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'Family is everything.’ A seemingly trite statement but one that holds a wealth of meaning as well. And when it is popular Emirati talk show host Anas Bukhash, who posts this statement alongside his close ones on a recent Instagram picture, you know it comes from the heart. After all Anas is a man who seems to walk the talk.
His popular show #ABtalks brim with an intense depth of perception, that is hard to escape, even as his subject matters, however elevated they may be, are all so relatable as to defy the logic of celebrity.
And in the midst of all this, on his personal IG (@anasbukhash) are the images that convey a depth of emotions — gym time with the kids or just chilling with his mother, entrepreneur and life coach Hala Kazim that truly point to the family man behind the public persona.
This Ramadan, Anas has teamed up with his mother Hala on a special five-episode series that premiered on OSN+ on March 24 where the duo welcomes viewers on a quest to find their inner selves, into their homes, and guide them through some of life’s most important subjects.
A Sit Down with Anas and Hala is a conversational journey that seeks to showcase modern day relationships while the mother-son navigate topics including grief, creating boundaries, and making connections. Excerpts from an interview with the duo:
Ramadan Kareem! This Ramadan must be extra special for you as a family because of your new OSN show A Sit Down with Anas and Hala. Tell us how that came about. What do you hope viewers will walk away with after seeing the series.
This Ramadan is truly special for my family and me. The dialogue between us allows us to dive deeper into meaningful topics that benefits us and the audience alike. The project came about because my mother, Hala Kazim, and I share a deep bond and love discussing important topics that can better ourselves and others. Through this series, we invite viewers on a personal journey to find their inner selves and offer a glimpse into our relationship in an intimate setting. We hope viewers will walk away feeling inspired and enlightened, as they have an opportunity to learn more about our perspectives on what we believe are some of life’s most important topics.
Ramadan for many is a time for introspection and slowing down. As such what does this month mean to both of you and how can one connect more with family, friends and ensure it’s not just a temporary connect?
Ramadan is surely a time for introspection and slowing down. For my mother and me, it means taking a moment to reflect on our lives and relationships. We believe in the importance of family, and we always try to make the most of this holy month by connecting more with our loved ones. We also strive to ensure that our connections are not just temporary, but ongoing. By cherishing these moments with our family and friends, we hope to deepen our relationships and make them stronger than ever.
Mother-son relationships are special I believe because mothers are the first window for most men into the world of women and as such mothers have the important task of moulding men’s views on the opposite sex. How do you perceive this?
As a man, I believe that my relationship with my mother is truly special. She has been my first window into the world of women and has played a vital role in shaping my world views on the opposite sex. Her guidance and support have been instrumental in my life, and I cherish our bond deeply. I am grateful for the lessons she has taught me, and continues to teach me.
Hala, you mention ‘My son is my friend.’ And, Anas, we’ve heard you say how you can discuss anything with your mother. Do you believe in the modern world parenting bonds are getting more fluid in that mothers and fathers want to be seen as friends and not be taken as the traditional mother or father figure?
Hala: For me as a mother, Anas is my son first, and friend second. For Anas, I am above all else his mother first, and of course his friend. It’s important to emphasise on this — ensuring nobody is too familiar and there are lines drawn. Anas was first my kid and I raised him as my child first. With time our friendship most certainly flourished.
Anas: My mother and I share a unique bond. We are friends. She still is my mother and I know the boundaries and I make sure to adhere and respect those boundaries. Having said that, it is an 18-year age gap. You can say we grew up together; literally. By being able to discuss anything with my mother, I have learned so much from her and her from me — and we both have become better people for it. I believe that a strong bond between parents and children is essential and can lead to a healthier and happier family dynamic.
Among the topics both of you discuss during the show is one on setting boundaries. But when you both are out there on social media, how do you stop people from crossing boundaries be it through their comments or perceptions on how you are?
Setting boundaries is an essential topic that my mother and I have discussed in one of our episodes during our show. However, as public figures, we also face the challenge of stopping people from crossing boundaries on social media. We stay focused on our message. When one stays true to themselves and their values, they can inspire and connect with others in a much more meaningful way.
Could you share with us your early recollection of Ramadan at home in Dubai, Anas?
What is nostalgic and so familiar that never gets old every Ramadan is the joy of togetherness. Since I was young, we all made the solid effort to be together for every Iftar. It naturally progressed into a series of family moments of having Iftar followed by watching something very comedic on television all together. And we still do this, to this day.
Hala, customs and traditions are inherited. It’s passed down through generations and as such what is your favourite Ramadan memory from the past involving Anas as a child?
The true essence of Ramadan is the Gathering. They’re all there in Ramadan. We try not to miss it. Being together and watching something funny. We laugh. We connect. One subject takes you to another. It’s noisy, vivacious. We long for it.
Anas, you recently invited viewers to win a chance to have Suhoor with you. How do you feel about having a stranger at home!
Inviting viewers to have Suhoor with me was a way to connect with my audience on a personal level. While the idea of having a stranger at home may seem daunting, I believe that sharing a meal can be a powerful way to connect with others and create new friendships. It's about breaking down barriers and opening ourselves up to new experiences and perspectives.
In many ways this is the first Ramadan where there is so much freedom to go out and be around people. Did you both miss that sense of connectivity at the peak of Covid and do you believe it has made us more grateful for physical and emotional connections now?
Anas: The pandemic has been a challenging time for everyone, and I think we all missed that sense of connection with others, especially during Ramadan. While we had to adapt to new ways of connecting virtually, nothing can replace the physical and emotional connections we share with others. As we move forward, I think we'll all have a greater appreciation for those connections and cherish them even more.
Hala: Absolutely, the pandemic has made us all realise the importance of human connection. While we had to adjust to virtual gatherings, it never quite compares to being in the same room with loved ones. Ramadan is such a special time for family and friends to come together, and I think we're all looking forward to being able to do that again safely.
Hala, what’s the one thing you are most proud about Anas, and what’s that one thing you wish you could change?
Above all else I’m proud that my son is a good man, a great man. Decent, fair, loving, gives back — that’s what I’m proud of the most. The titles, the work, the achievements — that’s all secondary. As for something I wish I could change, I think it would be his tendency to take on too much at once. While his drive and passion are admirable, I always worry about him spreading himself too thin.
‘A Sit Down with Anas and Hala' drops weekly on OSN+. Catch the series also on OSN Yahala, every Friday at 7pm UAE and OSN W, every Friday at 8pm UAE
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