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13 July 2024

Sultan Al Qasimi witnesses opening of Sharjah Animation Conference, a first-of-its-kind event in the Middle East

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By E247

His Highness Sheikh Dr. Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, Member of the Supreme Council and Ruler of Sharjah opened the debut edition of the Sharjah Animation Conference (SAC) on Wednesday in the presence of HH Sheikh Sultan bin Ahmed Al Qasimi, Deputy Ruler of Sharjah. The first-of-its-kind event in the region, SAC’s packed programme is being led by global industry leaders until May 5 in Expo Centre Sharjah, on the sidelines of the 14th annual edition of the Sharjah Children's Reading Festival (SCRF), and is organised by the Sharjah Book Authority (SBA).

His Highness was briefed on the event’s highlights while touring the conference’s events and workshop areas, which will be occupied by 18 internationally renowned creatives in the sector during the three-day event, including artists, technicians, creators, and producers. 

During the tour, the Sharjah Ruler was introduced to the cutting-edge tools and resources and leading guidance by top industry professionals that will be available to both amateurs and professionals during the conference, enabling them to broaden their horizons across the fields of comics and ‘manga’, filmmaking, digital artwork, and learn about the latest in the world of animation.

During her opening ceremony keynote, Khoula Al Mujaini, Executive Director of SAC, said: "Benefitted by the vision and unlimited support of His Highness Sheikh Dr. Sultan Al Qasimi, Sharjah takes a new step in its cultural journey with the aim of tapping into creative opportunities, particularly in Arabic content, not yet discovered by the region. This conference is a new creative platform in Sharjah that will strengthen the foundations of the animation industry and allied sectors of publishing, digital, film and comic producers that inspire it.”

She added, "Through SAC, we are also enabling stronger networking and collaboration between producers, animators and publishers as well as other content creators in the region and across the globe, especially with the significant growth since the beginning of the third millennium in the animation industry around the world. We believe this is the right move, given that the creative industries market reached US$394 billion in 2022, and is expected to continue to grow to be valued at US$580 billion by 2030.”

Pietro Pinetti, SAC Artistic Director noted: “Animation is much more than just cartoons and entertainment. It is a creative art form that has the power to inspire and bring people together. Innovation is the driving force behind animation, and it is our duty to push the boundaries and explore new frontiers. We must continue to strive for excellence and seek out new opportunities to collaborate and create. The Sharjah Animation Conference is one such opportunity, bringing together artists, filmmakers, and industry leaders from around the world to exchange ideas and showcase their work”.

As we embark on this new journey, we are proud to be part of the growing animation community in the Middle East. We believe that this conference will contribute to the cultural growth of the UAE and strengthen ties with Europe and Italy in particular,” he added. 

During the opening ceremony, His Highness watched a performance by the 60-member Florence Pops Orchestra titled ‘Notes for Dreaming’, which featured masterpieces from the legendary Ghibli and Walt Disney Studios. 

Organised by the Sharjah Book Authority (SBA) in partnership with Italy's Bergamo Animation Days (BAD) festival, the 3-day event includes a comprehensive agenda of seminars, workshops, masterclasses, and panel discussions covering various aspects of the sector. It also features film screenings and meetings with industry stars, such as John Nevarez; a renowned figure in the animation industry with over 25 years of experience at animation giants like Disney, Pixar and Sony Pictures Animation; Sandro Cleuzo, an Annie Award-winning 2D animator and character designer, known for such works as Mary Poppins Returns, The Iron Giant, Fantasia 2000 and Tarzan; and Japanese Takahiro Yoshimatsu, widely considered one of the best anime directors in the world, most famously known for Dragon Ball Z, Overlord, Vampire Hunter D, and Hunter X Hunter.

SAC provides a platform for networking and exchange between publishers and producers to facilitate buying and selling production and publishing rights. It targets professionals and youth interested in animation to support the development of the children's book illustration sector and produce animated films in the UAE and the Arab region.