First Saudi manga artist highlights Arab culture through its proverbs

Netflix selected Samah Kamel to do a workshop that introduced manga art and techniques at Jeddah’s Comic Con 2018.
Updated 21 May 2018
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First Saudi manga artist highlights Arab culture through its proverbs

  • Kamel's research addresses the ability to use manga art to represent the Kingdom’s culture through its proverbs
  • Kamel’s interest in art started in her early years when her mother was an art teacher

JEDDAH: Samah Kamel, a Saudi freelance mangaka (manga artist), earned her master’s degree from the College of Art and Design at King Abdul Aziz University. She is the first Saudi to do her graduation research on manga (Japanese comics). 

Her research addresses the ability to use manga art to represent the Kingdom’s culture through its proverbs. 

The research aimed to define manga art, traditional Saudi proverbs, and how to benefit from manga art to develop contemporary paintings.

Kamel’s interest in art started in her early years when her mother was an art teacher. By watching dubbed animation, Kamel’s interest grew further. 

“The animations and manga productions of the 1990s and 2000s were the starting point for me to do more research on this art and develop my own skills,” she said.

“Manga is directed at all people from different ages and interests with different themes, including romance, action adventure, science fiction, comedy, sports and adult subject matter.”

The idea behind her master’s research was to explore the possibility of using manga as a technique to present known Saudi proverbs, and to introduce manga as an art and tool that can be used to reflect Saudi identity and promote the Kingdom’s culture. 

The research resulted in her first manga book “Hikayat Mathal” (“Tale of Proverb”), published in Arabic and English. The book used manga art to represent Hijazi proverbs visually.

Recognition of manga as an art is increasing among the Kingdom’s young population, and Kamel’s research confirms its recognition at the academic level. 

“Today, we have different channels to start producing manga and animation, such as Manga Productions (an affiliated company of the Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdul Aziz Foundation) and other startups specialized in comics and manga productions,” she said. 

Her published book opened doors for her to discover the public’s interest in manga, and enabled her to meet with talented local artists. 

Netflix selected her to do a workshop that introduced manga art and techniques at Jeddah’s Comic Con 2018.

“Although manga art is increasingly recognized in Saudi Arabia, we lack Arabic resources and books that explain manga art and its history,” Kamel said. 

She is planning to publish her research as a book that discusses manga and its historical developments and techniques.


Hodeidah offensive: Coalition forces seize weapons supplied by Iran to Houthis

Updated 20 June 2018
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Hodeidah offensive: Coalition forces seize weapons supplied by Iran to Houthis

  • The arsenal included drones, a sniper rifle, roadside bombs disguised as rocks and even a “drone boat” which had been filled with explosives that failed to detonate.
  • Equipment used to produce and load fuel for rockets that target Saudi Arabia contained Iranian labels.

JEDDAH: Saudi-led coalition officials on Tuesday displayed weapons and explosives supplied by Iran to Houthi militias in the Yemeni port city of Hodeidah. 

The arsenal included drones, a sniper rifle, roadside bombs disguised as rocks and even a “drone boat” which had been filled with explosives that failed to detonate.

Equipment used to produce and load fuel for rockets that target Saudi Arabia contained Iranian labels. The weapons were captured on the battlefield in Hodeidah and displayed at a military base in the UAE. 

“Unsurprisingly, there are advanced military components in the Houthi militias’ hands,” said Talal Al-Teneiji, an official at the UAE Foreign Ministry.

“We took time to inspect and disassemble these to figure out the source ... and we can say that these elements are military-grade materials imported from Iran to the Houthi militias.”

As the week-long offensive in Hodeidah intensified on Tuesday, coalition forces consolidated their grip on the city’s airport and there was new fighting on the main coast road leading to the city center, with Apache helicopters providing air support to the coalition. 

“We can hear the sounds of artillery, mortars and sporadic machinegun fire. The Houthis have been using tanks,” one civilian on the coastal strip said. 

“Water has been cut off to many of the areas near the corniche area because the Houthis have dug trenches and closed water pipes.”

At the airport, which the coalition has controlled since Saturday, their forces stormed the main compound and took full command.

UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash said: “We are waiting for the Houthis to realize the sort of military and psychological blow that they got with the airport ... we are giving them time to decide if they want to save the city ... and pull out.”

Oubai Shahbandar, a strategic communications adviser, told Arab News that “without the sea and airport of Hodeidah, the Houthi militia has effectively lost the war.”

They should agree to UN-hosted peace talks and not prolong the fighting. “The tide in this conflict has clearly turned in favor of the Arab coalition and the welfare of the Yemeni people ought to be paramount,” he said.