Kong Xiaoxi and Hakim, a 26-episode cartoon series, was co-produced in China and Saudi Arabia and broadcast on public television in both countries.
It tells the story of Hakim, a Saudi Arabian teenager working in his family’s restaurant. Hakim’s family restaurant faces stiff competition from a Western backed rival, the Raman restaurant.
Yet before Hakim loses hope in the prospects of the survival of his family restaurant, he meets Kong Xiaoxi, a Chinese teenager who offers his help. Kong helps Hakim’s family, using traditional Chinese cooking methods, to turn the restaurant around and help beat its rival.
Designed to promote cross-cultural awareness, Kong teaches Hakim traditional martial arts from China, whilst Hakim teaches Kong about life in Saudi Arabia.
Though intended for an audience yet to reach political maturity, Kong Xiaoxi and Hakim provides powerful symbolic insights into the expanding role China plays in the Middle East.
It indicates that China sees itself in the region as an agent of assistance, willing to aid regional powers to reach their potential rather than keeping them weak and divided. It suggests a new period of cultural engagement between long detached world regions.
where once people and politics in the Middle East looked West for inspiration and support, in recent years they have increasingly shifted their gaze eastwards.