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This Local Artist has Created a Female Emirati Superhero

Muslim superhero Ms. Marvel may be rumored to be hitting screens one day in the future, but it turns out we also have a female superhero based a little closer to home. While Marvel’s equivalent, Kamala Khan, is the daughter of Pakistani immigrants and hails from New Jersey, one local artist has devised a character that reflects the culture of the UAE.

Director and comic artist Fatma Almheiri is the creator of Emara, a “super cool” superhero who fights crimes on the busy, bustling streets of the Emirates. “Emara is the superhero I wanted growing up that I didn’t get to have,” the artist told CNN’s Inside The Middle East this week. “I think the world is thirsty for an Arab superhero and I think we need to quench that thirst fast.” The Emirati creative revealed she grew up watching a lot of cartoons in Dubai, but found them lacking representation of women like herself. Almheiri also wants to tackle misrepresentation of the UAE and Muslim women in her work, telling CNN: “I made sure to give Emara little bits and pieces of how life is here.”

Her creation wears long pants, a tunic, gloves, and a hijab, which Almheiri says was a conscious choice. “I wanted Emara to dress modestly because I think that specific character, especially as a main character, is missing,” she told the broadcaster. “There are no hijabi main characters, especially not in a superhero cartoon or comic.” The 24-year-old artist often shares snippets of her work, including the adventures of Emara, on her Instagram page, and was working on creating an animated series in 2016, according to The National.

Ms Marvel, on the other hand, could be hitting cinema screens in the next few years, according to studio boss Kevin Feige. The president of Marvel Studios told the BBC earlier this year that “Ms. Marvel… is definitely sort of in the works”. “We have plans for that once we’ve introduced Captain Marvel to the world,” he added. Making her comic book series debut in 2014, Ms. Marvel’s story arc revolves around coming of age, dealing with society, her culture, parents, and maintaining her Muslim identity, all while balancing her shape-shifting super powers.

However, Almheiri says that while Ms Marvel is a great step forward, she hopes the comic book giant will continue to increase its representation. “If I could send Marvel a message, [it would be] great job with Ms. Marvel but can we also have an Arab superhero preferably a woman,” she told CNN. “I’ll take whatever you give me, but we’d love an Arab superhero character, please.”

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