A unique partnership between a Beirut university and an construction magnate is designed to bring new attention to the long and interesting tradition of comics in the Middle East.
According to Al-Fanar Media, the American University of Beirut and businessman Mu'taz Sawwaf are working to create a coordinated academic program focused on comics, along with an annual conference, awards ceremony and an archive of Arab comic art.
“The Arab world is a wonderfully rich area, with a whole cultural heritage that has not been explored and deserves to be studied,” says Lina Ghaibeh, who will be directing the partnership initiative. “There have been [extensive] studies of comics in the U.S. and Europe, even the Far East; yet Arab comics have not been touched. “
Although Arab countries have long imported and translated American and European comics, original comics have been produced in the Middle East going as far back as 1923's Al Awlad.
The Al-Fanar Media article offers a great starting point to read about the history of Arab comics and this partnership.