Haku: The dream of a Saudi brand with a Japanese twist

The main four hand-drawn characters by Njood Alkharboush, the founder of Haku. (Supplied)
Updated 02 September 2018
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Haku: The dream of a Saudi brand with a Japanese twist

  • Njood Alkharboush, a Saudi graphic designer, has created a Saudi brand called Haku, which has a Japanese twist
  • Haku was launched in early 2018

JEDDAH: A large segment of Saudi youth and teenagers are so fascinated with the Japanese cartoon films and series known as manga (Japanese comics) and anime (animation) that they are eager to buy models and stickers of related popular characters. 

The fantasy world of manga and anime is aimed at children, teenagers and young adults, but the themes can become a little dark.

A Saudi graphic designer, Njood Alkharboush, has created a Saudi brand called Haku which has a Japanese twist. 

Alkharboush brought her dream to reality when she designed anime characters with a Khalijee twist inspired by her passion for Japanese anime. 

Haku is basically a Saudi brand and an online shop that provides products symbolized in a mixture of Saudi and Japanese culture, offering 12 products including stickers, pins and card games. 

“The products imitates the Japanese Manga designed in a Saudi concept in terms of the characters and items,” Alkharboush said. 

She has designed a new Poker concept known as “Kotchina” in Arabic by recreating the four characters of the original Poker card game through turning them into a Khaliji anime and changing the outfit into traditional Khaligie clothes (Thobe). 

“Each character is available as a sticker and a pin.” 

Alkharboush also has her very exclusive collection of pins, including an Arabic coffee cup held by the skeleton of a human hand, a female police car and a “Saudi skull,” a new character of the skull of a man with a long beard and Ghutra.

Haku was launched in early 2018, The project depends on designs that are hand-drawn, using the popular trend related to Saudi-Khaliji culture. 

 

Real business

The name of the project refers to a fictional character in the well-known Japanese movie “Spirited Away,” directed by Hayao Miyazaki. Released in 2001, it reportedly made the highest revenue in Japan’s film history and surpassed the most popular

American movie of the time, “Titanic.” 

Alkharboush told Arab News: “Haku is my favorite anime character of Miyazaki.

“I started to think seriously of turning my senior project into a real business after I saw the way people were attracted to it and the amount of appreciation and admiration generated. 

“Our first clothing line will be launched in early 2019 and our current products are also available in Concept stores in Jeddah, Riyadh. Soon they will be available in Bahrain and Dubai.” 

The business aims to bring happiness to people who find joy in little things, inspired by cute Japanese anime and cartoons migrated into Khaleeji culture, said Alkharboush.

“I want all these characters to pop up in people’s way wherever they go with real knowledge of who they are, to reflect the Saudi culture, as the Japanese anime have become an integral part of modern Japanese life and culture.” 

Alkharboush encourages all small businesses to believe in themselves, value their ideas and trust in what they are doing, never hesitating to bring their dream to reality. 

Such startups would emphasize the importance of the younger generation’s creativity to be spread and help to widen the horizons of the Saudi and Khaleeji culture.

A Saudi company called Manga Productions focuses on producing animations and developing video games with creative and positive content, targeting all local and international groups of society. 

Manga Productions seeks to launch several animation and video game projects to promote Saudi ideas and messages internationally. 

 

 

Decoder

What's an anime?

Anime refers specifically to animation from Japan or as a Japanese-disseminated animation style often characterized by colorful graphics, vibrant characters and fantastical themes. Poker: Poker is a family of card games that combines gambling, strategy, and skill. Ghutra: A traditional Middle Eastern headdress fashioned from a square scarf, usually made of cotton. Arabic coffee cup: Typically made of glazed white ceramic, it is usually plain or decorated with colors, but does not have a handle.


