A series of cartoons about a foreigner who crashed in a Qatar World Cup 2022 match aims to ease cultural tensions between more than a million foreign football fans and citizens of the law-abiding country. As a newcomer, Kawkabani, the star of Qatar’s first cartoon series, must learn Arabic pronunciation, drink coffee, and discover that the people of Qatar are preparing a great deal of food for their guests.
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The creators Hossein Heydar and Amal al-Shammari also want the people of Qatar to get the message that they will have to make a cultural agreement for the many beer drinkers, who want the fun they gather in their country in November and December. The first two 10-minute episodes of Kawkabani meaning Planet Person in Arabic have already been launched on YouTube by their company, Nefaish Animation.
As a cartoon studio, we looked at content in the region, even in Qatar, and felt that there was a lack of content representing Qatari culture, said Shammari, creative director of Nefesh. Arabic words were sometimes unfamiliar and clothes were always wrong.
We felt that we needed a studio in Qatar that would take into account all these details and represent Qatari culture in the right way, he said. Qatar’s victory in securing the right to host the FIFA World Cup 2022 allows her to showcase her culture and traditions. We want to explain more and share our culture with visitors, said Shammari, who wrote the article. For more to know about Qatar World Cup tickets Click here.
Nefaish only employs Middle Eastern artists with knowledge of Arabic culture, adds Heydar, who is in charge of animation. Outside of Kawkabani, the series features three main Qatari characters that represent what the creators consider to be the main threads of a strong 270,000 traditional community, located near more than 2.5 million foreign workers.
Faisal is a traditional Bedouin, a community that once lived in the desert. You know they are proud of their culture, and sometimes they take it in stride, said Shammari. But they would support you no matter what. They will always be there for you. Saad, one of the Qatari characters, is a modern city citizen.
You are open to different cultures, you are open to people, and you want to be an entrepreneur, says the author. As for Khalifa, he represents a growing mixed community in Qatar. Vegan, her mother is British and her father is Qatari. Each of the five episodes in the first series translated into English, French, Spanish, Hindi, Mandarin Chinese, and Japanese on YouTube depicts the Qatari lifestyle, especially food and drink.
Kawkabani gets into trouble due to the inability to touch the hand of the food used to indicate that you have drunk too much coffee. But the series is also funny at Qataris. With an estimated 1.4 million visitors to Qatar’s World Cup, Shammari said the cartoon seeks to explain to the people of Qatar that this culture must be accepted.
Kawkabani was funded by the organizers of the Qatar World Cup 2022, the Executive Committee for Heritage, the Doha Film Institute, and the telecommunications giant Vodafone. While the original plans did not address controversial issues such as the rights of immigrant workers and women, Heydar emphasized the need for complete artistic freedom.
This is our program and the sponsors are very supportive and give us the freedom to create it the way we see it, he said. The two have already organized another Kawkabani series and other projects to highlight Arab culture. Our legacy is full of stories, full of characters, full of heroes and we want to show them from Qatar or the Arab region to the rest of the world, he said.
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