Comic Books Magazine

Life As A Manga Fan In The United Arab Emirates

Posted on the 17 September 2014 by Kaminomi @OrganizationASG

Life as a manga fan in the UAE

So I ended up writing an article about why it’s worth it to buy manga. While attempting to do research into it, I admit I was looking into resources that did buy manga that didn’t live in the US. You can make the case I did a poor job! I only ended up getting in touch with people I already knew, and in the end, I only got one person who doesn’t live here to take part. So I still got a ways to go in doing research for articles like that.

But I did say I got one. And well, as always, I’m always curious.

Noura is a resident in the United Arab Emirates. She moved back there in 2000 after living in Florida during her childhood. However, she soon got herself interested in manga in 2004 and that was when she started collecting, and hasn’t stopped since.

Well, her tastes have changed though.

“I used to be into shoujo and romance only and never imagined myself reading shounen manga but now I like less romance,” she said. It doesn’t mean she’s not into shoujo anymore. She’s just more selective with the titles she’s chosen. “Typical romance with predictable endings do not do it for me anymore.”

But she’s still collecting and it doesn’t look like that’s going to end anytime soon. Even despite some restrictions — as outlined in the Manga Bookshelf article, some manga has been banned — she still continues. I ended up chatting with her a few weeks ago about manga and life as a manga fan in the UAE.

Organization ASG: Can you explain a bit about your background and how’s life in the UAE?

Noura: Well I have been living here since 2000. Before that I had been in the US, but we moved back to the UAE since my father, he is from the UAE, so we went back there.

Life over here is good. I like it but summers here are really really hot! This is my main problem here! But other than that it’s good, it’s cool. There’s a lot of foreigners here, Europeans, Asians, Americans–

OASG: Oh, so it’s pretty diverse.

Noura: Yeah. And it’s a lively country I would say.

OASG: Since you’ve lived in the UAE since 2000, how did you learn about anime and manga?

Noura: At the beginning I knew about anime. I had been into it since I was a kid. But what really got me into it was Ranma ½. My brother’s friend lent me his VHS back in the days and I really liked Ranma. So since then I wanted to watch more anime. So Ranma ½ was my first step into the anime world.

OASG: This took place in the UAE correct?

Noura: Yes, in the UAE.

OASG: What was the main reason, since you liked Ranma ½, you started to like that medium, and you started to get into both anime and manga?

Noura: I didn’t really start right after Ranma ½ because I only watched 7 episodes then, but then after maybe 3 years then I started to buy anime DVDs but not manga yet. Manga I started a bit later because I didn’t know much about it. I started buying Yuu Watase’s works, Alice 19th and another of her works, then Peach Girl, and I slowly got more and more into manga. And now I have a huge collection.

OASG: …Well how big is the collection?

Noura: …Very big! *laughs* But I’m starting to cut down a little because there are some titles I don’t really want to collect. Those titles I’d rather buy the ebooks for.

OASG: Would they be like long series you’d tend to buy?

Noura: Not necessarily! Titles that I’m not really that into. I’d want to read it but not necessarily want to buy the books. There are some titles like that for me.

OASG: How would you say the market is for manga in your country?

Noura: Actually Kinokuniya that sells manga here in Dubai. There’s also Borders but that closed in the US, but we have a Borders here.

OASG: Interesting. I actually didn’t know Borders was still around elsewhere!

Noura: Yeah. But they don’t really sell manga. Last time I went there they had Del Rey titles which are already out of print, but they don’t get new titles. Maybe if you special order they might get for you, but they don’t put it on the shelf they don’t get any manga. But Kinokuniya they have a huge selection of manga.

People here, they buy, but not a lot of people my age, the younger generation, they buy.

OASG: Hmm! The younger generation’s buying manga. *laughs*

Noura: Yes. Why, is it weird?

OASG: Well no, it’s just that over here at least, it might just be the other way around since most young people are in debt because of school/college, and there are older people that are in their 30’s I guess, they have jobs, but the current manga market doesn’t have a lot of titles for them. That’s why I’m like I think it’s kind of weird that the younger generation is purchasing manga.

Noura: For example for me I’m in my 30’s but I don’t really see that many people near my age buy manga. They are, but they’re very few! Most that are see are younger than me, in their’s 20’s, beginning of 20’s, so sometimes I even wonder if I’m one of the very few who read manga at this age I don’t know! *laughs*

I’ve mentioned this before but some titles are banned here like Boys Love, Hentai, Yuri…there are some shounen-ai but these are the ones that are not graphic, that don’t have love scenes, etc. But titles that have sex scenes, love scenes they usually ban.

OASG: And this is because of the country’s culture correct?

Noura: Yes. You know religion, culture, yeah. And I’m sure there are a lot of parents here that don’t want their kids to be exposed to such stuff, because they are more conservative.

OASG: What would you say has been the biggest surprise to you about the manga industry nowadays?

Noura: Well, for one I’m happy they’re licensing light novels now because I’m a big fan of LN, so I’m happy they’re bringing more in English. And now I think more people are buying more and more manga right? Compared to before?

OASG: Uh…I would say that.

Noura: I noticed this, even here, before I didn’t see people buy too much manga but now more people are buying which is good for the manga market in order to publish and license more good titles. But most of all I’m happy for LN’s, I’m a very big fan.

OASG: How would you say the future looks like for manga in general, and the future of manga for the UAE in the next couple years?

Noura: Well manga is popular over here. Again, there is some restrictions on some titles, even for example if they bring a certain title there are some volumes that they ban due to content, which makes some customers unhappy. But I think here it’s very popular, really. Arabs, they buy manga too much, we have people from the neighboring countries, they come specifically to Dubai to buy manga. I think it’s gonna rise even more.

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Life As A Manga Fan In The United Arab Emirates


Justin is the founder of Organization Anti-Social Geniuses. Anime & manga fan that likes to blog about anime and manga, is addicted to sports, and weak to crossovers. You can follow Justin on Twitter @Kami_nomi.
Life As A Manga Fan In The United Arab Emirates

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