Dubai Superheroes: Little Old Grannies Who Wear Veils

From the NYT:

“Freej,” which swiftly became one of the most popular shows in the United Arab Emirates when it had its premiere here three years ago, is on a hiatus this Ramadan season, a result of the declining economy and, Mr. Harib says, his exhaustion after three grueling production cycles. In its place a new series of three-minute episodes starring the characters is being shown on local television.

Mr. Harib’s animated aspirations took shape a decade ago when he studied at Northeastern University in Boston, where his peers downloaded “South Park” episodes in their dormitories. He recognized that his native emirate lacked homegrown characters and superheroes.

“We don’t come from a land that has a lot of role models, except for C.E.O.’s and sheiks,” he said in an interview at his loft studio near the man-made island called Palm Jumeirah.

At Northeastern Mr. Harib started to sketch his first character, later named Um Saeed, a wise, stubby lady in red who often leads the grandmas’ conversations. The cartoon he envisioned would extol grandmas as role models. Mr. Harib said that he imagined that the veil that partly covered a woman’s face would be the “costume of the superhero.”