Jenny September 6, 2013

Windows into the world

Whether you are someone who is tired of dull and misguided stereotypical representations of the Middle East or just a person happy to discover interesting people who portray the world around them, this post is for you. Yesterday, when walking from one part of Beirut to another, I started as usual to flick through the recent visual updates in my Instagram feed.

It was somewhere between the 1978 yearbook photo of a Damascus girl and the colourful, kitschy artworks of Hassan Hajjaj I think that I realised how nice this medium is. There are so many inspirational and creative people, not least from across the Middle East, who through their photos make Instagram a lovely aesthetic bombardment. I thought I’d share some of the ones I love the most with you. Here goes:

Hossein Fatemi captures life in Iran. First discovered his work when hearing him speak and showing his photos at the Chobi Mela festival in Dhaka earlier this year. Abdulsalam Al Amri shares lovely street shots from Riyadh and other places across Saudi Arabia (and elsewhere in the region). We did a feature of his photos over at Mashallah News, find it here!

Noha Zayed has a beautiful eye and spends a lot of time in fantastic places. Always with her cute kiddo, often in Egypt, other times elsewhere. David Habchy s a multi-creative Lebanese who takes pictures of lovely, ugly, charming and unexpected things.

Rana Jarbou is he go-to-source for anything street art and graffiti in the Arab world. Sometimes in Saudi Arabia, others in Lebanon, Bahrain, Oman or elsewhere. Insiya Syed is a Karachi-based photojournalist who documents life in Pakistan with a big, loving heart.

Laura El Tantawy is another unique visual voice. Her photos from Egypt say more about the revolution than most articles and commentaries. Here’s a feature of her work that we did over at Mashallah News a while ago. Ahmad Mahmoud is a sweetheart and a great storyteller. When not in Khartoum, he’s with his camera in Kenya.

Ali Jabbar has an all black-and-white feed with shots from across the Gulf. I like how he captures serenity, motion and stillness. Newsha Tavakolian takes beautiful photos of moments in people’s lives. You will love to look at Tehran through her eyes.

Borga Kantürk shares images that always seem, in the simplest of ways, to capture the atmosphere of places. Istanbul and elsewhere. Victor Mousa is another Egyptian voice, and knows exactly how to portray Arab kitsch.

Then, there are a few people/feeds that share old and new photos from across the region. There’s zamaaan – “your passport to the past” – who share old family pictures, and, for those who cannot get enough of retro moustaches and traditional hats, iranostalgia.