More importantly, perhaps, it’s the start of a very large community of Arab youth. As Aranim launches Aranime.com in time for Ramadan, a portal in which all the content is digitized and some actually animated, that creates a powerful tool to generate revenue. He is already learning to engage this nascent community, with the name of a new female agent being decided by the readers of his other comics. “She is the first female Arab action hero, a special forces agent whose job is to fight extremism – not just terrorism, but political, social and religious extremism,” says Suleiman. “I hope I can get women to see themselves more positively and for boys to see girls as active, strong and dynamic members of society.”
Of course, building an online community isn’t restricted to the comics. Aranim is also behind one of the most successful Arabic online games for Facebook, Element Zero. Although still in beta, there are 25,000 registered users who create 2 million page impressions per month – all playing the character of a Jordanian soldier, even though the players come from Egypt, Saudi and Tunisia.
Aranim is an ideal demonstration of the power of creativity and importance of community – and is at the heart of Jordan’s drive for a knowledge economy. It is also validation of the importance of action. “I have taken a lot of great advice from Fadi Ghandour, who always stressed execution,” Suleiman says. “An idea is nothing unless you put it into action – especially important in the Arab World! And I hope my ideas inspire the next generation through creative media.”