JEDDAH: Ramadan features many new shows showcasing the work of talented local and Arab actors, but none has proven more iconic and beloved in Saudi Arabia and around the world than “Tash Ma Tash.”
The hit comedy series was a staple in every Saudi household during Ramadan between 1992 and 2011. It had a lasting influence on Saudi television productions and gained worldwide popularity thanks to its insight into the social issues facing the society is facing.
The show ran for 18 seasons and featured Saudi duo Nasser Al-Qasabi and Abdullah Al-Sadhan along with 109 other renowned actors and actresses from the Kingdom, Jordan, Syria, Iraq, Egypt and Lebanon. Several prominent directors from the Arab world participated in its production, including the late Saudi director Abdul Khaleq Al-Ghanim, who directed 13 seasons.
Iconic comedy show stars Nasser Al-Qasabi and Abdullah Al-Sadhan. (Provided)
Thirteen seasons aired on Saudi Arabia’s premier channel Al Saudiya, and the rest on MBC, usually starting around 7:30 p.m. when families were finishing their iftar and anxiously waiting for it to begin.
Ahmed Al-Ash’ari, a 36-year-old Saudi mechanical engineer from Jeddah, said the series represented the most intimate moments with his family. “Once it was showtime, when I was a kid, I would rush to turn on the television.”
The character of Saeedan, the Bedouin teenager who falls in love with the charming Jasmine and strives to reach her is “one of my favorites”, said Al-Ash’ari.
“The series was a lot like ‘Friends’ because it (highlighted) many social issues, including bold, positive, controversial and negative issues, which were associated with generations of Saudi society,” he said. -he declares. The “fun of watching the show” was in the surprising storylines based on real-life issues and acted out by actors quite skillfully, which kept viewers “eager for more”, he said.
In an interview with Arab News, Nawwaf Al-Sadhan, the 32-year-old son of Abdullah Al-Sadhan, said “Tash Ma Tash” was an iconic TV show that has become “part of our routine daily during Ramadan because it highlighted issues related to Saudi society in a comedic format, and I can assure you that it has remained in the minds of Saudi society until today.
Al-Sadhan said his father’s fame did not change the way he perceived him. “He’s so spontaneous in real life too, and I used to watch the show with my family, including my dad, like any normal viewer. I can tell you he has the same personality what you see on TV.
Famous Saudi actor Abdulelah Al-Sinani played a significant role in the series as he starred for 12 seasons. He is credited with raising awareness of theater and acting in the Kingdom.
He told Arab News that “Tash Ma Tash” includes many Saudi artists seeking to gain exposure in the Arab world. The unprecedented success of the series, and because it has lasted so long, has certainly boosted the careers of many. No other series has been so successful, he said.
Al-Sinani said the government’s introduction of Vision 2030 has changed the face of art in the country, with more emphasis on education and training in colleges, not outright reliance with innate talent.
After a glorious 18-year career in television, Al-Qasabi has now launched a drama series “Al-Asouf”, dealing with the former Saudi state and the political, historical and social context. This Ramadan will see him begin his third season.
Al-Sinani, who also stars in ‘Al-Asouf’, said the series was a big hit. He said “Al-Asouf” showed that Saudi viewers have refined their taste and become more selective as consumers. The Kingdom’s television production was “on the brink of (a) renaissance” and focused on all aspects of Saudi society. And “we are confident that we have created a special impact in the international and Arab (world) drama,” Al-Sinani said.
Al-Sinani was discovered by Saudi actor and producer Muhammad Al-Ali, considered one of the founders of drama and theater in Saudi Arabia. The Mohammed Al-Ali Theater, with a capacity of 600 seats, was built on Riyadh Boulevard to honor his career and present his plays.
Al-Ali, who helped Al-Sinani develop his television career, is known for the famous 1985 Saudi drama series “The Return of Aswid”, which also starred Al-Qasabi and Al-Sadhan.