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

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.


Saudi minister hails ‘special relationship’ with Japan

Updated 22 October 2019

Saudi minister hails ‘special relationship’ with Japan

  • “We share common values,” said Majid Al-Qasabi

TOKYO: Saudi Arabia has a “special relationship” with Japan, which is “reliable strategic partner and friend” of the Kingdom, the Saudi Minister for Commerce and Investment Majid Al-Qasabi said on Monday.

The minister was speaking at the launch in Tokyo of the Japanese-language online edition of Arab News, in the latest stage of its global expansion. The event came on the eve of Tuesday’s ceremonial enthronement of Emperor Naruhito in the Japanese capital. “This is a great opportunity, a moment in history,” Al-Qasabi said.

The news website, published in Japanese and English, will focus on enabling the exchange of information between Japan and the Arab world in business, current affairs, and arts and culture. “It will be good to have news in Japanese so many Japanese can read about the Arab world,” Japan’s Defense Minister Taro Kono said at the launch.

Common values

“We share common values, we have a high respect for the elders and we think that the family is very important … to me we are friends and I think we need to work together.

“In order to do that we need to know what people in the Middle East are actually thinking, what is happening on a daily basis, and we haven’t got the source for that — but now Arab News is in Japan.

“This is a very good means to exchange information between the Middle East and Japan, so I am very much looking forward to it.”