'His work opened doors for Emirati talent': Director Nayla Al Khaja on late actor Majid Al Falasi

His legacy continues to inspire young actors and entertainers in the UAE, says the Emirati director and producer

Photo: Sarah Fahmy/Twitter
Photo: Sarah Fahmy/Twitter

Somya Mehta

Published: Tue 9 May 2023, 11:10 AM

Last updated: Tue 9 May 2023, 4:26 PM

Renowned Emirati actor, Majid Al Falasi, who made significant contributions to the entertainment industry in the UAE, passed away on Sunday, May 7. The actor was widely known for his memorable performance in the Emirati animated series Freej, where he played the role of ‘Um Saeed’.

The news of his sudden passing away, at the age of 40, sent shockwaves amongst his fans in the Middle East, as tributes poured in to honour the legacy of the late actor.

“He was widely known for his outstanding performances in the animated series Freej, which premiered in 2006 and quickly became a cultural phenomenon in the region,” said Nayla Al Khaja, the first female film writer, director and producer in the UAE.

“The show, which depicted the lives of four elderly Emirati women, resonated with audiences across generations and was praised for its authentic representation of Emirati culture and values,” Nayla told Khaleej Times.

Emirati director Nayla Al Khaja
Emirati director Nayla Al Khaja

“Al Falasi played the character of ‘Um Saeed’, one of the women in the series, and his portrayal added a touch of humour and warmth to the show. He continued to voice the character throughout the show's four seasons and became a beloved figure among fans of Freej,” said Nayla.

“His legacy continues to inspire aspiring actors and entertainers in the region to pursue their passion and to represent Emirati culture on a global scale. He will be missed,” she added.

Legacy of Freej in Emirati culture

Created by Mohammed Saeed Harib, the CGI television series that piloted back in 2006, explored the lives of four elderly Emirati women navigating life in Dubai. The show's title 'Freej' refers to 'neighbourhood' in Emirati Arabic.

Al Falasi’s portrayal of ‘Um Saeed’ has left a momentous impact on Emirati culture, promoting cultural traditions and values, said Nayla. “His contributions have helped provide a platform for Emirati artists and performers,” said Nayla.

“The show is deeply rooted in Emirati culture, and it depicts Emirati customs and traditions in a positive and respectful manner. This has helped to preserve and promote Emirati culture, particularly among younger generations who may not have had as much exposure to traditional Emirati ways of life," she continued.

The director also spotlighted how the popularity of Freej helped raise the profile of Emirati culture and entertainment on the international stage. “The show featured many Emirati actors and voice actors, as well as Emirati musicians and artists who have contributed to the show's music and visual design. This has helped to support and promote Emirati talent, both within the UAE and internationally,” said Nayla.

“The show has been broadcast in many countries around the world, including in the United States and Europe, and it has won several international awards. This has helped to promote a positive image of Emirati culture and has helped to raise awareness of the UAE's rich cultural heritage,” said the Emirati director.

“Through the show and beyond, Al Falasi's contribution to the entertainment industry in the UAE will always be remembered,” she added. “Rest in peace, Majid Al Falasi.”

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