Experiencing the Middle East Film and Comic Con

 

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Traveling over seven thousand miles from home, one is bound to feel like she has entered a portal into another universe.  Often, one may think that life on the other side of the world is incredibly different.  Though this thought may be true, the amazing part of one’s journey is realizing that no matter where we live, who we are or where we come from there are common threads that tie us together as human beings.

The common bond between different “worlds” was evident to me as I ventured with my brother, Sohaib Awan and friend Keith Olson (insert shout out to Olson’s Martial Arts here), to the United Arab Emirates for the MEFCC (Middle East Film and Comic Con) in Dubai a couple of weeks ago.

For starters, the differences in cultures started as soon as our trip did.  Two people from Tennessee (who have very different cultures from one another in general) teaming up with a gentleman from the Philly area were sure to create a motley crew as we boarded a plane to Dubai from the already melting pot of JFK airport.

Throw in a couple of genders, religions, a variety of ages from different decades, a range of skin tones and hair color and a complete set of differing personalities and the adventure begins just by being in the same room.  Add to that equation a double decker thirteen hour plane excursion to the Middle East and the list goes on.

Managing energy levels, eating and sleeping schedules and traveling styles was a task in itself and yet each of us meshed well together, beautifully, with no conflicts (other than irate film discussions here and there, but hey, what are brother and sister “Film Nazi’s” to do?).

Yes, stories are plentiful of our journey.  If need be I could write a book about all of the crazy, awkward, unique, educational, awesomely fun and eye opening situations that occurred in our seven days as traveling companions but I’m typically a person who lives in the moment of adventures.  I don’t talk much about what did or didn’t happen.  When people ask how my trip was I typically answer with an emphatic “Good!” trailed by an “It’s was fun.” If people ask me more specifics, I might divulge some information but for the most part I keep it brief.

Overtime, stories will surface,  usually when relevant to conversation,  or when I have the sudden urge just to tell someone who “gets” me and will understand why I’ve suddenly decided to blab a tale of an odd or wonderful occurrence.  Mostly though, my travel stories will be memorable moments that I keep to myself and/or share with those who were present.

Now,  what I absolutely can share is how incredibly awesome my first real Comic Con was!

Just when we thought we entered a new world and culture traveling across the globe we realized that the MEFCC was like the film Inception…a dream, within a dream, within a dream and it just never stopped.

Thousands of excited fans (and by thousands I mean tens of thousands as in 30,000) anywhere from Europe to Kuwait filtered in and out for three days of what was an absolutely unique and wonderful experience.

Love Movies? The Con had you covered.

Comic fan? Check.

Cosplay? Absolutely.

Appreciation of Art? Definitely.

Like meeting celebs? Take a number and stand in line.

Music? Yes

Video Games? Of course.

Lights, cameras, action!  You name it, “it” was there.

(Aside from meeting Giancarlo Esposito aka Gustavo Fring from Breaking Bad) My favorite part of the Con was engrossing myself in the absolutely fascinating culture of a Comic Con, bonding with fellow comic book creators/artists and the amazing opportunity of getting to spend time with and doing martial arts demos (thanks to Keith) for potential Blades of Hope fans, hoping to inspire a variety of strengths in young women and men they may not know they have.

Yes, it’s a very different world in the Middle East.  Dubai itself is a city of prosperity, beautiful skylines with amazingly modern architecture where taxi cabs of the Lexus variety gracefully glide along highways. The posh city of Dubai sparkles in a way I’ve never seen before.  And despite the amount of seriousness and wealth that oozes from the pores of many Dubai locals, they are honest and kind in this city where everything is chicly massive. And though the city is complex with its presentation and use of technology there is simplicity to it that I miss.

In the end, regardless of how different my world is in Tennessee from the streamlined towering structures of Dubai I still prefer my mountains and trees.

But the most important thing I learned while we were away is that we all have a common thread, the desire to have fun, relax and be happy even if just for a little while.   So whether you are from green mountains in The States, a small town in Kuwait, a cobble stoned street in London or a palace in Dubai through the love of movies, comics and art, the MEFCC brought to everyone just that.

Thank you MEFCC for showing us that in the end we are all pretty much the same.

 

For more information on Jabal Entertainment’s Comic Book Series Blades of Hope:

www.facebook.com/BladesofHope

www.facebook.com/thewritepaige

Blades of Hope: Press Release

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Blades of Hope” Philadelphia Press Release:

Women and girls from around the world, trained in martial arts, join forces to solve a worldwide disaster and instill hope using their intelligence, physical strengths and good character.

PRESS RELEASE Philadelphia, PA –
With the help of publishing company Jabal Entertainment (creators of the IDW published series Jinnrise), co-creators Maryam Awan and Sohaib Awan and author Paige Hartman debut Hartman’s first partial fantasy graphic novel, Blades of Hope, hoping to reach out to young adult audiences uncommon in the comic book industry.

In Blades of Hope, strong female characters, skilled in martial arts, modestly take the helm using their intelligence, physical strengths and caring natures to help others in a world struggling to survive.

“Having a Master’s degree in Counseling, I’ve dealt with the many struggles our youth faces daily when it comes to body image. Today’s young audiences, male and female, are fraught with a society where they feel they must showcase their bodies far more than showcasing their intelligence and inner strengths.” says Hartman. “My decision to become a full time writer was easy. I knew that there were creative ways to reach out to our youth through mediums that young adults naturally gravitate towards, which today is through the entertainment industry. The art of graphic novels and comic books is rapidly evolving reaching more and more audiences daily. Such a beautiful art form can and should be used to connect with our youth helping them to value themselves. I believe, as a superheroine, you don’t have to be naked to save the world.”

Blades of Hope follows the journey of lead character and martial arts expert, Suriani, as she teams up with other women and girls to solve the mystery of a continuing apocalypse. It is through their wits and skills that they are able to close in on an other worldly devastation that surrounds them.

Jabal Entertainment CEO, Sohaib Awan, plans on releasing Blades of Hope internationally and in the United States later this year.

For more information on Blades of Hope and author Paige Hartman please turn to the following social media:
Blog: http://www.paigehartman.me Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/thewritepaige
http://www.facebook.com/bladesofhope
Twitter: @thewritepaige