Focus on women with ambition, says TV pioneer - GulfToday

Focus on women with drive, says Emirati screenwriter


Afnan Alqasimi, the Emirati writer of hit TV series Boxing Girls.

Middle East writers must consider ‘real characters’ and young females with ambition when creating characters to move the needle on TV series and evolve outdated attitudes towards women.

That was the message from Afnan Alqasimi, the inspiring Emirati writer who created and wrote hit TV series Boxing Girls, during day two of ON.DXB, the three-day festival designed to drive the film, game, video and music industries taking place at Dubai Studio City – Sound Stages.

“In the Arab region we have so many women and youngsters who want to do something and have ambition – we have so many stories to tell,” said Alqasimi. “When I wrote Boxing Girls, the whole idea came after sitting with a woman who lifted weights at the Olympic Games, but came back and found no respect from the people around her – no one really cared, they just wanted her to get married. In sports, men are celebrated, when you think of soccer players, but it is not the same for women.

“We took risks about certain issues, but we realised people wanted us to explore topics like this. It is important that films and TV are not just entertainment – it is a documentation of our reality and it is like a book, where you want to understand it and relate to it. Females and young people can be very outspoken and we want to do so much more with them as character – we want to see ‘different’, refreshing types instead of the type of character we might normally see on TV — that type of character we are trying to challenge at the moment.”

Hhuge potential

The Arab world has huge potential to contribute to a talent shortfall of six million unfilled jobs in the worldwide gaming sector, according to sector experts speaking at ON.DXB.

Speaking during a panel session entitled ‘Gaming: From Art to Business’ on the Sessions Stage at ON.DXB, pioneers from across the Arab world’s gaming sector were united in their view that regional gaming can play a huge role in global gaming.

“Educational programmes are key. We need more programmes for production, marketing, finance, legal – the industry is about much more than design. We need this to grow a healthy ecosystem,” said Ahmed Tehemar, Marketing Manager of Gameloft.

With the global gaming industry expected to reach a market value of $136.5 billion in 2019, according to technology market intelligence firm Pelham Smithers Associates, the opportunities are available to all levels of gaming industry professionals.

Amid the enduring popularity of gaming platforms such as arcade, console, handheld, PC, mobile and Virtual Reality, next generation opportunities exist beyond pure entertainment and tap into further uses for engagement, education and even team building,  revealed Habib Chams, Founder & Manager of the Digital Games Conference Dubai.

“The ecosystem cannot grow without the major global publisher and the independents. The process of external development will continue to see international heavyweights outsource certain functions to independents – that can only be good for the whole industry and for our regional talent coming through,” said Chams.

Elsewhere on day two of ON.DXB, regional digital gaming entrepreneur Reine Abbas, the co-founder & COO of Wixel Studios, bemoaned that women make up less than 30 per cent of people involved in the global industry during a dedicated keynote on the Circle Stage.

“Women don’t realise they can be leaders in technology, so it is my mission to show we can all do it because I did it. I am trying to boost the games industry, but we don’t have gaming education in schools – it is a huge industry with many career opportunities. We must create a powerful state of mind where we create online platforms for people to play and learn at the same time,” Abbas said in her ‘Success Won’t Find You, You Need To Go And Earn It’ session.

ON.DXB, an initiative by Dubai Media City and Dubai Film & TV Commission, runs till Nov.23 at Dubai Studio City – Sound Stages. Further details are available at the ON.DXB website:


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