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Pokémon in the Arab world

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Pokémon in the Arab world
Pokemon logo Arabic.png
The Arab world Flag.png
Flag of the Arab league
Language Arabic
Continent Asia and Africa

The Pokémon franchise first reached the Arab world in late 2000, with the first broadcast of EP001 in Arabic language on MBC Channel.

The word Pokémon is written as بوكيمون and pluralised as بوكيمونات. Pokémon are always referred to as either male or female.

While almost all characters, Pokémon, and most of the locations have kept their English names in the Arabic version, some objects in the franchise received Arabic names. The Poké Ball, for example, has been dubbed as كرة البوكي (Kurt Al-Poké), and the Poké Flute received the name مزمار البوكي (Mizmar Al-Poké) and so on. One of the Arabic names that are different from the English dub is Team Rocket, which has been translated as: عصابة الرداء الأبيض 'isabat Ar-Redda Al-Abiadh. Also, the name of Pallet Town got changed to قرية شورباك 'Qaryat Shoreback which sounds interestingly akin to the Cantonese name of the town 純白鎮.

Controversy

In 2001, the Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia, who is the highest religious authority in the kingdom, issued a fatwā banning the Pokémon franchise, claiming it encourages gambling and promotes Zionism. High Muslim authorities in Qatar and Egypt then joined the ban. As this happened during the second Intifada, a Jordanian newspaper printed a caricature of Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon sitting in a tank and laughing at an Arab man chasing a Pokémon. This is meant to convey that Arabs are distracted from their conflict with the Israelis by popular franchises, with Pokémon as an example of such "distractions."

Despite the initial banning, which quickly wiped away Pokémon merchandise (especially the card game) from markets in Saudi Arabia, Pokémon video games quickly returned to be sold normally, but under much less demand from local consumers. Some Pokémon merchandise such as the Expedition Base Set reappeared in stores a few years later, but newer sets were never brought. Generation III and Generation IV games seem completely unaffected by the ban.

A fatwā was also issued in the U.A.E. emirate of Dubai, however no bans officially occurred.[1] Although the U.A.E. takes its Islamic identity seriously like most Arab states, actions based solely on fatwā would however violate its federal constitution. Regardless of this, the local distributors no longer import Pokémon cards by choice.

Pokémon anime

Pokémon airs or has aired in the following countries: Algeria, Bahrain, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Oman, Palestinian National Authority, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates, Western Sahara, and Yemen.

Country Channels aired
Algeria MBC, Spacetoon and TRT
Bahrain MBC and Spacetoon
Egypt MBC and Spacetoon
Iraq MBC and Spacetoon
Jordan MBC, Spacetoon and New TV
Kuwait MBC and Spacetoon
Lebanon MBC, Spacetoon and New TV
Libya MBC, Spacetoon and TRT
Morocco MBC, Spacetoon and TRT
Oman MBC and Spacetoon
Palestinian National Authority MBC, Spacetoon and New TV
Qatar MBC, Spacetoon, TRT and New TV
Saudi Arabia MBC, Spacetoon, TRT and New TV
Sudan MBC and Spacetoon
Syria MBC, Spacetoon and New TV
Tunisia MBC, Spacetoon and TRT
United Arab Emirates MBC, Spacetoon, TRT and New TV
Western Sahara TRT
Yemen MBC and Spacetoon

The Pokémon anime was originally dubbed to Arabic by Syria-based Venus Corporation (مركز الزهرة, Markaz Az-Zuhra), but they had since ceased production due to the controversy in 2001. After that Lebanon-based Super M Productions continued dubbing the anime. In the first year the anime was aired exclusively on Middle East Broadcasting Center (MBC), a channel broadcasting from Dubai in the United Arab Emirates, but after the end of the first season, it spread rapidly to other channels. It was aired mainly in MBC, Spacetoon (also broadcasted from Dubai), Tunisian Radio and Television (TRT), and New TV (broadcasting from Lebanon). The total number of Arabic episodes so far is 366 episodes.

As of the 2010s, none of the Arabic-language TV stations in any country is airing or re-running the Arabic dub of the Pokémon anime, most likely to waned audience interest, and the fact the dubbing production has long been discontinued (circa 2005) for reasons unknown. All forms of home video releases are also virtually non-existent in the Middle Eastern market, despite the fact that Region 2 DVDs can be imported, usually from the United Kingdom, should any production lack a licensed local distributor. However, there is currently at least one TV channel that airs the Pokémon anime in the local region with newer episodes, albeit only in English: Subscription-based channel Disney XD, as provided by OSN for the region. This broadcast of the anime series is not well-known though, most likely due, if not for language barrier, then to the relatively low participation of the expensive subscription TV model in the region overall. Regardless, Disney XD's airing of the anime is not officially recognised for the MENA region specifically.

