Mohammad Ali Ahmadi was shot by an unidentified man while he was traveling in a taxi in Kabul last week. (Salam Watandar)
  • Ahmadi, a reporter and editor with the privately-owned national radio broadcaster Salam Watandar, was shot by an unidentified man

LONDON: The Committee to Protect Journalists condemned the shooting and injuring of an Afghan journalist, Mohammad Ali Ahmadi, in the capital Kabul. 

Ahmadi, a reporter and editor with the privately-owned national radio broadcaster Salam Watandar, was shot by an unidentified man while he was traveling in a taxi van on Sept. 18. 

He was asked by a man sat next to him where he worked, and when Ahmadi said he worked for Salam Watandar, the unidentified man said that outlet was an “American radio station,” pulled out a gun, and fired several shots at Ahmadi, two of which struck him in the leg. 

Steven Butler, the Committee to Protect Journalists’ program coordinator for Asia, said on Wednesday:  “The shooting of journalist Mohammad Ali Ahmadi is a test of the Taliban’s commitment to justice: Will they stand by their pledge to allow journalists to do their jobs?

“The Taliban must conduct an immediate and impartial investigation into this attack, hold the perpetrator to account, and ensure that members of the press can work safely. The continued detention of journalist Morteza Samadi by the Taliban is also unconscionable, and must end immediately,” he added. 

Ahmadi was hospitalized, and no suspects have been identified as of yet. 

It remains unclear whether the Taliban was behind the attack. Since the group’s takeover of the country, many journalists have been living in fear for their futures. 

In early September, Taliban fighters raided the homes of two journalists and seized cars, desktop computers and a licensed weapon from one of the houses. 

According to Deutsche Welle, the Taliban also raided the homes of three of its journalists in Afghanistan last week and shot dead a relative of a DW reporter and severely injured another while attempting to track him down.