Having left my life as a geek culture blogger and video game reviewer back in the States when I left to take my current job, I was totally stoked to discover that there were actually enough geeks in Dubai to necessitate its own geek convention. I was a repeat visitor for many years to the original comic-con held yearly in San Diego, and I of course have been missing out the last two years overseas. Being the first of its kind, however, it was small and the guest list was limited, but hey, everything has to start somewhere, right?
The MEFCC was held on Friday and Saturday, April 20-21. I realize this entry comes months after the fact, but we already know what’s been delaying me. I had to fly on the 21st, so I only spent a few hours wandering around the convention floor on the 20th. I waited for a friend to come with, and she had been working in the morning so we went in the afternoon. The only guest I was interested in was Laurie Holden (Andrea from The Walking Dead TV series) but I’d missed her signing earlier in the day. My friend, upon making plans for the con, had asked, “OMG what are you going to dress up as?!” and even with my history of cosplaying (costume-play – a term used in Japan for dressing up as anime and video game characters) and costuming at many events in the past, I thought, “Noooo way am I dressing up here.” I did, however, regret a last minute change of mind when I was visiting home back in March. I had a lovely custom made retro pinup dress my ma and I had made out of vintage Transformers bedsheets that would have been perfect, but I panicked, thinking my bags were overweight and pulled it out. Really, what would it have weighed? Less than 1 pound? Anyway, instead I donned my favorite zombie T-Shirt (courtesy of AquaRed, a local geek artist from my hometown) and met up with my friend in her adorable “warrior” outfit – “I’ll just say I’m a female Thor”, she said.
The venue was quite small – it was located near the yacht club next to a beach bar I frequent (and you could definitely differentiate between the patrons of each facility) but I was surprised to see the place packed and crawling with cosplayers. I was shocked and amazed to see how comics and geek culture really affects everyone around the world. Granted, Dubai is made up of a good number of expats, but glad to see there are still many of them who can proudly call themselves a geek.
With only a few hours at our disposal, having arrived late and me having an early flight in the morning, we didn’t get to do much but roam the convention floors, check out some of the activities, and look around Artist’s Alley. My friend got pulled up onstage to play a game hosted by the local Virgin radio station, and we perused the various toys and books for sale. Most of the products for sale were a bit overpriced – as is most everything in Dubai compared to the US so I left empty handed. We did discover a local manga, called Adam 101, produced by Comic Pro, LLC, a company that started as a small manga lovers fan club. It’s the first manga to be produced in both local language and English, and focuses on a half American, half Emirati student who starts his new life at the American University Dubai. Even more amazing, most of the artists are female – and there were a few at the booth doing signings and sketches. We couldn’t stay for a sketch but I picked up a copy for myself and am interested to see where the storyline goes from here. In addition to the local manga, the local artists here are thriving and it was really great to see many of them female.
Unfortunately, I couldn’t stick around to watch the costume contest, but based on what was walking around the convention floor already I was bummed to have to miss it. Famous Filipina cosplayer Alodia Gosiengfiao was in attendance as a guest, and it seemed like a lot of the attendees were keen to impress her.
And like every good nerd convention, it included a gaming zone featuring electronic, tabletop and card gaming. Who knew the middle east harbored enough of a variety of nerds and geeks to produce an all-round geeky convention to please all the geeky masses? Unfortunately, due to my early wake up call the next morning, I had to skip the rest of the evening, leaving with only my locally produced manga and a few key contacts, and of course, missed out on a swell afterparty hosted at one of Dubai’s newest and hottest clubs, Cirque Du Soir. But I’m definitely looking forward to MEFCC 2013, and who knows, I may have a few new costumes whipped up by then..