Arts & Culture

How Emirati photographer Alia Aljoker is narrating the UAE’s stories

The Emirati creative uses photography as a medium to reflect on stories and events.


By Sekka Team

Last February, when the UAE’s Hope Probe entered the Martian orbit successfully from the first attempt, one photo went viral on social media. The subject of the photo was an Emirati woman wearing a golden burqa, and a traditional Emirati green dress, holding a piece of cardboard above her head that reads “We reached Mars” in Arabic.

And when commercial operations began at UAE’s Barakah nuclear power plant, other sets of photos of the same Emirati woman, as well as a man, who were both wearing white safety helmets that had “New Era” and “Clean Energy” written on them, also went viral.

What all of these photos have in common is the photographer behind them, Emirati photographer Alia Sultan Aljoker. Born in Deira, the heart of old Dubai, the Emirati’s fondness of photos and cameras paved the way for her to join the art field and become a photographer, and document the UAE’s stories and milestones in her own creative way. The creatives describes her work as “photographs that tell a story, and not only a share moment.”

Alia uses photography as a medium to reflect on the stories within her society; a subject of one of her recent photography series was Covid-19 and the traditional Emirati burqa. In the photo series below, taken during the pandemic, Alia captures a number of elderly Emirati women wearing medical masks under their traditional burqas. When she asked them why they still insisted on wearing a burqa while they had a medical mask on, she received a number of responses such as: “I don’t know how to go out without my burqa”, “I’m not home so that I don’t wear a burqa” and “I wear it for modesty.” The women in the photos were from different Emirates. What the series highlights, and what Alia notes, is the strong bond between Emirati women and their traditional attire.

Alia tells us that the UAE is in the inspiration behind the subjects of all her work. “The UAE is the country where the word impossible doesn’t exist, and a country that inspires everyone. So how can it not inspire the daughter of the UAE?” she proudly tells us.

A subject of one of Alia Aljoker’s recent photography series was Covid-19 and the traditional Emirati burqa. Images: Alia Aljoker.

Alia shares her photo stories on her Instagram page; a channel that brings the viewers closer to Emirati society and its stories, as narrated by a fellow Emirati.

With over 4,000 followers on her Instagram page, Alia tells us that she will continue to explore more societal stories and cover significant events. She also plans to publish a book one day that shares the UAE’s stories through her photography.

To view more of Alia Sultan Aljoker’s work, follow her page on Instagram.

The views of the authors and writers who contribute to Sekka, and the views of the interviewees who are featured in Sekka, do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of Sekka, its parent company, its owners, employees and affiliates.