The Evolution of Comic Con UAE: From Fans to Families
The Middle East Film & Comic Con, in its 12th edition in the UAE, celebrates movies, TV, comics, and gaming, drawing fans and artists globally, including local talents showcasing their unique cultural touches
Omnia Al Desoukie/The Media Line
Mariam and her husband James met at the Middle East Film & Comic Con seven years ago. They recently got married, so for them, the 12th year’s edition was a reminder of where they originally met.
“We have been married for 10 months now, so we had to come here,” Mariam said. For her and many other fans, this convention is a place to express themselves.
This convention is a place to celebrate movies, TV, comics, cosplay, art, anime, manga, and gaming in the UAE. It attracts people from various backgrounds and geographical locations within the region. The event was previously held in Dubai, but after it was canceled due to the COVID-19 lockdown, it returned to ADNEC in Abu Dhabi.
“I came here last year from India because I wanted to see the convention, loved it, and took a proper holiday to actually come and spend the 3 days here,” said Tom, originally from Rhode Island and currently a teacher who lives in India. “I enjoy the local artists who are interesting, so yes, celebrities are fun, but for me, what I want to find out is what people are doing locally.”
This year’s edition flew in artists such as Iñaki Godoy (One Piece), James and Oliver Phelps (Harry Potter franchise), Sophia Di Martino (Marvel), Frank Welker (Voice of Transformers, Megatron), Peter Cullen (Voice of Transformers, Optimus Prime), Temuera Morrison (Star Wars), Troy Baker (Voice of Joel from The Last of Us), and Oscar Isacc.
The convention is not only about artists but also pop-up collectors from various countries, bringing in their items, such as Funko pop figures and signed prints from comic book artists.
The Artist Alley has local and regional artists to sell their work. Hamda Al Khajeh, a 28-year-old Emirati, is an artist and a character designer who sells her products based on the “Emirati style.” She explains, “I have the touch of my surroundings. All the products that are here have the unique touch of the Emirati culture,” Al Khajeh explains as she sets up her booth in the artist’s ally before visitors come in.
“My characters are original. I want people to see how we Emirati artists have our touches,” she said.
“We are a store that sells swords, we got 700 swords over here. We also have figurines, and stickers,” Abdallah El Regebi, 21, an Emirati seller.
“This is my first Comic Con, and honestly, I have never interacted with seven people at the same time. It is great,” He added.
“The fans are lovely. The anime community – it’s not like the other sports. They are real. They come to you and talk to you about their favorite anime,” El Regebi explained.
The Comic Con convention in the UAE represents a different setting for the people in the region who would like to meet their favorite characters or dress up. But it is also a place where international talents come in to showcase their products and interact with their fans.
Within the event, there are people who experience different dances, giveaways, and activities for families as well. But also, some who have been coming to the event for a long time have begun to bring their children as well.
James C. Mulligan is an American artist and actor who is based in California, best known for his celebrity fine art and commercial murals. He has been attending the convention for the past few years “I have fans that I get to see their kids grow every year,” he said. “Their kids go from these tiny [people] in the strollers to walking around and flipping through my artwork, and I know their parents might have brought my artwork when they were babies. It is very special.”
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