Beginning of Manga and Anime in the Arab World
Japanese anime’s rise in popularity started when popular series were dubbed into Arabic in the eighties. Founded in 1985, Al-Zahra Center (VENUS) based in Damascus, Syria was the only company in the Middle East that did Japanese to Arabic localization and dubbing of anime. Popular anime later dubbed by Al-Zahra Center include Detective Conan, Captain Tsubasa, Dragon Ball, Hunter X Hunter, and One Piece.
Before the mid-1990s, although there were no channels dedicated to cartoons and anime, dubbed cartoon series mainly intended for children were shown at specific times on local government TVs. During this period, anime had the largest share in terms of airing.
In 1997, Orbit Media Network launched Disney Channel Middle East, the Arabic version of Disney Channel, which gained popularity for its Egyptian and Lebanese Arabic-dubbed works. Although many in different parts of the region did not have access to it due to censorship, it was the only channel dedicated to children in the Arab world at the time. In the summer of the following year, ARTENZ channel of the Arab Radio and Television Network became available for a wider audience.
Most anime series are enjoying their wide popularity in the Arab world thanks to Spacetoon, an open Arab television channel that started in 2000. The channel specializes in Japanese animation and programs targeted toward children and adolescents. The channel’s blocks which were dubbed planets aired classic anime series: Action Planet aired Dragon Ball Z, Adventure Planet aired One Piece and Detective Conan, and Sports Planet aired Inazuma Eleven Go.