Renowned Saudi director Abdul Khaleq Al Ghanim dies aged 63

Abu Dhabi: Renowned Saudi director Abdul Khaleq Al Ghanim died aged 63 on Tuesday after a struggle with prostate cancer, local media reported.

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Al Ghanim was one of the most prominent Saudi directors who left a creative imprint in Saudi drama, especially the parts he directed from the Ramadan series Tash Ma Tash, (“No Big Deal” in English), a popular satirical comedy that ran for 18 seasons.

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The show followed a sketch comedy format. It aired on the Saudi state-owned television channel Saudi 1 for 13 seasons but in 2005 it was bought by MBC. New episodes ran exclusively during Ramadan right after sunset.

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The show consisted of episodic comedy sketches that presented social commentary on the Saudi society. Every episode had a new story and characters, though popular characters tended to re-appear in new storylines. Most episodes poked fun at the flaws of Saudi society while others showed a tendency for dark comedy and melodrama. The show was one of the pioneers of self-criticism in the Saudi media, with the episodes often dealing with sensitive topics such as social aspects, culture, terrorism, marital relations, and religion.

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The show satirised regional social, cultural, and legal state found within Saudi Arabia.

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Turki Al Sheikh, head of the Entertainment Authority, mourned the death of Al Ghanim with a tweet in which he said: “May God have mercy on the Saudi director Abdul Khaleq Al Ghanim … my condolences to his family.”

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Artist Nasser Al Qasabi wrote: “I was shocked by the painful news of the death of our dear friend, director Abdul Khaleq Al Ghanim, after suffering from a long illness.”

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Actor Abdullah Al Sadhan also wrote: “Perhaps what befell him were purification and elevation in his ranks, and our condolences to his family.”

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Likewise, novelist Yusef Al Muhaimid wrote: “Abd Al Khaleq Al Ghanim was one of the most important symbols of local and Gulf television drama.”

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Al Ghanim graduated from the Institute of Fine Arts in Baghdad, and began his artistic career in 1992, where he accomplished several works, most notably the series “Tash Ma Tash”, which he began working on in 1995 and continued with him until the 15th part. His other list of works included the series “A Hunting Trip”, “Waiting”, , “The Madness of Money” and “Our Sweet Haratuna”.

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