Shehab Ahmed has had an interest in anime art since childhood. Some of his fondest memories growing up involved the family gathering around the television watching popular cartoons.
The interest has grown into a lifelong passion for the Emirati. “We grew up watching anime, which was originally dubbed into Arabic from Japanese,” the Abu Dhabi resident says. “Such anime was broadcast on local and Arabic TV channels, and as I grew up, I started watching original Japanese anime with English or Arabic subtitles.”
Several factors developed his interest. “The most important for me is the art and drawing, which is different from those of other countries,” he says.
Ahmed, who works for the Abu Dhabi Government, has set up a Facebook group called Seconds of Anime, which he hopes he will be able to develop into a business. He currently owns about 1,400 anime artworks.
“Collecting was a hobby. I came to realise this was an expensive hobby and found out there was a market for it,” he says. “Many people around the world value this art. As my collection grew, it became time to show the crowd some original pieces of our childhood memories.”
Ahmed displayed some of his collection last month at Yas Mall. “It was a positive collaboration that may enable us to present it again in the future,” he says. “The exhibition visitors were impressed. Some requested for me to present the same exhibition in other cities in the UAE and other GCC countries.”
While Ahmed, 40, isn’t an artist himself, he’s proud of the fact that he has the ability to come up with creative ideas that can be turned into reality.
Of all the 1,400 artworks, he has one particular favourite. “The most prized item I have is the cel [a transparent sheet on which objects are drawn or painted for traditional, hand-drawn animation] of the character Duke Fleed from the anime Grendizer, which was produced in 1975. Its value is about Dh57,000.”
Source: art & life