Ivory Coast looks to solar vehicles to replace bush taxis

Updated 23 September 2018
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Ivory Coast looks to solar vehicles to replace bush taxis

  • A switch to solar and durables may appear paradoxical in Jacqueville, however, as the area produces the lion’s share of the country’s gas and oil
  • Ivory Coast is targeting an 11-percent share of national consumption for renewables by 2020

JACQUEVILLE, Ivory Coast: Hi-tech, cheap — and quiet. The Ivorian resort of Jacqueville just outside Abidjan is betting on solar-powered three-wheelers as it looks to replace traditional but noisy and dirty bush taxis.
“It’s cheaper and relaxing!” says local trader Sandrine Tetelo, of the Chinese-made “Saloni” or “Antara” tricycles, which could eventually spell the end for old-school “woro-woro” four-wheelers as Jacqueville looks to make itself Ivory Coast’s premier eco city.
The mini-cars, 2.7 meters (8.8 feet) long and two meters high, are covered in solar panels each fitted out with six 12-volt batteries, giving the vehicles a range of 140 kilometers (87 miles).
Returning from a visit to China, the solar cars’ promotor Marc Togbe pitched his plan to mayor Joachim Beugre, who was immediately sold.
“We are used to seeing (typically old and beaten up) bush taxis pollute the atmosphere and the environment. We said to ourselves, if we could only replace them by solar trikes,” said Beugre.
“The adventure started in January with two little cars,” added Togbe, who has created a partnership with local businessman Balla Konate.
“I went to China with a friend,” says Konate, “and afterwards I sent four youngsters to Lome for training with a friend who had spoken to me about the project.”
He wants to extend operations to Odienne and Korhogo, towns in the north, the country’s sunniest region.
“Today, a dozen cars are up and running. We are right in the test phase. More and more people are asking for them,” says Beugre, seeing a chance to kill several birds with one solar stone.
Long isolated, his town, nestled between a laguna and the sea, has flourished in terms of real estate and tourism since the 2015 inauguration of a bridge linking Jacqueville to the mainland and cutting transit time to Abidjan to less than an hour.
For the start of the school year in October, Jacqueville plans to bring on stream a 22-seater “solar coach” designed to help deal with “the thorny issue of pupils’ transport.”
Many schoolchildren typically have to travel tens of kilometers from their home village to urban schools.
So far, the trikes have also provided work for around 20 people including drivers and mechanics.
“We’re on the go from six in the morning and finish around 10 or even midnight, weekends too,” says Philippe Aka Koffi, a 24-year-old who has been working as a driver for five months.
“It’s pleasant for doing your shopping more quickly,” says an impressed passenger, Aholia Guy Landry, after riding in a vehicle which can carry four people, driver included.
A big plus is the 100 CFA francs (0.15 euros/$0.18) price of a trip — half a typical downtown “woro-woro” fare — helping to attract between 500 and 1,000 people a day, according to the town hall and promoter.
A switch to solar and durables may appear paradoxical in Jacqueville, however, as the area produces the lion’s share of the country’s gas and oil.
The wells outside the town produce 235 million cubic feet of gas per day, while several foreign firms run pipelines taking oil and gas across the town to feed the refineries at Abidjan.
But the municipality — total budget 140 million CFA francs — sees none of the profits, an issue which has drawn public ire in the past.
The 50-million-CFA trike project is just one piece in a much larger jigsaw which includes the construction of a new eco city on a 240-hectare site among coconut trees.
“It will not be a city for the rich,” insists Beugre, showing off a blueprint replete with cycle paths and a university.
“All social strata who respect the environment will be able to live there,” he adds.
Yet at national level, such plans are conspicuous by their absence.
Ivory Coast, west African leader in electricity production — 75 percent of which comes from thermal energy and the remainder from hydroelectric dams — is targeting an 11-percent share of national consumption for renewables by 2020.
Even though by September the country had burned through barely one single megawatt of solar energy for this year, Beugre is undaunted.
“Our ecological project will go all the way” and “stand up to the power of oil and gas,” says the cowboy-hatted local politician.
“In years to come, we want to ensure that these solar-power machines become the main means of travel in the area.”