Arts & Culture

5 female Gulf photographers you should know

These talented women should be on your radar.


By Sekka Team

The Gulf region is brimming with rising photographers who are capturing the region in innovative ways, giving us a fresh view of the Gulf and its people.Many of the photographers behind the stunning photos are women. Here are 5 of these photographers who should be on your radar, in no particular order.

Maha Alasaker

Kuwaiti photographer Maha Alasaker. Image: courtesy.

Maha Alasaker is a Kuwaiti photographer, artist and author who became especially known for her 2017 photography series The Women of Kuwait, which was later published in a photo book of the same name. The series captures Kuwaiti women in the intimacy of their bedrooms, thus providing “an unprecedented glimpse into these women’s private, more authentic lives.” The idea for the series arose after Maha moved to the United States in 2013, and was bombarded with questions about what it means to be a Kuwaiti woman. And so Maha answered the questions, once and for all, visually through the series.

From Maha Alasaker’s photography series, The Women of Kuwait. Image: Maha Alasaker.

Maha’s photography focuses on the issues of womanhood, identity, culture and self-worth, and has been showcased in the UK, USA, Kuwait, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia, and featured in Rolling Stone Magazine, Vogue Arabia and Sekka, amongst others. Alongside her more personal photography work, Maha has also done editorial photography for Harper’s Bazaar Arabia.

To see more of Maha Alasaker’s work, visit her Instagram page.

Tasneem Alsultan

Saudi photographer Tasneem Alsultan. Image: courtesy.

Growing up, Tasneem Alsultan had always loved reading stories and exploring cultures, and has used her camera to do exactly that. The Saudi visual storyteller, who was born and raised in the United States, particularly enjoys telling Arabs’ stories through her photography, and correcting misconceptions of Arabs in the western world.  Her photographs, which frequently capture Saudi women and their momentous tales, have been featured in National Geographic, The New York Times and more. 

Tasneem Alsultan’s photography of Saudi women driving in 2018. Image: Tasneem Alsultan.

“I’m really grateful for the outlets that have welcomed my photos and stories, and shared them with the world. Now, everyone knows that we don’t commute by camels, act barbarically, or bury our daughters before they turn five. If I could change the views of only 20 per cent of the people who see my photos, that would be an achievement on its own,” she told Sekka in August 2020. Tasneem also uses her social media accounts to reach a wide audience and deliver her stories.

To see more of Tasneem Alsultan’s work on Instagram, click here.

Noora Al Neyadi

Emirati photographer Noora Al Neyadi. Image: courtesy.

Noora Al Neyadi is an Emirati photographer who became especially well known for her 2018 photography series An Arab in Tokyo.  The series, which symbolizes the importance carrying a piece of one’s cultural and national identity with them wherever they went, was showcased in Dubai’s Sikka Art Fair 2018, and one of  the photographs of the series graced the cover of Sekka’s Identity Issue.

From Noora Al Neyadi’s photography series, An Arab in Tokyo. Images: Noora Al Neyadi. Click on each image to enlarge it.

More recently, the young photographer has captured the UAE’s fight against the novel coronavirus through her lens in her Eyes Stories photography project, to showcase the tremendous efforts of the heroic front liners and to document their stories for future generations, the latter of which she is especially passionate about doing.

From Noora Al Neyadi’s photography series, the Eyes Stories Project. Images: Noora Al Neyadi.

To see more of Noora Al Neyadi’s photography, visit her Instagram page.

Shaima Al-Tamimi

Yemeni-Kenyan photographer Shaima Al-Tamimi. Image: courtesy.

Shaima Al-Tamimi has been making huge strides in the Gulf’s photography scene for years. Her photography and film work, which has most recently been showcased in Madrid’s Photo Espane/ Casa Arabe, often focuses on capturing her experiences as a Yemeni-Kenyan who has lived her whole life in the Gulf region (between the UAE and Qatar), as well the stories and experiences of fellow Yemenis who live in the diaspora. “Photography has grown on me in many different ways, and I love how it helps me understand myself and the environment around me,” the Magnum Foundation’s 2020 Social Justice and Photography Fellow told Sekka in the fall of 2020.

From Shaima Al-Tamimi’s photography series, Yemeni Beauty Rituals. Images: Shaima Al-Tamimi. Drag to see more.

Shaima also tackles themes of migration, culinary arts and diversity in her photography. One of her most recent photography series documents and celebrates Yemeni beauty rituals that women practice, which had made Shaima feel connected to home when she was growing up.

To see more of Shaima Al-Tamimi’s work, visit her Instagram page.

Rasha Yousef

Bahraini photographer Rasha Yousef. Image: courtesy.

Rasha Yousef, who is more popularly known by her nickname “Rshrsho,” is a Bahraini documentary photographer who was born and raised in the Kindgom’s Muharraq Island. Her photography focuses on capturing culture, traditional lifestyles and architecture in Bahrain and around the world (she has traveled to 100 countries so far). Rasha’s photography has been showcased in Riyadh’s Alwan Photography Exhibition, as well as Bahrain’s Food Is Culture Art Exhibition. In addition to capturing the world through her lens, Rasha dedicates much of her time to supporting emerging photographers in Bahrain through her initiative FotoBh, through which she organizes photo walks, events and more, for keen photographers.

Photography by Rasha Yousef. Images: Rasha Yousef. Drag to see more.

To see more of Rasha Yousef’s work, visit her Instagram page.

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