Fans flock to Abu Dhabi’s Middle East Film & Comic Con for celebration of pop culture

From elaborate Boba Fett costumes to simple face paintings, pop culture fans are in the capital for Middle East Film & Comic Con.

One of the biggest draws for many is the opportunity to meet a celebrity from the world of film, television, anime or gaming.

The biggest names at Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre this year are actor Oscar Isaac, whose roles include Poe Dameron in the Star Wars films as well as Moon Knight in the Marvel show, and Troy Baker, who provided the voice of Joel Miller in The Last of Us games.

Other celebrities include Sophia Di Martino, Inaki Godoy, James and Oliver Phelps, Temuera Morrison and Japanese voice actor Show Hayami.

One Piece star Godoy met crowds on the first day, as fans of the Japanese anime and its Netflix live-action adaptation arrived in droves to take a picture with him.

The convention returned to Abu Dhabi for a third year after previously being held in Dubai.

Pop-ups for collectors also set up shop there, selling items such as Funko pop figures and signed prints from comic book artists.

A large section of the convention is taken up by the Artist Alley, which allows local and regional artists to showcase and sell their works.

Emirati artist Aisha Taha Al Fahim is introducing visitors to her book Kashta. It is an interactive experience that invites guests to scratch each page with a coin revealing a quest that sends them around the capital. Once the destination in the quest is reached, a picture is taken with specific instructions about where and how to take it before placing it on the page.

In the book, the artist invites anyone who buys it to use it as both an adventure and a guidebook to explore the most interesting parts of the city. There are also versions of for Dubai and Sharjah.

Another popular aspect of comic cons are cosplay, with no expense spared for many dressing up as their favourite characters. People dressed up as superheroes such as Loki and Batman while one man was particularly creative cosplaying as the pirate painting from SpongeBob SquarePants.

One of the more eye-catching stands is the SuperMuseum: America which offers a virtual reality experience through Web3 technology. The experience allows users to enter a virtual world that transports them to museums in the US, as well as other locations like the Grand Canyon or even Mars.

The immersive experience is sponsored by the US Embassy in Abu Dhabi with Company E and Canadian company Mirage.

Speaking to The National, Robin Solomon, counsellor for public affairs at the embassy, said: “The reason we wanted to do this is because we recognised that Web3 is not just about gaming.”

“Web3 is the communications and engagement platform of the future and we wanted to be at the front end of designing a gathering place like a museum that we go to in the city.”

Solomon said the Abu Dhabi event is the ideal location to showcase the VR experience.

“It’s a very interesting way of delivering that information. Games are culture, there’s not something that divides the audience here at comic con who are crazy about games, who are crazy about anime, who are crazy about manga, who are crazy about superheroes,” she said.

“All of these are elements of culture.”

Middle East Film & Comic Con at Adnec runs until Sunday; more information is available at www.mefcc.com

Updated: February 10, 2024, 6:29 AM

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