For the first time, the Middle East Film and Comic Con is coming to Abu Dhabi. Scheduled to take place from Friday to Sunday at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre, celebrities and artists will come to the capital for a pop-culture-filled weekend.
So if you can't wait any longer, here's everything you need to know.
The celebrities appearing
Returning once again are talks and meet-and-greets, as well as panels with celebrities from film, TV and beyond. Familiar faces from the Marvel Cinematic Universe — from the big and small screen — including Charlie Cox, Barry Keoghan and Ming-Na Wen will make an appearance at the event.
Keoghan, who’s known for his roles in Dunkirk and The Killing of a Sacred Deer, also starred as Druig in Eternals and can also be seen in The Batman. Wen is a familiar face in the MCU with roles in Agents of Shield and more recently in Disney's The Mandalorian and The Book of Boba Fett.
Other celebrities slated to appear include The Walking Dead stars Jon Bernthal and Michael Rooker, who have both also appeared in the MCU, with Bernthal starring as Frank Castle aka The Punisher and Rooker as Yondu Udonta in Guardians of the Galaxy.
Meanwhile Game of Thrones star Nathalie Emmanuel and voice-over actors Kevin Conroy and Charles Martinet will also be at the event.
Also returning this year will be big-name artists from publishers such as Marvel, DC and more. They’ll be hosting free workshops over the weekend, covering a variety of topics — from how to draw to career tips in the comic book field.
This year's international guests include Deadpool and Cable creator Rob Liefeld, Marvel artist Leinil Francis Yu, freelance illustrator David Nakayama (Spider-Man, X-Men and Deadpool), DC comic artist and writer Reilly Brown, Marvel and DC artist Andy Lee and colourist Sabine Rich.
Other names include Disney artist James Mulligan, watercolourist Tony Moy and comic book artists Sarah Suhng, Mark Brooks, and Creees Lee.
It’s also worth checking out is Artists Alley, where regional designers, artists, comic creators, animators and more, display their works in the hopes of one day joining the bigwigs at future shows.
The Cosplay competition
No Comic Con is complete without Cosplay. This year, the MEFCC will hold its competition on the main stage on Saturday at 6pm, with a prize pool of Dh25,000 up for grabs. There are three different categories including Best Craftsmanship, Best Performance on Stage, and Best Kids Cosplay.
The Mainstage performances and competitions
The heart of live action, the Mainstage section of the event will feature cosplay contests, gaming and dance competitions, and DJ and musical performances.
Some events include a dance show by the Sakura Sunshine Idols, an anime-themed concert by Emirati singer Alira and a RollDXB dance and cosplay competition. There will also be a gaming tournament with a Dh30,000 prize pool for playing Rocket League, Tekken 7 and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive.
The MEFCC Theatre
This is the base for the celebrity panels and Q&As. This year visitors can catch a talk by Bernthal on how to best bring an anti-hero to life, or see Wen discuss her roles in Disney’s Mulan and as Fennec Shand in Star Wars, or attend another with Keoghan about his film The Batman.
Other sessions include one with voice-over artists Martinet and Conroy, while Rooker will chat about his roles in Guardians of the Galaxy and The Walking Dead.
Comic Con draws all kinds of traders to its exhibition halls, from corporates touting their latest big-budget fare on immaculately constructed themed stands to local one-man traders selling retro gaming consoles from a table.
Add to this a wealth of comics stalls where you can pick up everything from the latest Manga offerings to early editions of classic Marvel and DC titles, and it’s safe to say your wallet could take a beating if you don’t pay attention.
Food trucks and outdoor area
For those who need to grab a bite, food trucks will be located at the outdoor Mainstage area and will include Dubai burger favourite High Joint, Asian street food Wok Boyz, and Mexican eatery La Patrona.
Plant-based restaurants Tindle and Get Plucked will also be there and have teamed up to serve two special anime-themed dishes.
The Tindle Katsu Sando is made with fried buttermilk Tindle plant-based chicken topped with buttermilk slaw and drizzled with a special burger sauce, and is served in Japanese milk bread. The Tindle yuzu karaage is a crispy waffle cone filled with buttermilk Tindle plant-based popcorn chicken, tossed in home-made yuzu mayo and topped with pickles and spring onions.
Outside, there will be a skatepark, meanwhile children can enjoy a dedicated zone that also includes a play area.
Covid-19 safety precautions
For UAE citizens and residents, a green Al Hosn app or a negative result from a PCR test taken within 96 hours is needed for entry. There are specific requirements for international visitors depending on vaccination status and details are on the event's website. Those aged 12 and under are not required to be vaccinated and do not need a PCR test to enter.
More information is at www.mefcc.com