DUBAI // An aerial picture of a cloud-shrouded Dubai has won first prize in a National Geographic photography contest ahead of 20,000 other entries.
The photo by Wijnand Van Till, a Dutch citizen who lives in the emirate, won the landscape category of the competition in the magazine's Netherlands edition. It was taken in April of last year.
"It was just a lucky shot," said Mr Van Till, 34, who has been working as a telecommunications consultant for the last three years. "It proves that you should always keep your camera close by."
The awards ceremony was held last Wednesday at the Royal Tropical Institute in Amsterdam.
Mr Van Till was a deserving winner, said Jochem Wijnands, a National Geographic photographer and one of the judges.
"He's not a professional photographer but he had that go-getting attitude which we look for," said Mr Wijnands. "For us, this kind of image was spectacular, like something from another world."
The image was also the overall winner for the Emirates in the Canon Competition, organised by the Dubai-based photographers' group Gulf Photo Plus in April. The organisation arranges workshops and exhibitions for its 14,000 members.
Photography in the area is rapidly improving, said Mohamed Somji, the organisation's director.
"The region is still in its infancy in terms of photography but it's growing in leaps and bounds," said Mr Somji, 34, originally from Tanzania but who grew up in Dubai. "We are seeing more of our members winning international competitions, which is heartening."
The prize for winning the competition was an all-expenses-paid trip to Kenya in April, which Mr Van Till said was a stroke of good fortune as some of his best images have come from safaris. "I hope to use some pictures from the trip in a competition later on," he said. "I suppose it depends on what the animals decide to do at the time."