Thirty-one-year-old Emirati, Amal Al Mansouri is a struggling artist of a different kind.
She lives in Al Dhafra, a region in western Abu Dhabi, and is an amateur voice-over talent.
The unique challenge Al Mansouri faces is that she is blind.
Having being diagnosed with glaucoma at five-years-old, by the time the young woman was 13, she was completely blind.
Al Mansouri had to find creative ways of realizing her career dreams, given that she’s unable to read scripts or see the characters she brings to life.
Instead, she memorizes passages of dialogue and makes a mental record of sounds from nature and musical scores.
Constant practice is helping Al Mansouri perfect her craft, and she’s come a long way since the early days when it would take her hours to recite one line verbatim.
Recreating a scene from the The Ancient Magus’ Bride, her favourite Japanese animation series, the young woman demonstrates her technique.
Al Mansouri listens for the moment when the heroine, Chise Hatori, scratches a wall and asks the protagonist and magic teacher, Elias Ainsworth, if he was reading her mind.
To make sure she never misses a cue, the aspiring voiceover artists listens intently for clicks, musical interludes and audio prompts.
During Al Mansouri’s school years, teachers struggled to accommodate her needs. So, at home, she found new mentors in the form of Japanese animated programmes.
She made friends that lived hundreds of kilometres away who were also fans of anime and manga.
"We got to know her only through the virtual world, we’ve never met her before, but it feels like we’ve known her for a long time,” says Houda El Mokhtari, a music teacher at the Institute of Art and Music in Tangier, Morocco who also works as a freelance voice-over artist.
Over the phone, Al Mansouri and her friends have fun dubbing Arabic scripts to their favourite cartoons and recreating the musical scores.
A helping hand
Al Mansouri’s friends have long played a large role in her life.
When she was young, they verbally taught her mathematics and the sciences, but more importantly they also taught her to believe in her own abilities.
“If you love your dream, whatever the difficulties are, you’ll find people on your way who will help you,” says Al Mansouri.
Together, the friends have produced more than 10 voice-over films online.
Al Mansouri hopes to turn her hobby into a profession and is awaiting confirmation of her first potential role as a character on Iftah Ya Simsim, the Arabic version of the TV series Sesame Street.
She also wants to help younger generations in her community discover their own talents.
Like in the case of 14-year-old Saeed Mattar Al Mansouri, a cartoonist who also lives in Al Dhafra.
The budding artist has so far struggled to find the confidence to show his creative sketches to others.
“Everyone has a talent and they should reach it, and I’m sure that Saeed, with his drawings, he will make it,” says Al Mansouri.