Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 14 December 2019

Tradesmen of the Middle East in focus for National Geographic Abu Dhabi's Moments photography competition

The ninth staging of the competition was won by a budding 17-year-old Omani photographer and a 26-year-old woman from Lebanon

Seventeen-year-old Wafa Abdulmajeed has wanted to become a photographer ever since she discovered renowned National Geographic photographer Steve McCurry when she was younger.

When she later met McCurry in person, she was ostensibly hooked. Her father gave her her first Canon 700D camera as a gift, and the rest was history.

Abdulmajeed is the winner of the kids category for the National Geographic Abu Dhabi's Moments photography competition for 2019. Her winning photograph is a colourful picture of an Omani trader decked out in traditional clothing, surrounded by precious memorabilia and wares which "represents the strength and prestige of the Omani man".

Wafa Abdulmajeed,17, from Oman, won the children's category of the competition with this photo. Courtesy National Geographic Abu Dhabi. 
Wafa Abdulmajeed, 17, from Oman, won the children's category of the competition with this photo. Courtesy National Geographic Abu Dhabi

Over 50,000 photographs capturing the "diversity and stories of markets from around the Arab world" were submitted to judges for this year's competition.

Open to photographers of all skill levels, it has now been running for nine years, and aims to help budding photographers with exposure and mentoring. It's open to entrants from all ages 13 and up, and featured a returning category this year for those aged 13 to 17. This year's theme was "Souqs of the Middle East".

Lebanese photographer Zeinab Khalifeh won the adult's category with this picture of a tailor in Saida. Courtesy National Geographic Abu Dhabi.
Lebanese photographer Zeinab Khalifeh won the adult's category with this picture of a tailor in Saida. Courtesy National Geographic Abu Dhabi

The winner of the adult category of the competition is Lebanese photographer Zeinab Khalifeh, who took out the top prize for her moody picture of a tailor in ancient Saida who has been in his job for 40 years. Khalifeh has long been an avid photographer, and has "always appreciated images that told stories about the personal lives of people from a simple moment". She used her first-ever paycheck to buy a new Nikon camera, and has been documenting the world around her ever since.

Abdulmajeed wins $5,000 (Dh18,365) worth of photography equipment, a trip to the awards ceremony in Dubai and her winning photo will be published in National Geographic's Arabic magazine.

Khalifeh will also have her photograph printed in the Arabic National Geographic and receive $5,000 worth of photography equipment. She will then head on a 10-day international photography expedition trip along the Danube winner from Budapest, Hungary, to Nuremburg in Germany, worth $10,000, where she will be mentored by National Geographic expert photographers.

For this year's awards, there was an increase of 10,000 entries on last year.

The competition proved increasingly popular with GCC, and UAE, photographers this year, who constituted one-third of all entries in this year’s edition, doubling last year’s entries from the region.

UAE photographers showed the highest increase in submissions in the GCC, with a 62 per cent rise over last year.

Last year, 22-year-old aspiring photographer Mohammed Al Baraway, from Gaza, picked up the top prize at the competition. Over 40,000 entries were received, and 64 finalists were shortlisted.

Take a look at our gallery above of a selection of 22 entries from the competition.

Updated: November 18, 2019 05:29 PM

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