Ka-Boom! Middle East Film and Comic Con takes Dubai by storm

The chance to get creative and dress up as comic characters lures many fans. (Photo courtesy: MEFCC)
Updated 07 April 2017

Ka-Boom! Middle East Film and Comic Con takes Dubai by storm

DUBAI: The Middle East Film and Comic Con (MEFCC) has landed in Dubai and is taking the city by storm, with event organizers expecting more than 70,000 visitors at the three-day pop culture extravaganza.

The event, set to run until April 8, is an explosion of color and celebrates everything from comic book characters to manga, animation and sci-fi entertainment.

Now in its sixth year, the 2017 edition promises to be bigger and better than ever, with a special Star Trek 50 Year Exhibit featuring art by the original Spock actor Leonard Nimoy, as well as creative tributes to “Star Trek” from 50 artists based in 10 countries around the world.

The event promises to keep fans of all ages busy with a dizzying line-up of activities, including a Battle Park where visitors can test their combat skills in a “Call of Duty” style obstacle course, a WWE ramp on which wrestling wannabees can practice their toughest walk, and a Retro Gaming area full of blasts from the gaming past.

“There’s a vibrant local — expat and indigenous — appetite for pop culture content, hobbyist activity and a culture that’s eager to produce and consume entertainment,” Yasser Alireza, who is taking part in the event as an exhibitor, told Arab News.

He is the co-creator and artist behind “Wayl,” one of the region’s only adult-targeted comic book thriller series based in the Middle East.

“Our strap line is ‘Woe unto the Wicked.’ It’s a completely home-grown project by two residents of the UAE — one Arab Canadian and the other Saudi — with full-time jobs in other fields.

“Last year, we successfully launched our first issue. This year, we’ll launch our second issue, hoping to attract consumers, distributors, publishers and other key influencers. We’ve also been invited to talk at a panel about how to start your own comic book project from scratch, and we’re producing a limited and exclusive MEFCC variant of our comic for the convention.”

The comic book creator is not the only one looking to entertain crowds at this year’s event. Dubai-based DJ Hype is taking to the Syfy Mainstage as one of the official entertainment acts.

True to his name, he is keeping the crowd hyped with a signature mix of tunes on Wasta Radio, his own online station.

“We plan on bringing a brighter, more animated experience to the event by bringing everyone’s inner geek out, one song at a time, in our live mix,” he told Arab News.

Why is a DJ taking part in the region’s largest comic-focused event? “I'm an old-school geek, plain and simple. I’ve collected Pokémon cards, was part of the first Super Mario Club in Dubai… collected DC Comics, stayed after every Marvel movie to see the teasers after the end credits… I’m at Comic Con because it’s my tribe,” he said.

Famous faces and cosplay

Fans of Marvel’s blockbuster movies are in for another surprise at this year’s event, as celebrity guest Anthony Mackie is set to make an appearance.

Well-known from Oscar-winning films “The Hurt Locker” and “Million Dollar Baby,” Mackie starred as The Falcon in the third instalment of the “Captain America” franchise “Captain America: Civil War,” reprising his role from “Captain America: The Winter Soldier” and “Avengers: Age of Ultron.”

Kevin Sebastien, a visitor at the event, told Arab News: “I’m particularly looking forward to seeing Anthony Mackie. I’d definitely like to have a word with him.

“As a person who isn’t ashamed to call himself a geek, I’m glad Comic Con allows people to express that… Events like this bring people together, from as young as 5 to older fans.”

The biggest draw, said Sebastien, is the chance to get creative and dress up as comic characters in what is known as cosplay, a hybrid of the words costume and play.

“I’m cosplaying as a character called Rorschach from DC Comic’s ‘The Watchmen’,” he said.
His favorite part about coming out in costume is “having kids know who you are and wanting to take pictures with you. They want to take selfies and photographs. Giving that experience to a kid is heart-warming.”

Fellow cosplayer Katarina is no stranger to the limelight at Comic Con. “This will be my fourth year cosplaying at the MEFCC,” she told Arab News.

“I’ll be going as Laura (X-23) from the movie ‘Logan,’ as well as a female version of The Punisher from the Marvel/Netflix series ‘Daredevil.’ For me, cosplaying is thrilling because you don’t just make your costume so you look like the character you love, you get to embody their personality and essentially perform.”

Katarina believes the event is important as it unites fans from all over the world. “The rise of the Internet in the last couple of decades has led to widespread interest in global pop culture, and it’s not uncommon to find people regularly interested in an anime from Japan, a comic book from the US or music from Korea,” she said.

What better place for fans to unite over their love of all that is action-packed and fantastical than the larger-than-life melting pot of Dubai?


Lolo Zouai reconnects with Algerian roots in new music video

Lolo Zouai unveiled her newest music video this week. (Instagram)
Updated 25 January 2020

Lolo Zouai reconnects with Algerian roots in new music video

  • The new video for singer Lolo Zouai’s “Desert Rose” is here
  • Filmed in Morocco, the clip is a celebration of Zouai’s North African roots

DUBAI: The new video for singer Lolo Zouai’s “Desert Rose” is here and it’s a beautiful celebration of her North African roots.

The Franco-Algerian singer, who was born Laureen Zouai in France to a French mother and an Algerian father and relocated to San Francisco with her family when she was three-months-old, wrote the song as a love letter to her Algerian family.

Zouai (pronounced “zoo-eye”) has been vocal about her period of internal struggle during which she felt she wasn’t as in touch with her Algerian heritage as she would have liked. These feelings informed her fourth single, whose title alludes to the rose-like crystal formations that occur in the desert of Algeria, and further plays on her existing feelings of not belonging.

Filmed in an unnamed village situated in Morocco’s Essaouira, the Emilie Badenhorst-directed clip further captures the 24-year-old’s feelings of displacement and desperate longing to reconnect with her father’s side of the family’s culture and traditions.

In the video, the singer croons “‘Inshallah,’ that’s what you say/ You think I lost my faith,” as she fraternizes with local children, watches a group of elders make couscous and traverses the sea in a boat all while wearing a mix of Western clothing and traditional Berber accessories.  

“I’m so grateful I was able to travel to North Africa to tell my story. To be honest, I was really scared to share this part of my life, but hopefully you guys understand me a little better now,” she shared with her 223,000 Instagram followers, alongside a wilted rose emoji.

“Desert Rose” is from her debut studio album entitled “High Highs to Low Lows” that dropped in 2019. Since its release, the project has amassed more than 50 million streams worldwide. In addition to the success of her own LP, the singer was also recognized for her song-writing skills in 2019 when she took home her first Grammy award for co-writing “Still Down” from H.E.R.’s self-titled album, which took home the R&B Album of the Year award at the Grammys that same year.

As of now, the Brooklyn-based singer is set to open up for British crooner Dua Lipa’s “Future Nostalgia” European tour in 2020.

The new music video will be screened all week at Time’s Square and Madison Square Garden in New York as well as The Staples Center in Los Angeles.