Saudi Arabia's first official Japanimation event 「SAUDI ANIME EXPO 2019」, an event where Japanese anime content and anisong singers met was held in a special venue in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia 「Riyadh Front Expo Land Hall 3/4」 from Nov.14 ~ 16. There were around 37,800 visitors in just three days, and the event ended with great success.

「SAUDI ANIME EXPO 2019」 was held as part of the 「Rihyadh Season」in which Saudi Arabia aims to break away from an oil-dependent economy and revitalizes its entertainment industry. This is the first “Japanimation event” organized by the Kingdom's government to spread Japanese animation through various exhibitions, experience contents, and stage performances.

The opening ceremony starts off with the appearance of Faisal Bafarat, CEO of the General Entertainment Authority of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Uemura Tsukasa, Ambassador from the Japanese Embassy in Saudi Arabia, Maher Mosley who handled the selection of contents and overall production for this event, singer Sami Clark, MBC director Giad Hamza, manga artist Takahashi Yoichi, known as the author of 『Captain Tsubasa』, singer Sasaki Isao, singer Mizuki Ichirou, Dentsu Content Business/Design/Center senior/producer Ishiwatari Shoichirou.
He stated he was really grateful to be able to host an event specializing in Japanese anime, which gave him an expectation that the cultural exchange between the two countries would deepen through Japanese anime. Furthermore, the popular anime『Captain Tsubasa』was announced to have a new series and a signing ceremony between Faisal Bafarat and Takahashi Yoichi was held on stage.

In the 「Main Stage Area」, various content shows such as live performances and talk shows of popular anisong singers were held over the course of three days.
On the 1st day, 「☆ Taku Takahashi (m-flo,」, who is also active as an anime music producer, and 「Linked Horizon」, who performed the theme song for a Japanese TV anime that was popular in Saudia Arabia, made their appearances.
On the 2nd day, 「DJ MarGenal」, who is active at various famous anime events, and 「FLOW」, who performed the main theme song for many TV anime, while on the 3rd day, 「DJ Kazu」, an anime DJ who is active in local and international events centering Asia along with the legends of Japanese and Saudi Arabian anisongs 「Sasaki Isao」,「Mizuki Ichirou」, 「Sami Clark」 and others stood on stage, attracting the audience.

On the other stage, a show by the interactive performance group named 「White A」, which continues to pursue a performance that fuses 「electronic music」, 「video」 and 「human」, was held for two days.
In addition, Saudi Arabia's first hero show 「ULTRAMAN LIVE in SAUDI 2019」, talk show 「Arab Voice Acting Past vs Present」 by famous Arabic voice actors, and an e-sports event where Japanese and Saudi Arabian champions of the game 『Tekken 7』 faced each other in the 「TEKKEN7 JAPAN VS SAUDI ARABIA TAG BATTLE」 were held, which had livened up the event.

And on the cosplay stage, a total of four stage contests were held which were the 「Cosplay Competition for Women」, 「Cosplay Guest Performance」where cosplayers from Japan, China and Saudi Arabia have participated in, 「Cosplay Competition for Saudi Men」 and the 「World Cosplay Summit Saudi Arabia National Team Selection」 where the winners could get a travel ticket to Japan.
In the women-only competition, a historical event happened whereby a local woman challenges cosplay by taking off her “Abaya”, and poses in front of the audience.

Furthermore, the 「ONE PIECE Talk Show」 was held on the first day, while the 「Captain Tsubasa Talk Show」 was held on the second day. In particular, when Takahashi Yoichi entered the 「Captain Tsubasa Talk Show」, many fans brought in illustrations of the main character of Captain Tsubasa, Oozora Tsubasa for him to sign.

A total of 41 Japanese companies participated in the 「Exhibition Area」, exhibiting various anime-related exhibits including giant balloons and figures. The 「Cosplay Area」is a space where fans can feels like they're in a Japanese anime world, with costumes such as school bags, uniforms, and yukata to wear along with image illustrations of festivals, classrooms, and cherry blossoms as backgrounds allowing fans to experience Japanese culture.

The 「Movie Theater Area」 where anime fans can watch anime in theaters was a great success as the venues were all packed. There were long lines in the 「Cafe Area」 as well where Japanese gourmets such as ramen, sushi rolls and fried chicken were sold.

「SAUDI ANIME EXPO」 will continue to spread Japanese animation throughout Saudi Arabia through events like in hopes of boosting the entertainment industry.

[Reprinted article from Anime!Anime!Biz/]