‘I am not Latifa’: Meet the first female Saudi superhero

‘I am not Latifa’: Meet the first female Saudi superhero
1 / 5
‘I am not Latifa’: Meet the first female Saudi superhero
2 / 5
‘I am not Latifa’: Meet the first female Saudi superhero
3 / 5
Fahad Al-Saud, CEO of Na3am and creative director of Latifa.
‘I am not Latifa’: Meet the first female Saudi superhero
4 / 5
Stan Berkowitz, co-writer of Latifa, at Na3am’s booth at Saudi Comic Con. (AN photo by Lulwa Shalhoub)
‘I am not Latifa’: Meet the first female Saudi superhero
5 / 5
Updated 08 April 2017

‘I am not Latifa’: Meet the first female Saudi superhero

‘I am not Latifa’: Meet the first female Saudi superhero

Her name is Latifa (meaning “kind” in Arabic), yet she is ruthless and vindictive, living in a revolting future world.
Latifa, Saudi Arabia’s first female comic superhero, and her dystopian universe are the brainchild of Fahad Al-Saud, CEO and creative director of award-winning gaming and transmedia incubator Na3am (New Arab Media).
“Latifa was born, and it just kind of developed from there. I’m seeing her come to life now. I feel like my child has just graduated from high school,” Al-Saud, who co-writes the comic book with Stan Berkowitz, told Arab News.
“She accepted herself as a warrior and she’s committed, so I wanted her to talk to people who feel there’s a war beside them and are scared to come out.”
Latifa was introduced to audiences at the recent Saudi Comic Con in Jeddah, at which the turnout exceeded expectations.
“The fusion of Marvel and Na3am next to each other (means) you’ve got the outside example and the local example, so it’s a historic moment not just for Saudi and for Comic Con being here, but also for Saudi to receive and welcome its first superhero,” Rozan Ahmed, the editor of Latifa, told Arab News.
Al-Saud said the world of comics accompanied him from his childhood to his adulthood, and he decided to turn his passion into a profession. His favorite superheroes are the X Men, Psylocke and Storm.
The Stanford University graduate majored in mechanical engineering and studied management science, humanities and art history, which set a strong foundation for him. He said it taught him problem-solving skills and made him view the world differently.
“I grew up reading comic books. I learned English from reading comic books,” he said. “In every single comic book or video game with a female character, she has been my favorite. I think that whole experience just turned my hobby into my profession.”
Latifa, with her talking sword, is the first comic from the Saudi Girls Revolution (SGR) universe.
She is illiterate, always questioning her surroundings, and is on a mission to help those who are struggling around her. The concept of justice is strongly highlighted in her story.
Al-Saud said it was important for him to make stories about women that are not centered on a man, but he also wanted to keep a balance.
The sword Al-Faisal is robotic with male energy, and is a metaphor for her father, whom she lost as a child.
“The narrative is essentially about one big prison break. Latifa isn’t in the prison. There are other characters outside the prison who will get to know the people breaking out of the prison,” Berkowitz told Arab News.
“There seems to be an effort in the camp to change women. The women are only brought there if they’re rebellious. They’re delinquent, trouble-makers, free-thinkers and the plan is to make them docile citizens,” said Berkowitz, who also wrote for the “Justice League,” “Batman Beyond” and “Superman.”
For Al-Saud, the prison in the story can be seen from the readers’ perspective as limitations in the community or environment, limitations we impose on ourselves, or our fears. “This is a piece of art, and I’d love for people to interpret it in their way,” he said.
Al-Saud’s use of the word “revolutions” was his way of reclaiming this “buzzword” and giving it a different meaning.
He said the word has been charged with so much negativity, and he wanted to go back to what it actually meant.
It can be “changing something, evolving it into something better and challenging the status quo, but of course not for the sake of pushing back, for the sake of moving forward,” he said.
“The concept of revolution here is: Each girl in her own personal growth is going through a revolution. It’s a spiritual one, an identity one, a political one, a societal one, depending on that girl’s story.”
He added: “The revolution I wanted to start is having us reclaim our own identity, giving an opportunity for Arab women, and Saudi women specifically, who globally have been put into a box of oppression and regression.
“I wanted to change the narrative and rhetoric around women in comics, but also have the ones who are pioneers of change, stories of Saudi women who globally, for the last decade or so, have been seen as oppressed. I wanted to challenge that, so that’s what this revolution is about.”
Latifa’s world is 100 years in the post-apocalyptic future. About five years ago, when the project started, Al-Saud wondered what the world would look like in the future.
“The best way to see something is to imagine it in the future, to push us to an environment that’s completely different but also still similar,” he said.
“The work I’m doing with SGR is a way to creatively solve problems that I feel exist in our world today.”
The project is the result of a collaborative team effort. “The first thing I did was to collaborate with Stan,” Al-Saud said.
“There are people who are more skilled than me. It’s important for this project to reach the quality I intend, to release the ego and bring in experts and collaborate with them throughout the process, which is working out so far.”
The intention is to create something Saudis, Saudi females and global audiences are proud of. “I’m hoping to present audiences with so many options rather than just Latifa (in the future),” he added.
Saudi Comic Con also saw the newly launched Bedouin Blade game mobile phone app. “It’s Latifa’s first video game, and we’re also looking at a feature film,” said Ahmed.


