DUBAI // Modhesh, the springy yellow figure used to advertise the Dubai Shopping Festival, is soon to become the face of the emirate around the world. "This year, Modhesh is going global to promote Dubai as a destination," said Laila Suhail, chief executive of the festival. Modhesh, along with the loveable old ladies of the hit animated television programme Freej, is among the region's first home-grown cartoon characters, but Ms Suhail said more were on the way.
She was speaking ahead of the first Dubai International Character and Licensing Fair, a trade exposition organised to help graphic designers and advertisers from the region develop and promote their characters. "It is not only about how to create a character, but how to turn it from a mascot into a brand," she said. "With Modhesh, for example, there are already more than 600 products available to buy. This industry will grow and there will be many more characters coming out of this region."
Abdul al Madani, president of Index Holding, the company hosting the trade fair, said there was no shortage of talent eager to create new character brands. "People in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain and elsewhere all want to bring their characters to the market. "In other countries there is very active support from governments for the character and licensing industry, but in Arab countries, I am sorry to say, governments are not active in supporting this type of business. I think that will change."
Designers and marketers will have the opportunity to present their ideas to companies at the fair. The fair will be held Oct 28-30 at the International Convention and Exhibition Centre. Alex Chirico, special project manager for Freej, said there was plenty of room in the regional market for new characters and ideas. "Freej was one of the first cartoons to come from this region, but there are plenty more coming and we want to encourage them."
"The pie is big enough for everyone to have a share. There is a lot of long-term potential. If you look at Freej, we will keep it on television but we are also expanding into other areas, like the Freej resort in Dubailand, which is planned for 2013. This is a brand that is only three years old, so I think there is a good future for the industry." firstname.lastname@example.org