... That’s a wrap! First-ever Saudi Comic Con ends with many memorable moments

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Attendees crowd around a Transformer at the Comic Con expo in Jeddah on Saturday. (Arab News photo)
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Attendees reached around 7,000 per day at Comic Con expo in Jeddah. (Reuters)
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(from left) Naif Alkhairallah, author/comic artist of the Black Bonds, Stan Berkowitz, an Emmy award winning writer and Arican Wegter the moderator of the panel discussion on creating Arabic superheroes. (Arab News photo)
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Danish actor Mads Mikkelsen with a copy of Arab News.
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Updated 08 April 2017
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... That’s a wrap! First-ever Saudi Comic Con ends with many memorable moments

JEDDAH: With memorable moments and positive vibes, the curtain came down on the first-ever Saudi Comic Con (SCC).
The three-day convention wrapped up Saturday with 20,000 visitors — nerds, geeks and gamers — sharing their passion for comics through the government-backed SCC in the Red Sea port city under the umbrella of the Saudi General Authority for Entertainment (GAE), which is part and parcel of the Kingdom’s 2030 vision to bring first-class entertainment to Saudi citizens.
“The overwhelming number of people and families who attended, and the memorable moments we have seen captured online, show the potential of bringing popular occasions such as these to our country,” said Amr Al-Madani, CEO of GAE.
“We would like to congratulate the organizers, the staff on the ground and of course everyone attending, all of whom were instrumental in ensuring the event was such an overwhelming success,” he added.

VIDEO: Saudi Comic Con gets enthusiastic response from public

Exhibitors manned 95 booths and 60 artist tables showcasing various comic artworks and books featuring famous superheroes and Japanese animation characters. International exhibitors shared their long experiences in comic cons with Saudi Arabia’s first convention.

“No Lands,” was one of the many international exhibitors that made it to the Kingdom for three days of entertainment.
“Look, I can tell you that we do a lot of Comic Cons; we do the London one, Madrid one, Barcelona, Roma and such, and we have seen a lot of it,” said exhibitor Sergio Azzi from the No Lands booth, who is half-Italian half-Lebanese and was born in Jeddah before his parents left the Kingdom. “And for the first time (in Saudi Arabia) it’s simply amazing, because not only was the organization great, but the crowd was really, really awesome. We didn’t expect it to be so good.”
Apart from the number of attendees, which reached around 7,000 per day, Azzi was surprised by the amount of fantasy fans.
“The people were all so nice,” he said. “I’m sure that the event itself will prompt controversial opinions, but seeing it from the inside, everyone was enjoying themselves. We will sure be here next year.”
Azzi, who was astonished by the number of Saudis speaking fluent English, said that he was not concerned about the means of communication.
“Being an Italian, I can talk with my hands,” he said laughing. “I have to admit that were are quite surprised at the amount English-speaking people, even though given that the young crowds are more and more informed and skilled.”
He added that the other thing that surprised him and his partner at the booth was the large number of Saudi artists, whom they look forward to working with.
“We can’t wait to see more Arabic comics and animations,” he said.


World applauds as Saudi women take the wheel

A Saudi woman and her friends celebrate her first time driving on a main street of Alkhobar city in eastern Saudi Arabia on her way to Bahrain on June 24, 2018. (AFP / HUSSAIN RADWAN)
Updated 25 June 2018
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World applauds as Saudi women take the wheel

  • As the de facto ban on women driving ended after more than 60 years, women across the Kingdom flooded social media with videos of their first car trips
  • The celebrations even reached as far as France, where Aseel Al-Hamad, the first female member of the Saudi national motorsport federation, drove a Formula 1 racing car in a special parade before the French Grand Prix at Le Castellet 

JEDDAH: The world awoke on Sunday to images and video footage many thought they would never see — newly empowered Saudi women taking the wheel and driving their cars.

As the de facto ban on women driving ended after more than 60 years, women across the Kingdom flooded social media with videos of their first car trips, while some police officers among the large number out on the streets distributed roses to the first-time drivers.

The celebrations even reached as far as France, where Aseel Al-Hamad, the first female member of the Saudi national motorsport federation, drove a Formula 1 racing car in a special parade before the French Grand Prix at Le Castellet.

“I hope doing so on the day when women can drive on the roads in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia shows what you can do if you have the passion and the spirit to dream,” she said.

In a tribute to Saudi female drivers, the Lebanese soprano Hiba Tawaji released a special video of a song she performed live in Riyadh at a concert last December “Today women in Saudi Arabia can legally drive their cars,” she said. “Congratulations on this achievement, this one’s for you!”

Back home in Saudi Arabia, the atmosphere was euphoric. “It’s a beautiful day,” businesswoman Samah Algosaibi said as she cruised around the city of Alkhobar. 

“Today we are here,” she said from the driver’s seat. “Yesterday we sat there,” she said, pointing to the back.

“I feel proud, I feel dignified and I feel liberated,” said Saudi Shoura Council member Lina Almaeena, one of the first women to drive in the Kingdom.

She told Arab News that the event was changing her life by “facilitating it, making it more comfortable, making it more pleasant, and making it more stress-free.”

Almaeena urged all drivers to follow the traffic and road safety rules. “What’s making me anxious is the misconduct of a lot of the drivers, the male drivers. Unfortunately they’re not as disciplined as they should be. Simple things such as changing lanes and using your signals — this is making me anxious.

“But I’m confident: I’ve driven all around the world when I travel, especially when I’m familiar with the area. It’s really mainly how to be a defensive driver because you have to be.”