By Manar Alhinai
They say a picture is worth a thousand words, and in the case of stereotypes, a picture could present a culture in a way that is far from the truth, and which can result in harm. This has been the case for Arabs as a group. It’s not uncommon to hear Arabs frustrated at the way international media, television shows and films continue to portray them in the light of terrorism and backwardness. But three young Bahraini creatives, Ishaq Madan, Yara Ayoob and Ali Al Shehabi, appreciate that their photos can speak tens of thousands of words, and have decided to take matters into their own hands and challenge these negative stereotypes through what they know best: the camera and social media.
Yara Ayoob, The Neo-Arabs Issue cover star. Image by Adham Alsaiaari. Graphic design by Farangiz Masumova.
To many, the small kingdom, which borders Saudi Arabia, has historically been known as a pearl diving hub, to its people’s friendly nature and its rich history. In the last few years, however, it has witnessed an increased rise of a young generation of artists and photographers who strive to showcase elements of its rich culture on an international scale through various creative mediums. With the help of social media, they have been able to attract viewers from around the world. Madan, Ayoob and Al Shehabi are part of this generation that has garnered regional and international attention, and are using photography as a medium to battle misconceptions about Arabs by highlighting elements of their rich Bahraini culture.
From left to right: Bahraini photographer Ishaq Madan. Image courtesy of Ishaq Madan. Bahraini photographer Ali Al Shehabi. Image courtesy of Ali Al Shehabi.
What drives these three photographers to continue sharing elements of their culture with a global audience on their social media pages and beyond? How do they continue to shatter stereotypes? And how has the international audience responded to their conceptual work? They walk me through their journeys. The interviews have been edited for the purposes of length and clarity.
This article is part of The Neo-Arabs Issue. To continue reading the article, click here to buy a digital copy of the issue. To read the entirety of this article in print, click here to order a print copy of the issue.
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