Iranian TV slammed for interrupting football to prevent fans seeing female referee’s legs

Each time Sian Massey-Ellis appeared on the screen, the broadcaster cut away to landscape shots of the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium and the streets around the ground. (Daily Mail/Screenshot)
Each time Sian Massey-Ellis appeared on the screen, the broadcaster cut away to landscape shots of the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium and the streets around the ground. (Daily Mail/Screeshot)
Updated 14 April 2021

Iranian TV slammed for interrupting football to prevent fans seeing female referee’s legs

Each time Sian Massey-Ellis appeared on the screen, the broadcaster cut away to landscape shots of the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium and the streets around the ground. (Daily Mail/Screenshot)
  • Each time Sian Massey-Ellis appeared on screen, the broadcaster cut away
  • Iranian women’s rights group: ‘Censorship is in the DNA of the Islamic Republic’

LONDON: Football fans in Iran had to endure state TV cutting away from its broadcast of Tottenham Hotspur’s Premier League match against Manchester United on Sunday to avoid showing the legs of assistant referee Sian Massey-Ellis.

Each time Massey-Ellis appeared on the screen, the broadcaster cut away to landscape shots of the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium and the streets around the ground.

According to Iranian women’s civil rights group My Stealthy Freedom, the decision was to prevent viewers seeing her bare legs.

“The television censors were rattled by the presence of a female referee in shorts,” the group said in a statement.

“Their solution was to cut away from the action to views of London’s backstreets, which made a mockery of the game. At the end of the game, one of the commentators joked that he hoped the viewers enjoyed the geographic show,” it added.

“Censorship is in the DNA of the Islamic Republic of Iran. We should not normalise this practice. This is not our culture. This is the ideology of a repressive regime.”

In 2018, an Iranian state TV channel blurred out AS Roma’s badge during coverage of their Champions League quarterfinal with Barcelona due to it containing an image of a female wolf feeding the mythical founders of the city, Romulus and Remus.


Queen returns to royal duties after death of Prince Philip

Queen returns to royal duties after death of Prince Philip
Updated 14 April 2021

Queen returns to royal duties after death of Prince Philip

Queen returns to royal duties after death of Prince Philip
  • Prince Philip died at the age of 99
  • The royal family is observing two weeks of mourning

LONDON: Queen Elizabeth II has returned to royal duties, four days after the death of her husband, Prince Philip.

The 94-year-old British monarch attended a retirement ceremony for a senior royal official on Tuesday, according to the Court Circular, the official record of royal engagements.

The royal family is observing two weeks of mourning for Philip, who died Friday at the age of 99. The palace has said members of the royal family will “undertake engagements appropriate to the circumstances” during the mourning period.

The queen attended a ceremony at Windsor Castle for Lord Chamberlain Earl Peel, who has retired as the royal household’s most senior official. He oversaw arrangements for the funeral of Prince Philip, also known as the Duke of Edinburgh, until handing over to his successor days before the duke’s death.

Philip’s funeral will take place Saturday at Windsor Castle, with attendance limited to 30 because of coronavirus restrictions.

Servicemen and women from the Royal Navy, Royal Marines, Army and Royal Air Force will take part in the funeral procession, and Philip’s coffin will be borne to St. George’s Chapel at the castle on a specially adapted Land Rover, which he designed himself.


