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Iman Ben Chaibah, founder of Sail Publishing, a digital publishing house for online magazines and ebooks, and editor in chief of the Emirati Sail Magazine, an online magazine about community and culture written in English by Emirati columnists. Iman is a multi award winner in digital publishing, entrepreneurship, and literature. Iman has also completed the Leadership Strategies in Magazine Media Course in Yale University. Besides her work in publishing, she also lectures in Canadian University in Dubai.
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Interview in brief: Khaled Bin Hamad (KBH) is a manga artist, IPad artist, art specialist, and the author of Nasser’s Secrets comic book. He was also a columnist in Sail eMagazine. Join us as our editor in chief interviews him to get to know more about his journey and his new endeavors.
Sail eMagazine: Tell us a little about your old career.
KBH: I started working in IT department, but it was something that I really hated. Getting in IT was more of a society choice more than my choice. My job was so technical; I worked as the “Maximo” System Administrator for Finance and Purchasing. But then I moved into Sales and Marketing because I knew at some point I wanted to do my Masters in Marketing.
Sail eMagazine: Why did you choose Japan to study your masters in?
KBH: I believe life always comes to a full circle in the end. Japan was always a place I wanted to go to at some point in my life and spend at least a year there, but I didn’t plan for it. One day, I heard that the Japanese embassy are offering scholarships for post grads studies in Japan so I went to ask about it and was told that the final deadline was only 3 days away. I immediately started running around to get all the paper work done and filled the forms and everything else. So I applied and went to the interview. After finishing, the interviewer looked at me and said you are so lucky, because one hour before you submit the person we already chose cancelled! Everything happens for a reason. When stuff like that happens again and again you have to believe in something bigger than yourself planned for you.
Sail eMagazine: When did you start thinking about writing the comic?
KBH: I was always an artist before, I used to sketch oil paintings and such stuff, but back then I never saw it as a career, it had a dead end. But then when Freej by Mohammed Saeed Hareb came out, it kind of broke a lot of rules. Somehow, doing an animation became cool again. There is a potential to turn it into something bigger. So when I went to Japan, I knew I wanted to take additional classes in Japanese, animation, character design, storyboarding and so on.
Sail eMagazine: How did you pick up on manga?
KBH: What brought me back was actually one manga titled Vagabond by Takehiko Inoue. It’s such a beautiful and crazy story with a brilliant artwork! Every page is just a piece of art. And some of the sketches in Nasser’s Secret are actually inspired from it. I never thought that kind of art can be in manga, you can’t not be inspired by it.
Results of Google search on Vagabond’s artwork
Sail eMagazine: You came back after spending three years in Japan. What did you have in mind to do once you’re back?
KBH: I had Nasser’s Secrets as an idea in my mind. So I wrote a script and submitted it to some media production companies. They didn’t reply quickly; about a year or something later one of them took it up and is now collaborating with me to develop it to something bigger and expanding it in a new direction. I’ll be able to share more updates once it becomes more concrete.
Sail eMagazine: Is Nasser’s Secrets planned to be in English or Arabic?
KBH: I’m hoping for both. I don’t want to market it here only. It’s an international story with an Emirati culture. The story has some parts about telepathy, telekinesis and stuff like that. Some of the characters have been learning those powers. So the book will show the steps they followed to learn. I was thinking how would my mom react if I did something like that, like telepathy, telekinesis? The first thing she’ll think of is the devil. So one of the characters is so good at telekinesis that he can move things around without touching them and only through his mind. In one of the scenes, he’d be sleeping and he feels he’s suffocating, so he wakes up to see his mum doing bukhoor (burning scents) on top of his head to get the devil out of him
It’s stuff like that and how will the average Emirati react to certain things. I’m still at the phase now where I’m writing the whole characters profile and all that stuff.
Sail eMagazine: Do you believe in the processizing of book writing?
KBH: Absolutely. The book looks great in your mind but how can people know what’s in your mind? When it comes to a story; it’s all about the characters, and their interactions. They should actually be more interesting. They should not be all heroic and perfect. They should actually have flaws. We like the flaws in people. It allows us to relate to them.
Sail eMagazine: You said you were mentored by Mohamad Al Astad and Jalal Luqman, how so?
KBH: Jalal is more of a sempai – which is Japanese for honorable mentor-. He’s a mentor and I learnt so much from Jalal.
Sail eMagazine: How did the mentoring start?
KBH: I met him in one of my scuba diving sessions. I had no idea who he was at the time. But I got to know him there, we started talking and we got along really well. We became friends since then, and now, every time that I have something I want to ask when it comes to art, he always helps me.
Sail eMagazine: What about Mohamad Al Astad?
KBH: He was my teacher when it comes to art. I heard about him when I first got into art, he was and still is one of the best. I went to his office and we talked about art and he offered I come try out their drawing workshops at anytime, and I did. He was such a great teacher. One time he got me a fish. An actual fish of the ugly ones not the pretty ones, and he made me draw it up! He has an attention to details and smaller things. He lets you go with your imagination. I’m grateful for what he did, and I’m proud to have learned from him.
Sail eMagazine: Did you start your new company yet?
KBH: Yes, we are now licensed and in the construction phase, building up the office and so on. The company is named “Moving Reflection” Productions. You have to see the logo to understand what I mean.
Moving Reflection Productions’ Logo
Sail eMagazine: Any advice you’d like to pass on to our readers?
KBH: When people are at a certain level, they always want you to stay the same as they are. There are few people, the close friends, who want you to be better than them. People will always drag you down. So you have to at some point trim the fat. Sadly, it’s painful and annoying but you’d be better off aligning yourself with people who believe in your worth rather than with people who are against you and will keep pushing you down.