As most global internet savvy users do, people in the region can have access to the anime via alternative means: Using unconventional methods such as torrenting episodes, or dubious methods such as accessing the official Pokémon TV service either via website or app since it is not region-restricted, unlike most similar video streaming services. The former method is very common overall since many of the Arab states are lenient on pirated content, not due to lack of related laws, but more likely due to lack of enforcement.

Cast and crew

Venus Corporation

Ash Ketchum was voiced by Buthaina Shia (بثينة شيا), Misty was voiced by Majd Zhazha (مجد ظاظا), and Rafat Pazo (رأفت بازو) provides the voice of Brock.

For Team Rocket, James has been voiced by Ziad Rifaee (زياد الرفاعي), and Jessie has been voiced by Fatima Saad (فاطمة سعد), and finally Meowth was voiced by Adel Abu Hassoun (عادل أبو حسون).

Professor Oak is voiced by Marwan Farhat (مروان فرحات). Other notable voice actors in the Arabic dub include Amaal Saad Adin (امال سعد الدين) as Nurse Joy and Fadwa Suleiman (فدوى سليمان) as Officer Jenny.

Super M Productions

050Diglett.png This section is incomplete.
Please feel free to edit this section to add missing information and complete it.

Pokémon Live! in Dubai

Despite ending its run in January 2001 in the United States, Pokémon Live! was invited to perform on an open stage in Al Mamzar Park, Dubai, U.A.E. in the duration of the whole month of March that same year, coinciding with the annual Dubai Shopping Festival.[2] Whilst the musical was mostly identical to its performance elsewhere, the female actors had a slight change to their wardrobe which covered their exposed abdomens and thighs, likely to avoid sensitivity issues with a mostly Islamic audience. Since the musical featured the same cast from its American run, it was performed solely in English. The musical, albeit received very positively by its audience, ended its run just days before the 2001 controversies began in the region overall.

Pokémon merchandise

After the Pokémon anime started airing in the Arabic language, it became one of the most popular anime series in the Arab world. Therefore, the demand for Pokémon-related merchandise among Arab children was high. Thus, several video game retailers began to sell a wide variety of Pokémon merchandise as they were best sold. Additionally, many restaurants offered promotional toys with their meals, such as Burger King in 2000. Due to the controversy in 2001, however, a lot of the merchandise was withdrawn from the main retail shops. After the controversy subsided, many game stores started selling Pokémon goods again without incident.

As of the 2010s, various distributors imported certain official Pokémon merchandise from either Europe or North America, such as Toys "R" Us outlets selling Poké Dolls and other kinds of toys. Many high-end bookstore chains, especially those that rely heavily on imported materials, may sell an assorted variety of books and magazines. For example, a Kinokuniya outlet situated in The Dubai Mall (the sole Kinokuniya outlet in the entire region), which is known to sell large volumes of varied stock, has been retailing children's magazines, video game guides, game books, film novelizations, as well as most of the Pokémon manga series, available in both English and Japanese, with the latter being distributed exclusively via this store.

In early 2013, Active Gulf, Nintendo's officially licensed distributor in the Middle East, have collaborated with their retail partners to locally sell authentic packs for the Pokémon Battle Disc Game.[3]

Many smaller toy and variety stores found in the grey market may often sell unlicensed and counterfeit products, with many of them imported from China. It is also possible to find pirated trading card packs, but in much smaller volumes than when initially released, as in prior to the 2001 controversies. Overall, the current legal status of the official trading card game itself remains vague in any case.


References

  1. Dubai scholars declare Pokemon unislamic - Gulfnews
  2. Young and old enjoy Pokemon - Gulfnews
  3. Active Gulf announcing on their official Facebook page about the availability of the Pokémon Battle Disc Game
The Pokémon franchise around the world
The Americas: BrazilCanadaLatin AmericaUnited States
Asia: Greater ChinaIndonesiaMalaysiaPhilippinesSingaporeSouth AsiaSouth KoreaThailand
Europe: BulgariaCzech RepublicDenmarkFinlandFranceGermanyGreeceIrelandItaly
NetherlandsNorwayPolandPortugalRussiaSpainSwedenUnited Kingdom
Middle East: Arab worldIsrael
Oceania: AustraliaNew Zealand


Project Globe logo.png This article is part of Project Globe, a Bulbapedia project that aims to write comprehensive articles on the Pokémon franchise around the world.