UAE: Amazing Al Dhafra through the lenses; Emirati photographers in spotlight at book festival

Through their work, they have displayed the beauty of the sea, desert and the heritage as well as its people and wildlife


Ashwani Kumar

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Photos: Supplied
Photos: Supplied

Published: Sat 9 Dec 2023, 9:16 PM

Local photographers are grabbing attention at the Al Dhafra Book Festival 2023 by showcasing their creative experiences and highlighting the rich history of the western region of Abu Dhabi.

Emirati photographers told Khaleej Times how a photography corner, a first-time addition to the festival, has provided them a platform to display their prominent works, and interact with the public, and share their talent and skills.

Al Dhafra literally means ‘where the desert meets the sea’. Through their work, these photographers have displayed the beauty of the sea, desert, and heritage of Al Dhafra, as well as its people and wildlife, in a setting that enticed visitors to explore the western region’s natural and cultural wealth.

Photographer Afra Al Marar invited Emirati families to create unique professional shots of their children, using traditional heritage items such as scarves, vintage phones, and other artifacts. Their creations were added to her collection of photographs featuring Emirati faces from Al Dhafra.

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Al Marar displayed her archive of photos that highlighted the port, Liwa, and Al Dhafra, among other scenic spots in the Al Dhafra region. Several of her photos earned praise from the community. Her photos of the desert sands won second place at the Maritime Port Festival, while another of a starfish came in fourth in a contest for photos from the western region. She has been honoured by Sheikh Hamdan bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Ruler’s Representative in the Western Region.

Ali Ibrahim Al Hammadi displayed creative photos of the UAE’s wildlife, including falcons, peacocks, and gazelles.

“I enjoy my hobby of photography, particularly when a certain image gains recognition or is selected for an award. My hobby enables me to highlight the area’s rich cultural legacy, its natural surroundings, including desert and wildlife, and the talent and creativity of its residents,” Al Hammadi said.

His image of a gazelle, which he owns, was awarded second place in the Sharjah Government Media Office’s ‘Exposure’ competition. Also, National Geographic magazine selected his image of a falcon with a falconer to post on their Instagram account.

Abdullah Al Raesi, a high school student, presented a group of night photos that depict the beauty of Al Dhafra’s landscape. He began his journey as a photographer using his mobile phone to take photos and made a reasonable income that allowed him to buy a camera and the necessary equipment, such as lenses and lighting gear. “I love taking night photos. I used to go out at night and enjoy photographing the stars, which I admire and know how to distinguish between them very well. I want to convey people’s thoughts through my photos, and I want to tell the hidden story behind each photo; a picture speaks louder than words,” Al Raesi noted.

They praised Al Dhafra Book Festival, organised by the Abu Dhabi Arabic Language Centre (ALC), for offering them a platform to interact with the public, showcase their skills and originality, and use photography to share their message about the Al Dhafra region and its stunning surroundings.

The festival is ongoing at Public Park in Zayed City till Sunday. The park is open to the public from 8 am to midnight.


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