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January 13, 2013

Geo TV starts famous ‘The 99’ series today

January 13, 2013

KARACHI: Geo TV will bring another world famous comic series ‘The 99’ from this Sunday at 7 pm.
The storyline consists of 99 people with various skills and abilities who face a power-hungry madman who seeks to steal all of their powers to enhance himself.
The 99 are ordinary teenagers and adults from across the globe, who come into possession of one of
the 99 magical mystical Noor Stones (Ahjar Al Noor: Stones of Light) and find themselves empowered in a specific manner.
Dr Naif Al-Mutawa is the creator of ‘The 99’, the world acclaimed comic superheroes born of an Islamic archetype. ‘The 99’ has received positive attention from the international media with Forbes calling ‘The 99’ “One of the Top 20 Trends Sweeping the Globe.”
Dr Al-Mutawa has earned a PhD in Clinical Psychology from Long Island University. He holds a Masters in Business Administration from Columbia University and a Masters in Organizational Psychology from Teacher’s College, Columbia University.
He earned his undergraduate degree from Tufts University. Dr Al-Mutawa is the recipient of The United Nations Alliance of Civilizations “Marketplace of Ideas” Award; The Schwab Foundation Social Entrepreneurship Award, presented at the 2009 World Economic Forum on The Middle East; The Eliot-Pearson Award for Excellence in Children’s Media; and a Unesco prize for literature in the service of tolerance.
Dr Naif was named one of ‘The 500 Most Influential Muslims in the World’ by The Royal Islamic Strategic Studies Center (in Jordan) in concert with Georgetown’s Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Centre for Muslim-Christian Understanding.
He was recently named as one of the World Economic Forum’s Young Global Leaders for 2011.
In an exclusive interview to Jang and Geo group, he elaborated in detail all of its “The 99 series”.
Q: What is the message you want to convey to the Muslim community through this series?
Dr Naif: One of the main

messages is how we package our values will go a long way to how we are accepted and brought in to the mainstream. ‘The 99’ used concepts known to all Muslims yet packaged them on the values level and used a universal language to do so. People have been enjoying ‘The 99’ irrespective of their religion.
You don’t have to be a Japanese to like Pokemon, you don’t have to be a British to like Harry Potter and you don’t have to be Muslim to like and learn from ‘The 99’. More concepts like ‘The 99’ have to be advocated and supported to average out the negatively persistent portrayal of Muslims in the media. No one will do it for us. We have to do it ourselves but our eye has to be on the globe.
Q: How can we unite Muslim community on a single platform?
Dr Naif: I think this is a very difficult and dangerous task, I believe that having one platform makes it very easy to manipulate and corrupt. I think it’s very important to be able to keep various platforms to keep each other in check. I am a big believer in averages and by giving everyone a voice we will be much closer to the truth as a community than any one platform.
Q: Is there any problem you have faced while making the series 99?
Dr Naif: There were lots of challenges along the way.
(1) Myself: I was worried that if I tried to raise money and failed I’d be known as the crazy guy that tried. There was self doubt initially.
(2) My family: I had completed 3 Master’s degrees and a doctorate and told my father that I was going to work in comic books…he thought I had gone off the charts!
(3) Financing: Ten years ago I told my investors that I would build a global band out of Kuwait, base it on Islamic archetypes and values and sell it to the world. Crazy idea back then! But I found those who supported the project.
(4) People’s perceptions: In 2010,a new series came out in America that had ‘THE 99’ working with Batman, Superman and other Western heroes. This was a big deal as the last time that DC Comics did this was 20 years ago. It was such a big deal that President Obama spoke about it in a speech he gave by calling it the most innovative response to his Cairo Speech.
This led to the world knowing about us including those who are at war with Islam so ‘The 99’ Television series was attacked in America by Islam haters. In December 2012, ‘The 99’ was finally launched in America more than two years after we sold it into that market. America became our 70th country to broadcast the show even though it was the first to buy it. And America loves ‘The 99!’
Q: Did the entire world recognize your efforts and what was their response?
Dr Naif: 2013 is our tenth year in business. In those ten years we accumulated a wealth of experience and recognition as pioneers in the intellectual property space of theMiddle East. ‘The 99’ comic book series has published 50 issues and ‘The 99’ television series is now aired in 70 countries on all 6 continents, including the United States, making it the first ever entertainment property from the Muslim World to go global. The world greeted us warmly with amazing media coverage, awards from the World Economic Forum and the United Nations along with public words of praise from global leaders including President Obama who publicly praised ‘The 99’s team up with Batman and Superman as “perhaps the most innovative response” to his Cairo speech.
Q: Any message for the Pakistanis ?
Dr Naif: ‘The 99’ has heroes form 99 countries including Pakistan. When I started ‘The 99’ I had no experience in comic books (now there are 50) no experience in theme parks (‘The 99’ Village theme park opened in Kuwait in 2009) and no experience in animation (‘The 99’ TV series is now on global television). My message to Pakistanis is the message I gave to my children when we saw the first ever animated episode together. After the episodes I leaned over and said “Baba, the one thing I want you to learn from this experience is that anything is possible…anything at all.” Our Facebook page has 1.5 Million people on it from all over the world.
In third place is Pakistan with just under 200,000 fans on our Face book page! Don’t ask for permission, ask for forgiveness. Don’t let self doubt and fear of failure stop you.
Never let goodness be hostage to perfection. Our culture and religion is full of themes and values that connect us to all people irrespective of their religion.
The world of ‘The 99’ is an inclusive one not an exclusive one. I went back to our culture and religion and pulled out
tolerant, multicultural messages instead of the violent messages that the media so quickly associated to our faith abroad.
Don’t let a few bad apples spoil a bountiful orchard!

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