Five Saudi shutterbugs have highlighted the beauty of AlUla, the vast region in north-west Saudi Arabia described as an open-air museum of unprecedented historical and cultural significance. The winners of the #CaptureAlUla Photo Competition, which kicked off on World Photography Day (August 19), really did justice to the area that covers 22,561km², including a lush oasis valley, towering sandstone mountains and the important sites that date back thousands of years.
The competition, which the Royal Commission for AlUla (RCU) held in co-operation with Sony Alpha, was developed to support and uncover local photographers. The winners received a compact Sony Alpha 6600M camera, which has the world’s fastest Auto-focus, and commission of 10,000 SAR from RCU in exchange for 50 photographs in the category selected by the judges’ committee. Plus, of course, they will have the opportunity to collaborate with RCU on future projects.
Some 178 photographers submitted a total of 3,886 photos via the @experiencealula Instagram page. And the five judges, including award-winning photographer Ahmed Almasoud and Mohammad Almoraizeeq, President of AlUla Photography Group, made their decisions based on criteria including technique, creativity and storytelling.
Ziad Alarfaj, Sony Alpha Ambassador in KSA and another #CaptureAlUla judge commented: “The participants are all very creative, we chose those winners based on who we believe will have a brilliant future in photography. Each winner has a valuable opportunity to share their artistry with to the world, each picture was chosen not only for showcasing the beauty of its subject, but in telling the story behind it.”
Aisha Alhjairi who loves cinematography, photography and listening to classical music, earned the Design grouping. “By using pottery and dry branches, using earthy colours, and through the harmony between the elements of this artwork and the harmony of lighting in it, I wanted to show and prove that from the drought we can create an artistic picture, as beauty is created from severity, and luxury is created from simplicity,” she said while commenting on her winning image. “I made this idea specifically to show the sensual heritage (the pottery) in a different way from what is customary to touch the feelings of the recipient and bring them back to the memory."
Additionally, Mosallam AlBluwe won the Nature category, Thani Alanzi picked up the People one and Kamal Alanzi was placed at the top of the Adventure classification. Meanwhile, Fawaz Alsharif nabbed the Monumental theme. “The story I wanted to show through the image is the beauty of the place and the magnificent architecture of the castle, the beauty of the sky and the earth that unites them. AlUla is so full of amazing monuments and rich history,” Alsharif said.
As part of the Sony collaboration for #CaptureAlUla, two workshops for aspiring photographers were delivered in AlUla by Sony Alpha representatives Muhammmad Almunasif, Abdulaziz AlBlwi and Abdulmajeed Alblwi. In addition, Saudi Arabia’s first UNESCO World Heritage Site, Hegra was made exclusively available to the photographers. The 52-hectare ancient city was the principal southern city of the Nabataean Kingdom and is comprised of nearly 100 well preserved tombs with elaborate facades cut into sandstone outcrops.