x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Positive portrayals of the UAE's men

A photographic exhibition at Ductac hopes to portray Emirati men in a better light.

Amna Raisi's exhibition of portraits of men from the UAE opened yesterday in Dubai. Lee Hoagland / The National
Amna Raisi's exhibition of portraits of men from the UAE opened yesterday in Dubai. Lee Hoagland / The National

DUBAI // Amna Raisi believes Emirati men are getting a raw deal.

Ms Raisi's photographic exhibition, Men of the UAE, opened yesterday at the Dubai Community Theatre and Arts Centre (Ductac) and aims to portray her subjects in a positive light.

The Emirati, 20, says her female compatriots are often the subject of positive media coverage, but one seldom reads any stories that celebrate the actions of UAE men.

"I chose to depict the men of the UAE in my exhibition because our men, in my opinion, are under-represented and it's usually negative," Ms Raisi said.

"The high focus on women is adding to the typical stereotype that Emirati men are lazy, spoilt and unemployed - it's putting them down."

Ms Raisi photographed 19 Emirati men from different age groups and backgrounds, and says organising the shoots was a challenge.

"I really appreciated the time I spent taking their photographs because I know it's a hard thing to do, especially coming from an conservative culture," she said.

The exhibition is presented by Ductac in collaboration with Promise of a Generation (Poag), a non-profit initiative to enhance intercultural dialogue between young people.

Aida al Busaidy, a co-founder of Poag, said the group was delighted to highlight Ms Raisi's work.

"Amna inspired us with her topic as she discovered there aren't many positive articles on UAE men," Ms al Busaidy said. "Although she's still young, she's teaching us something we never thought about or thought about negatively."

Ms Raisi had the idea for the exhibition more than two years ago.

"I was in my best friend's room, looking at her wall, and I asked her, 'Why don't I take pictures of men?'" she said. "She laughed and thought it was a dirty thing.

"I want to capture the diversity of our men, especially our men and the way they're protective, generous, modest and each one of them has a unique characteristic."

Ms Raisi's parents have been supportive, she said.

"I trust her with anything she does; she knows her values very well," said her mother, Esmat Khunji.

Ms Raisi said she was certain the nature of the exhibition will draw criticism.

"There are good people and bad people, and the bad people will always find something to break you down with. But to tell you the truth, I am looking forward to those people because those are the people who will build my personality."

Ms Raisi's exhibition will be open today at the Gallery of Light in Ductac, Mall of the Emirates, between 10am and 10pm.

aalhaddad@thenational.ae