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Saudi artist wins Japan manga contest

RIYADH: The Japanese Ambassador to the Kingdom Fumio Iwai awarded Saudi manga artist Samah Kamel with the 17th Japan International Manga Award’s Special Encouragement Award at a ceremony held at the Japanese Embassy in Riyadh.  

Kamel, a regular creator for Manga Arabia, expressed her joy at winning the prize for her work “Taif” about the challenges facing parents of children on the autism spectrum, and the various ways autistic people can be accommodated and integrated into society.

“I was shocked to win because I had entered a few times before without ever winning. This taught me that persistence pays off, and my daughter, who is here with me today, inspired the manga. I would like to encourage any mother raising a child with a disability to know that she is a powerful and inspirational person,” Kamel told Arab News.  

Issam Bukhari, editor-in-chief of Manga Arabia, said Kamel’s achievement is a historic milestone in exporting Saudi and Arab creativity to the world as the first Saudi work to win the Japan International Manga Award, presented by the Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Iwai told Arab News: “What Manga Arabia is doing is great. I’m very happy today to commend one of their talents for being awarded the International Manga Award, the 17th edition.

“Manga is one of the most popular cultural fields in Japan. So again, I’m very happy to see the spread of Manga culture, not only in Saudi Arabia but also in the Arab world, and what is quite impressive is that Manga Arabia produces so many companies and is providing Saudi kids, Saudi juniors, with their Arabic version of Japan.

“To use manga as well as their original works, and I know Saudi authorities are also trying to make use of manga … in various fields, teaching, like history … environmental protection, and so on,” he added.

“Taif” can be downloaded on the Manga Arabia for Kids app.