17 February 2017 Aisha Fareed
Jeddah - An estimated 7,000 of Saudi-based comic fans on Thursday flocked to the Kingdom’s first Comic Con event.
“Saudi Comic Con looks exactly like every other fan convention I’ve ever been to. What an amazing turnout,” said Maxwell Alexander, an American award-winning Science Fiction/Fantasy author, graphic novelist and playwright best known for his fantasy series The Genesis of Oblivion Saga. He commented on the Saudi event in a video he shared on his official Facebook page.
The three-day festival of anime, pop art, video gaming and film-related events is part of a government initiative to bring more entertainment to Saudi Arabia. Both men and women Comic Con fans attended the event.
The event was so popular that the queue to enter the building stretched for more than 100 yards when the event opened in mid-afternoon. Inside the darkened hall, rock music blared.
Some young men were dressed in the costumes of their favorite Japanese anime characters.
“Many people in Saudi Arabia like Japanese culture so much, and Korean culture,” Abdul Aziz said, calling it “amazing” that Comic-Con is taking place in her country.
Canadian rapper Drake was the first to open the sessions on creative writing and dynamic story creation. “I already knew before coming to Saudi Arabia that the youth make up a big number of the Saudi nation,” Drake told Arab News.
Convention attendees listened carefully to Drake’s tips and advice on how to be a creative writer. Choosing the genre, theme, type of readers and many more were addressed in the one-and-a-half-hour session.
Two open panel discussions were held. The first panel featured the moderators and speakers from the “Bewitched” show and “Takki” YouTube series. The second session was hosted local directors who discussed their experience sin the film industry.
Several other discussions will be held over the two next days covering topics such as comics, video games and production.
With loud cheering and yelling, Saudis offered the warmest welcome for two “Game of Thrones” actors: Julian Glover and Charles Dance. The actors said they were impressed by the Saudis' enthusiasm in their reception.
The two prominent stars visited Saudi Arabia for the first time to mark an exceptional era in the Entertainment industry of the Kingdom.
“Saudi Arabia should have many more of these events,” said Julian Glover. “It should bring films into this country very soon.”
Comic-Con began in 1970 as a convention of a few dozen geeks who swapped superhero magazines in the US.
The event has grown in size and spread around the world, including to Saudi Arabia’s Gulf neighbor Dubai.
The government’s General Entertainment Authority has said it supports the event, organized by Saudi firm Time Entertainment, because of Comic-Con’s “strong family appeal.”
Providing more entertainment is one of the goals of Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 economic diversification plan developed by Deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
He is keen to harness the energy of a population more than half of which is under 25.
— Agence France Presse contributed to this report.
© Arab News 2017