Photography


Reuters has an interesting photo essay of recent bullfighting in the UAE.

Two bulls lock their horns during a bullfight in the eastern emirate of Fujairah October 17, 2014. There are no matadors or picadors, but bulls locking horns with each other draw big crowds to bullfights in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). An hour’s drive from the dancing water fountains of Dubai’s glitzy downtown, hundreds of fans gather in Fujairah to watch bulls fighting, or perhaps more accurately head butting, with honour rather than money at stake. The UAE sport involves two bulls locking horns in a three-to-four minute Sumo-wrestling-like fight that usually ends with no bloodshed. Picture taken October 17, 2014. REUTERS/Ahmed Jadallah

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way – in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.”

So begins the classic Dickens novel, A Tale of Two Cities, written over a century and a half ago. The two cities in question were revolutionary Paris and Dickens’ own squalor-laden London. As fiction it was an unpacking of black-and-white, good and evil, wealth and poverty, kindness and cruelty. But as Dickens wryly noted from the start, such a period of stark contrast “was so far like the present” that it cried out for comparison. When I came across the two images juxtaposed above, the title of Dickens’ novel raced into my mind. What can one say about these two images, the iconic “American” image of the pick-up in the current political maelstrom that plagues the Middle East. What is this tale of two trucks?

So what do we see in both these images? Young men out for a thrill, one group actively seeking to kill. The top image reflects the top of the economic ladder, these young men of the UAE in a country that boasts a GDP (in 2012) of 383.80 billion dollars, representing .62% of the world’s economy. The rock-hard bottom is apparent in the bottom image of ISIS fighters. As for ISIS between Syria and Iraq, the GDP for Syria in 2012 was 73.67 billion dollars, while war-torn Iraq is elevated to 223 billion in 2013. God bless the hands that pump the oil. What would the region be without its black baraka? (more…)

There are many postcards on the Internet from old Aden under British control. Photographers in Aden were not immune to the Orientalist gaze on the curious and the bizarre.

to be continued… for #15, click here.

December eyes are fixed on Bethlehem, which has been an inspiration for artists over many years and indeed centuries. On this Christmas day, take a look at Bethlehem as it might have looked more than a century ago.


Left hand element of a stereoscopic photograph of the Bethlehem region circa 1900. Courtesy of Glenn Bowman.


Approaching Bethlehem. Source: Earthly Footsteps of the Man of Galilee.

The following two illustrations of Bethlehem can be found on the website (Jerusalem in 19th Century Art) put up by James E. Lancaster.


Bethlehem Tinted lithograph printed by Day & Son, after David Roberts, published about 1855.

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There are many beautiful cities in the world, but Istanbul is near the top. Check out this online album of photographs.

MessyNessy has put a page about the Marsh Arabs with some fabulous pictures. Check it out here.

It was Iraq’s ‘Garden of Eden’; unique wetlands in southern Iraq where a people known as the Ma’dan, or ‘Arabs of the marsh’, lived in a Mesopotamian Venice, characterised by beautifully elaborate floating houses made entirely of reeds harvested from the open water.


The Prince of Wales and group at the Pyramids, Giza, Cairo, March 1862 Royal Collection Trust / (c) Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2014

Prints from first photographed royal tour go on show at Buckingham Palace. Click here to see ten images.


Iranian photographer Mohammad Reza Domri Ganji has compiled a beautiful portfolio of images taken inside landmarks like the Nasir al-mulk Mosque, in Shiraz, Iran.

A set of extraordinary photographs of mosques in Iran by Mohammad Reza Domri Ganji is available on the web. It is well worth checking out. More of his photographs of Iranian mosques can be found here.

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