Sharjah International Book Fair 29th Edition

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Sharjah, United Arab Emirates
ExpoCenter 7th - 17th November, 2012. Hours | Saturday - Thursday: 10a.m. - 10p.m.; Friday: 4p.m - 10p.m.

Saturday, 24 March 2012 | Japanese treats for Geekfest visitors

Sharjah: Cool stuff will get a crowd going and at least 100 people, who decided to start their weekend at the Maraya Art Centre in Al Qasba, got a dose of cool creations on Thursday evening.

It came by way of simultaneous presentations of the arts, video games, literature and the online platform, among others through the “Geekfest Sharjah.”

A first in the emirate and as a follow through to several similar events held in the region’s principal cities since 2009, the gathering primarily meant for individuals engrossed in digital and social media, proved to be the channel wherein the traditional could be given leeway.

Take the case of ‘manga’ through the eyes and exposure of Emirati Qais Sedki.

The former information communications technology person delves into this late 19th-century Japanese literature, believing that using it to propagate Arab and Emirati cultures in these modern times would be more appealing to other communities.

“The best way to make a change among the youth is to use something they can associate or relate well with, rather than (other forms of literature) forced on them to read,” said the father of two, when interviewed.

Sedki, who had gone to the Philippines years ago, provided his audience with details of what ‘manga’ is all about, starting his lecture by saying it is not ‘mangga’ the Filipino term for mango, and relating it to the kamishibai, the traditional “walking storyteller” in the Land of the Rising Sun. 

The Sheikh Zayed Book Award 2010-Children’s Literature Category winner also shared with them his journey to the publication of his two-volume ‘mangas’, the plot of which is about the adventures of 15-year-old Emirati Sultan, involved in the fictional sport of the gold ring similar to falconry.

Earlier on, he told The Gulf Today, “This (Manga) is considered cool. If we want to encourage everyone to read, then this is it. The content is our own but the (tool) is imported.”

Saying there are a lot of ‘mangakas’ or ‘manga’ illustrators worldwide, Sedki added he decided to use the talent of the Japanese for his works “since it is in Japan where it (manga) all started.”

“Children will have fun really (reading ‘manga’),” he also said, agreeing that if people want to disseminate information or impact and effect change, the best way is through the most effective form of media, of which one is ‘manga’ whose annual sales alone in Japan reaches billions of dollars.

Talking of another “cool” Japanese import on Thursday evening was another Emirati, Ali Murad.

The graduating interior designing student from Ajman University is one of the eight university members of the JUKI (Japan, UAE, Kizuna Initiative) that promotes the 17th-century art of paper folding.

It was the second time for the group, headed by Saeed Al Suwaidi, to share their skills on origami at the art gallery with adults and children.

Saying he and the seven other members are attracted to the art and craft as it is normal for Emiratis to be oriented toward Japan and its culture by way of its ‘animes’ and cartoons with Arabic translations, Murad said it was last February, when all of them, along with the UAE’s “Green Sheikh,” Sheikh Abdul Aziz Al Nuaimi, carried with them 1,000 origami pieces created by Emirati youth who were told to make and write wishes on them.

“There is a legend about the fulfilment of a wish through the creation of 1,000 pieces of origami,” he explained, adding that the 1,000 pieces brought to the March 11, 2011 tsunami sites and to the Hiroshima Memorial were all for the Japanese people “to live in peace.”

Upcoming artists Allan Wazacz and Faisal Hashim said in separate interviews that their introduction to the TripleW.Me website gave them the boost they need in their respective interests.

Musician Wazacz and film director Hashim have both had chances to be seen, through the Arabic-English website introduced in the UAE in July 2010. Hashim said that his first independent film “Perfect Living” had been viewed in Paris, France because of the website.

Wazacz’s joining a competition sponsored by the website had his performance going viral.

The goal is to promote regional talents, said TripleW.Me marketing and content manager Rasha Omer who believes the creation of opportunities in online media will lead to the proper usage of it.

Meanwhile, Romanian photographer Catalin Marin whose travel photography garnered the Best Photo Blog for Asia and Oceania last year held a session on the 10 tips on photoshoot and post-processing.

“Geekfest Sharjah” organiser Alexander McNabb said a second version of the event made possible through the Sharjah International Book Fair is already in the pipeline.