One of Saudi Arabia’s finest comedy directors has died.
Abdul Khaleq Al-Ghanim, the creator of popular satirical sketch show Tash ma Tash, died on Tuesday after battling prostate cancer. He was 63.
Tributes have since flooded social media, with many thanking Al-Ghanim for bringing them joy through his work.
Saudi comedian Nasser Al Qasabi, who was one of the lead actors in Tash ma Tash and became a regional household name thanks to the show, said he was shocked "by the painful news of the death of our dear friend ... after suffering from a long illness".
His co-star Abdullah Al-Sadhan posted a prayer on his Twitter account in honour of the director.
"He was one of the greatest," Twitter user Non wrote. "How he made us happy for years through Tash ma Tash. The truth is the star was behind the curtains. He made us happy and he made everyone around him happy."
Al-Ghanim's wife, Lauren Al-Issa, told Al Arabiya in April that the director's battle with cancer began as early as 2016, soon after the release of his show Shad Balad.
His condition stabilised, but the disease returned in 2017 as he was preparing for the show Snap Shaf.
"His condition worsened six months ago," Al-Issa, also a director, told Al Arabiya. "The cancer moved from the prostate to the lymph nodes. It then moved to his bones and his condition was stable but doctors imposed chemotherapy on him. But the chemotherapy that was given to him intravenously ... affected him. He could not eat, and he was constantly vomiting. It affected his health and caused him to lose 20 kilograms."
A graduate of the Institute of Fine Arts in Baghdad, Al-Ghanim began his artistic career in 1992. One of his earliest directorial efforts was the show A Hunting Trip. He went on to helm a handful of other shows before creating Tash ma Tash in 1995.
Its social commentary made the series an immediate hit with the kingdom's audience. Tash ma Tash was shown on the state-owned Saudi 1 television channel for 13 seasons and was picked up by MBC in 2005, which helped bring the series wider regional acclaim.
Tash ma Tash continued for a total of 18 seasons, leaving a lasting imprint on regional sketch-based comedy.