Arab anime hero gives more animated view of Saudi culture

Updated 12 November 2016

Arab anime hero gives more animated view of Saudi culture

JEDDAH: The desert plains of Saudi Arabia and the colorful, all-action "anime" pop culture of Japan seem like they are worlds apart.
But that’s not the case with Desert Knight — the star of a new, wildly popular video trailer that manages to fuse these two seemingly disparate cultures.
The character was devised by a Jeddah-based media company, along with its Japanese partner, with the aim of both entertaining global audiences and giving a broader insight into the Arab world.
The three-minute trailer — set in ancient times in the Arabian desert — gives a brief introduction into "Desert Knight", telling the tale of a boy whose town is ransacked by bandits and his family killed.
Filmed in the Japanese anime style, the film shows how the boy steps up to challenge the tyranny of the bandits – promoting qualities of peace, teamwork and family.
The trailer was made by the Jeddah-based ARINAT — part of the Saudi Research and Marketing Group (SRMG), which also publishes Arab News — along with Japan-based GAINAX studio.
News of the Desert Knight promo has been carried in more than 100 news outlets in 14 countries, including the US, Japan and China. The YouTube video has received 80,000 views, with 300,000 visitors to the Facebook page, ARINAT says.
This is all good news given one of the wider aims of the Desert Knight promo, the media company says.
“I believe animation is a great tool to introduce Saudi Arabia to the world, and to the global audiences,” Essam Bukhary, executive manager of ARINAT, told Arab News.
Bukhary was speaking from ARINAT's office in Jeddah, where a team of artists was busy at work on its animated productions. The media company specializes in animation, video games and comics, and is also working on 3D-style productions similar in style to those made by Disney or Pixar.
The Desert Knight video is subtitled in Japanese — a language in which Bukhary is fluent thanks to his 19 years spent in the East Asian country, most recently as Saudi Cultural Attaché to Japan.
Given that, Bukhary is already well versed in bridging the Saudi and Japanese cultures — something he is continuing with Desert Knight.
“What we are trying to do is to deliver a new message about Saudi Arabia to the world, to global audiences, in innovative ways,” he said.
“We hope that we will not only transmit knowledge of animations and video games from Japan to Saudi Arabia but also deliver something new from Saudi Arabia to the world.”
Bukhary said there is strong demand for Japanese-style animation in the Arab world. Popular characters from Japanese series like Grendizer and Captain Tsubasa are already popular in the region, he said.
“There is a big need for Arab animation in the region — there is a market there,” Bukhary said. “They love Japan because of those heroes, who came from the animation.
“What we are trying to do is to create Saudi heroes, to create Arab heroes that might be (good) for children, for young generations, to learn from them how to be honest… how to serve your country, your community.”
Amr Almaddah, the chief operating officer at ARINAT, said that the project aims to help change perceptions of Saudi Arabia internationally.
“One of the misconceptions in the world is that… they only have one image about Saudi Arabia, (that the people here have only) one way of dressing,” said Almaddah.
“So the main idea of our project is that we can visualize Saudis in different environments, in different settings… So people will be able to understand Saudis better, can sympathize with their causes and ideas more.”
Decisions over the future of the Desert Knight — and whether it may eventually become a movie or TV series — are yet to be made, and depend partly on the audience reaction to the trailer.
But Bukhary said ARINAT's Japanese partners are “are keen to do it”, and that it has attracted offers from Japanese investment firms.
If the project is carried forward it would, of course, be a continuation of the rich history of storytelling from the region.
“Remember that the Arab world is the origin of the Arabian Nights,” Bukhary said. “So why don’t we do it again?”

Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry inaugurates Arab News Pakistan bureau

Updated 16 February 2019

Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry inaugurates Arab News Pakistan bureau

  • New office will be hub for Asian operation of paper and builds on relationship with community and its digital generation
  • Arab News launched its online Pakistan edition in February last year as part of its global digital expansion plans

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Minister of Information and Broadcasting Fawad Chaudhry has officially inaugurated Arab News Pakistan bureau in the country’s capital.

Chaudhry was the chief guest at the occasion and several prominent Pakistani media personalities and Arab News staff also attended the launch ceremony.

Standing side by side with Arab News Editor-in-Chief Faisal J. Abbas, who is in Pakistan as part of the media delegation accompanying the royal visit by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, and Arab News Asia Bureau Chief Baker Atyani, Chaudhry cut a ceremonial ribbon to open the office.

“I am very happy for two reasons: The perception was building that the newspapers were not coming (to Pakistan), so once an international publication like Arab News (has come here) it certainly gives us a huge boost.”

Chaudhry described how the relationship between the nations was becoming stronger, particularly with the growth of Pakistan’s voice in the Middle East.

‘Secondly, I think this is an era where Pakistan is playing a very important role in the Middle East and to have such a major Middle Eastern publication coming to Pakistan itself shows the kind of importance Pakistan has of the Middle East and vice versa, we are very happy to have you here.’

Editor-in-Chief Faisal J. Abbas thanked the Pakistani information minister for his presence at the inauguration and for the efforts of the Information and Broadcasting Ministry to help facilitate the newspaper’s operations in Islamabad. 

“The inauguration of our Islamabad bureau a year after the launch of our local digital edition is an indicator of our commitment to Pakistan and our determination to help create a better understanding of Saudi Arabia and the region,” said Abbas. 

“Ever since its establishment in 1975, Arab News has had a special relationship with the massive and incredibly loyal Pakistani community in Saudi Arabia. Today we inaugurate this bureau in Islamabad to ensure a continued connection with the community and establish a relationship with a new more digital and highly connected generation,” he added. 

Asia Bureau Chief Baker Atyani said that the new office would be a hub not only for the Arab News Pakistan edition but also for the entire Asian operation of the paper. “We currently have reporters across Pakistan as well as nine other Asian countries and with the help, hard work and dedication of our team at the Islamabad bureau we hope not only to better manage our operation but to grow further in Asia as well.” 

Arab News launched its online Pakistan edition in February last year as part of its global digital expansion plans. The project is the first of many new international editions planned by the Riyadh-based newspaper. 

Arab News is part of the regional publishing giant Saudi Research and Marketing Group (SRMG).