Comic book fans unite at Stan Lee Super Con in Riyadh

This country is opening up and it is very exciting, said comic book artist Bob Layton. (AN photo by Bbasheer Saleh)
Updated 15 November 2019

Comic book fans unite at Stan Lee Super Con in Riyadh

RIYADH: The Stan Lee Super Con kick-started at the Riyadh Front, providing a place for comic book fans to express themselves.

The conventions were divided into two parts — Anime Con and the Stan Lee Super Con. The Super Con was a comic nerd’s dream come true, bringing together everything from the Batmobile, the Delorian from “Back to the Future” and the time-traveling Tardis from “Doctor Who.”

The convention also brought together a variety of celebrities, including actors, creators and famous artists.

The comic book artist Bob Layton, best known for his work in Marvel Comics’ “Iron Man” and “Hercules” sat in a booth to give autographs to star-struck fans.

“I am looking forward to seeing Saudi Arabia very much — because of work I haven’t seen much. When I travel, I am more interested in where culture is than where it has been, especially in Saudi Arabia because this country is opening up and it is very exciting,” Layton told Arab News.

“I am very glad to be meeting so many Saudis here, since they come here to see me. Americans have a very warped perception of Muslim countries and I don’t share that because once you get to meet the people you see that we are very much alike.”

He shared his story of how he got into comics, which tells of how useful of a tool comic books can be: He learned how to read by reading comics.

“All the pictures made sense to me and as a child it made me want to understand what was in the text balloons, so I became a reader at the age of four. If they can teach a four-year-old how to read, they can teach a lot of things to a lot of people.

“Part of my achievement as a comic artist is that my work has transcended comics and became global. So, now wherever I go in the world I see that comics have become universal.”

The actor Sam J. Jones, who played the infamous “Flash Gordon” in the 1980 film, was also present.

He said he was thrilled to be in Saudi Arabia for the first time, and was deeply moved by the positive attitude of the Saudi people.

“Even before I stepped in Saudi Arabia I traveled with Saudi Airlines, and even in Los Angeles when I arrived at the ticket counter everybody was smiling, and people haven’t stopped since.

“I did the panel and met people afterward and the fans have been amazing. It is a blessing to be here in Riyadh for the first time, I am used to doing comic cons but this being my first time in Saudi Arabia is amazing and hopefully, there will be more to come.”

Melinda Jean, a cosplayer, walked among the crowd with a magnificent cape, dressed up as the popular villain Hela from “Thor: Ragnarok.” She was extremely excited to be a part of the Super Con, she said.

“I am so excited — it is my first time being in Saudi Arabia. It is so surreal that we are here, and we get to do this. I will be sharing my tips and tricks on how to become a cosplayer and get into cosplay so I will be here all weekend.”


Saudi showjumpers ride for places in Tokyo Olympics team

Updated 16 December 2019

Saudi showjumpers ride for places in Tokyo Olympics team

  • International exposure key to Saudi riders’ success: Equestrian federation chief
  • Visitors enjoyed a fun and exciting atmosphere as riders gave their best performances on the field

RIYADH: Saudi showjumpers at this month’s Diriyah Equestrian Festival aren’t just riding to win — they are battling for places at next year’s Tokyo Olympics, the country’s equestrian chief said on Sunday.

“Saudi riders’ participation in international championships is very important,” said Prince Abdullah bin Fahd bin Abdullah, president of the Saudi Equestrian Federation.

“Coming in contact with international riders will provide them with what they need to achieve their ambitions, which we all know are very big. That is why Saudi riders always have remarkable presence on the international level — hard competitors to beat, like the young rider Waleed Al-Ghamdi, who came second in the first stage of the competition.

“We are waiting for the results of this championship to draft the program for the Tokyo Olympics. We have a good chance at winning but, in this sport one can never be sure until the end of the stage. We will always be sure of the self-confidence our riders have, which will be felt as they represent the Kingdom in any competition,” he added.

Prince Abdullah expressed his happiness at the start of the first stage of the International Show Jumping Championship as part of the Diriyah Equestrian Festival

“The success is due to God, the support the sport has from the wise leadership of Prince Abdul Aziz bin Turki Al-Faisal, chairman of the General Sports Authority (GSA)," he said

The festival — which concludes next weekend, Dec. 19-21 — is taking place at Al-Duhami Farm, the equestrian arena built by Saudi Olympic legend Ramzy Al-Duhami and his wife Sara Baban.

In addition to showjumping, the attractions include art and photography exhibitions, cultural activities and a range of cafes and restaurants.

Visitors enjoyed a fun and exciting atmosphere as riders gave their best performances on the field, showcasing their skills and talents.

Diriyah has always been a symbol of authenticity and culture, while entertainment came with its international sports activities characterized by their sophistication, strength and diversity.

Mohammed Al-Mudayfar, owner of the artistic incubator “Resin Art” taking part in the activities, said: “The exhibition aims at highlighting the Kingdom’s identity in line with the festival’s. By participating, I seek to revive the Kingdom’s culture and introduce it to the visitors.

'Resin Art' exhibition is part of the activities lined up during the two-week Diriyah Equestrian Festival. (Photo/Supplied)

“The exhibition includes 60 Saudi artworks. They received huge support so they can showcase them in a suitable manner, in line with this year’s fun and exciting activities,” he added, noting: “Featured handicrafts, paintings and sculptures are all up for sale.  

“We provide the necessary space and materials for any artist that wishes to showcase his work. Supporting young Saudis and talented ones in particular is a national duty that society should sense its importance especially when it is related to our heritage and traditions.”

The activities area had a part dedicated to kids that has educational and entertainment activities such as painting horse heads made of cork.

Another exhibition called “Objectives” managed by 24-year-old Lama Al-Thubaiti offered visitors a variety of jewelry and accessories that could be modified according to their requests. Al-Thubaiti works as a doctor for people with hearing disabilities and has been working to develop her brand for five years now.

“We are very happy with the visitors’ reaction and our presence here is remarkable as we get ready to open our headquarters soon,” she said.  

The activities area also featured a wide range of restaurants, Saudi and international cafes, a photography corner and cultural facilities such as Arabian and historic horse exhibition, engraving, henna and local artists.

Diriyah Equestrian Festival is taking place for the second year in a row to bring the international event to the Kingdom, reflect the traditional values of equestrianism according to European standards. The event will run for two weeks, providing participants with the chance to qualify to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and the World Championship.