An Al Noor Mosque Surrounded with City Buildings at Night
An Al Noor Mosque Surrounded with City Buildings at Night - Al Sharjah, Sharjah, United Arab Emirates Abid Bin Nazar/

Sharjah Animation Conference (SAC), held at Expo Centre Sharjah on Sunday, provided opportunities for broadcasters, producers, and distributors to collaborate and discuss the future of animation in the Middle East.

The panel discussed the future of animation under the theme of "Cross-cultural collaboration: Shaping the future of Middle-Eastern animation" during an event where Rai Kids, Spacetoon, Banijay Kids & Family, and Hasbro representatives shared their experiences while discussing the challenges and opportunities.

Olivier Dumont, President of Hasbro Entertainment, responsible for animated cartoons like Peppa Pig and My Little Pony, noted that "it is in our DNA to co-produce in the world of animation," WAM reported.

He explained that the entertainment company uses data and insights in various ways to learn about the performance, especially for digital content like YouTube series. Dumont added that this helps the company not only test the developed project but also create new concepts and characters. Moreover, it helps them to avoid making big mistakes.

"If the character is not resonating with the audience, we better know early on rather than after spending $10 million producing a season," he said, explaining that Peppa Pig - one of the most successful characters - is popular with preschoolers because this character shows how to take big risks.

Benoit Di Sabatino, CEO of Banijay Kids & Family, spoke about successful projects like Casper and Yellow Yeti and said, "For me, cultural appropriation is very important. Now that the culture is global, our responsibility as producers is to ensure that we are not speaking for others."

Luca Milano, RAI Radiotelevisione Italiana's manager, said animation has great potential compared to other genres. He said that the company aims to create not only a line of communication but also collaboration and distribution, especially with schools and other institutions that work with kids.

"What we think is important is to keep a plurality of production and after the arrival of platforms like Netflix, there is a more decentralized way of production now," he added.

Shinichiro Inoue, Senior Advisor and Executive Fellow of Kadokawa and Vice President of the Anime Tourism Association of Japan, recalled how the company evolved from making mystery novels to live-action movies.

"Anime has become more popular abroad and so there is an increase in collaborations. The charm of anime is that you can't say what nationality the characters are," Inoue said, adding, "The decline in the labor force in Japan has meant more international collaborations."

Kamel Weiss, Spacetoon's Director of Strategy Business Development Business & Content Director, noted that his company is looking for different partners for producing content to maintain the sustainability of production.