RIYADH: Saudi Research & Media Group (SRMG) launched on Sunday a Manga magazine for children, which draws inspiration from the region.
“Manga Arabia Kids” shares Arab culture through the style of Japanese animation, incorporating Arabic slang, local graphics, and captivating storytelling.
The first edition of the magazine, curated for 10-15 year-olds, was launched at a ceremony in Riyadh.
A panel of speakers inaugurated the first edition, including Dr. Essam Bukhary, the editor-in-chief of Manga Arabia, and the magazine’s writer and editor Odai Karsoo.
“Manga Arabia Kids” aims to cultivate a love for literature and storytelling among youths and also provide a resource that encourages readers to continue using the Arabic language.
“It is an ambitious project for children and older age groups as well,” Maha Al-Majnooni, one of the magazine’s producers, who also illustrates and writes the stories, said. “We aim to promote the culture of reading and also enable imagination to build the future.”
The ceremony began by welcoming the first two children to receive the magazine.
Bukhary then outlined the main objectives of “Manga Arabia Kids,” which includes encouraging reading among children.
“We want to promote reading as a hobby within society for younger generations in Saudi Arabia,” Bukhary said. “Statistics indicate that a Saudi reads an average of 46 minutes per week.”
He said he hoped the launch of the magazine that interests the youth will grow a generation of individuals that have a passion for literature.
The magazine aims to create a closer link between children and the use of the Arabic language. The panel stressed the importance of cultivating resources that promote and support the ability of children to express themselves in Arabic.
Bukhary said: “Now we are facing generations that do not speak the Arabic language, some people have asked me ‘why not provide the Manga in English?’ I said ‘no’, we want it to be linked to the Arabic language, because the Arabic language is a cultural vessel that builds and strengthens this generation.”
The comic will help build a Saudi Arabian entertainment industry system through Manga, Bukhary said, adding that the industry in Japan is worth $5.5 billion annually.
He said producing the comics would invest in Arab and Saudi talent. Manga Arabia has a diverse team of Saudi illustrators, writers, and producers that bring the manga to life.
He also hopes the magazine will create future generations of ambitious and goal-driven individuals.
“We measure our success, not in a day, two days, or a month. We are talking about the next 30 or 40 years,” Bukhary said. “Our goal is to strive to make this generation relate to its language, culture and identity, looking forward to the future and achieving the goal of 2030.
“My dream is that we will see students from Japan, from the Middle East and the West come to study how our sons and daughters made the Saudi dream.”
Bukhary ended with his address with a heartfelt message.
“When I studied in Japan, I learned a very beautiful principle,” he said. “A successful leader is the one who prepares a new generation of leaders who will surpass him. In order to succeed globally we must support each other and future generations.”
The 244-page inaugural issue debuts comic-stars like “Bissa”, “Gundam” and the Saudi superhero “Al Wallad Al Dabb.”
Jomana Al-Rashid, CEO of SRMG, said: “The launch of “Manga Arabia Kids” magazine marks the first phase in the Manga Arabia project; a promising step in our group's transformation, growth and expansion strategy.
“We continue to strive towards empowering the Arab creative content industries, spreading the culture of reading and writing fiction, while stimulating the imagination and creativity of young Arab generations to better shape the future.”