x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

A new manga union sees the Far East meet the Middle East

Inspired by the huge popularity in the UAE of Japanese manga, a Dubai company has published the first manga-style comic in classical Arabic.

Images from Gold Ring, a manga in classic Arabic.
Images from Gold Ring, a manga in classic Arabic.

ABU DHABI // Inspired by the huge popularity in the UAE of Japanese manga, a Dubai company has published the first manga-style comic in classical Arabic. Gold Ring, the debut Arabic manga series by Pageflip Publishing, tells the story of Sultan, a 15-year-old Emirati boy, and his falcon Majd as they compete in a fictional obstacle race.

Generations of young Emiratis have fallen in love with the world of manga. Around 50,000 of the comics have been sold at the Kinokuniya book store in Dubai Mall since it opened in November with readers, both young and old, snapping up the popular classics. Gold Ring is printed in the traditional manga format, using black and white graphics to reproduce the Japanese style. Qais Sedki, the author and publisher of Gold Ring, hopes the content will inspire young Arabs to read more.

"Japanese manga is a very engaging literary format as the graphic and narrative techniques require the reader's participation," he said. "Just like art, the reader can bring to the novel their own interpretation of the illustrations." Tokyo's foremost manga team, Akira Himekawa, who produced Nintendo's Legend of Zelda and Astro Boy, collaborated with the illustrations. As with Japanese manga books, Gold Ring contains strong moral messages of good and evil and triumphing against adversity.

Sultan and his falcon encounter challenges to test their determination and strength of character in their adventure. "Gold Ring reminds us of some of life's most valuable lessons and teaches us that persistence and hope ultimately pay off," said Mr Sedki. He added that the book had been adapted to ensure sensitivity with Arab cultural norms. "Language and literacy are inextricably linked with notions of citizenship, society and the ways we get along with one another in the world. It is so important that we provide original Arabic books that cater to the different interest and competency levels of our children.

"A lot of our kids are taught in English these days so this is one way we can maintain and develop their classical Arabic language skills." @Email:newsdesk@thenational.ae