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

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.


UK to return looted Sumerian artifact to Iraq

Updated 10 min 30 sec ago

UK to return looted Sumerian artifact to Iraq

  • Temple plaque found in online auction spotted by experts at British Museum
  • Thought to have been stolen from Tello in southern Iraq, site of ancient city of Girsu

LONDON: An ancient artifact that may have been looted before being smuggled to the UK is set to return to Iraq.

The item is a Sumerian temple plaque featuring the seated figure of a high priest or ruler, carved from limestone and dating from around 2400 BC.

It will be sent to Iraq, where it is thought to have originated, after it was spotted for sale and seized by police in 2019 following a tip off by experts at the British Museum in London.

The plaque will be put on display to the public for the next two months at the museum before its repatriation.

Prior to its discovery, no record of the plaque was found in any official record or museum inventory, lending credence to the theory that it may have been looted.

It bears physical resemblances to other Sumerian artifacts discovered at Girsu, one of the world’s oldest known settlements, at modern-day Tello in southern Iraq.

Girsu, originally excavated by French archaeologists from the late 19th century, has also been the focus of researchers from the British Museum in recent years. Even now, only a small part of the site has been successfully excavated.

The trade in stolen and smuggled items of huge value from the Middle East is lucrative, and a constant source of dialogue between the British Museum and international police forces hunting stolen goods.

“We’re used to coming across tablets, pots, metalwork, seals and figurines on the art market or in seizures that have been trafficked. But it’s really exceptional to see something of this quality,” said Dr. St. John Simpson, the museum’s senior curator.

“There are only about 50 examples of these known from ancient Mesopotamia. So that immediately places it on the high-rarity scale,” he added.

“We can be fairly sure that this object comes from the Sumerian heartland. That is the area that got very badly looted between the 1990s and 2003.”

Christopher Wren of TimeLine Auctions, where the plaque was spotted for sale by Simpson’s colleague Sebastien Rey, admitted that it was possible that it had been looted from Iraq. 

“The vendor, who had casually and innocently acquired it from a German arts fair some years ago, was horrified to hear this and immediately volunteered to renounce any claim to ownership and expressed the wish that it be returned to its place of origin,” Wren said.

“The piece is not documented as having been looted and is not listed on any database, so it did not show on the checks undertaken by us.”

Mohammad Jaafar Al-Sadr, Iraq’s ambassador to the UK, said: “We extend our gratitude to the British Museum staff for their efforts and cooperation with us.”