LEGO’s heart-warming Ramadan greeting goes wrong as toymaker mistakes holy month for Eid

LEGO’s heart-warming Ramadan greeting goes wrong as toymaker mistakes holy month for Eid
Updated 14 April 2021

LEGO’s heart-warming Ramadan greeting goes wrong as toymaker mistakes holy month for Eid

LEGO’s heart-warming Ramadan greeting goes wrong as toymaker mistakes holy month for Eid
  • Despite the fact that Ramadan has been observed each year for more than 14 centuries, a few companies are still mistaking the holy month of Ramadan for Eid Al-Fitr
  • The picture attached with the LEGO congratulatory Ramadan tweet displayed a text showing “Eid Mubarak” instead of Ramadan Kareem

LONDON: Every year just before Ramadan begins, congratulations and greetings are widely circulated to family, friends, employees and the general public to celebrate the commencement of the holy month. 

Some businesses make use of this celebratory period by sending out Ramadan greetings while simultaneously marketing their products. Yet, despite the fact that Ramadan has been observed each year for more than 14 centuries, a few companies are still mistaking the holy month of Ramadan for Eid Al-Fitr, the celebration that marks the end of Ramadan.

 

 

Indeed, on the first day of Ramadan this year, the toy company, LEGO, tweeted what is likely intended to be a Ramadan greeting that reads: “Make it a celebration to remember with a LEGO set and open the door to quality family time spent together.” 

So far so good, right? Well not necessarily, because the picture attached with the tweet displayed a text showing “Eid Mubarak” instead of Ramadan Kareem, or any other traditional Ramadan greeting. 

Although people were not hugely disturbed by the mistake, most comments on the greeting acknowledged the effort from the part of LEGO, but highlighted that Eid is not due for another 30 days. 


‘Not during Ramadan!’ Fans disappointed as K-Pop’s BTS announce virtual concert during Holy month

“Bang Bang Con 2021” is the South Korean band’s third online concert since the COVID-19 pandemic hit. (AFP)
“Bang Bang Con 2021” is the South Korean band’s third online concert since the COVID-19 pandemic hit. (AFP)
Updated 13 April 2021

‘Not during Ramadan!’ Fans disappointed as K-Pop’s BTS announce virtual concert during Holy month

“Bang Bang Con 2021” is the South Korean band’s third online concert since the COVID-19 pandemic hit. (AFP)

DUBAI: K-Pop boy band BTS has announced that they are set to perform an online concert event on April 17. 

However, some fans are not quite happy with the timing of the concert, titled “Bang Bang Con 2021,” that happens to be during Ramadan. 

Instagram users quickly took to the platform to comment on the South Korean band’s post saying: “Please don’t make it in the time of RAMADAN because Muslim armies can’t watch it (sic).”  

 

“Not during Ramadan,” wrote one fan, while another said: “We as Muslims have to fast in the month of Ramadan, sorry I can’t follow, later.” 

However, not all fans were left disappointed. Some took to social media to express their delight.

“I change my dentist appointment. The power of BTS in my life. April 17 block off in my calendar (sic),” said one user on Twitter. 

Another fan tweeted: “April 17 ARMYS - aren't we all so lucky to have @BTS_twt?”

This event is the South Korean band’s third online concert since the COVID-19 pandemic hit. 

“Bang Bang Con 2021” will be streamed on BTS’s YouTube channel.    

In April 2020, the seven-member band presented a two-day streaming event that featured an online performance and clips from fan meetings.

Two months later, in June, the group held their first paid online gig “Bang Bang Con: The Live,” which attracted more than 756,000 fans from over 100 countries. They achieved a new Guinness World Record title for the most viewers for a music concert live stream due to that event.


Restaurants in Dubai not required to screen off dining areas during Ramadan

Restaurants in Dubai not required to screen off dining areas during Ramadan
Updated 12 April 2021

Restaurants in Dubai not required to screen off dining areas during Ramadan

Restaurants in Dubai not required to screen off dining areas during Ramadan

DUBAI: Restaurants in Dubai will not be required to screen off dining areas during the fasting hour of Ramadan, state news agency WAM reported.

Restaurants will be allowed to serve customers without putting in place curtains, dividers or facades as has been the mandatory practice previously, a circular issued by Dubai’s Department of Economic Development on Sunday said.

Restaurants will not be required to obtain a permit for serving food to customers during Ramadan fasting hours.