The Environment Photography Exhibition displaying 38 artworks by university students took place last week. The artworks highlighted solutions to environmental problems across the UAE through the competition, which is known as Environment and Development Integration — Not Collision.

Zayed University and Environment Agency—Abu Dhabi (EAAD) organised a ceremony to honour the winners of the Environment Photography Competition Award for UAE universities and higher education institutes under the patronage of Shaikh Hamdan Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister.

Who participated and how?

Full time, graduate and undergraduate students of all nationalities in the UAE submitted their artworks online at and the top categories were selected by a team of five judges.

Students from the college of Communication and Media Sciences from Zayed University, Abu Dhabi campus conceived the idea of the competition as part of their capstone project. The theme was chosen to focus on the impact of adopting a new lifestyle and on the UAE's environment, such as daily construction and pollution.

"The participation of students in different local, regional and international events enhances their skills and capabilities, prepares them to face life, and embodies the learning outcomes they have learned in both Arabic and English languages, IT skills and problem solving. I congratulate the award winners, reassuring them that their ideas and creativity will achieve the required results for maintaining and preserving the environment," said Dr Sulaiman Al Jasem, Vice President of Zayed University.

About the competition

The competition comprised two categories: single photographs, which allowed participants to submit one photograph expressing a theme.

This photo is meant to portray an important message describing the relationship between the environment and human beings. First prize for the single photo was Dh12,000; second prize Dh6,000 and third prize Dh4,000.

The second category featured a series of photographs which allowed the participants to submit up to three photos to convey one story. This series of related photos was meant to offer the viewer insight into the world of environment. The series photos first prize was Dh12,000; second prize Dh6,000 and third prize Dh4,000.

Winners speak

Ahmad Mohammad Hassan Al Marzouqi, UAE University won first prize for the Single Category. He told Notes that he plans to use the money to buy new components for his camera.

Al Marzouqi's theme in his photo was 'We are friends — palms and buildings' which he said meant to encourage greenery alongside development.

"I believe it's vital to have a green nation nearby new buildings. That is what I show in my photo. Palm trees are the essence of the Emarati ulture and should never be eradicated. I tried my best to stick to the theme of Development Integration — Not Collision," he said.

The award winner has only taken three or four photography workshops and surfs the website in his spare time to learn various photography techniques and is involved in various forums related to professional photography discussions.

"For me photography along with football is a hobby. I enjoy taking snapshots of landscapes, nature and greenery. This is what I love to do and for now I prefer considering it a hobby rather than a career, but who knows what may happen tomorrow," said Al Marzouqi.

Humaid Ali Al Ka'abi, Architecture Engineering, UAE University, won first prize in the Series Category through his Impact and Harmony photo shots.

"I took a lot of pictures but at the end I only picked out those two. The first one displays a man walking up a sand dune leaving his footprints behind him. I took that photo in Al Ain desert. The other pictures involve sand with no human beings at all. The theme is harmony and impact," said Al Ka'abi.

He wasn't sure he would win the competition but explains that it has given him confidence to create more photos and enter various national and international competitions. He plans to use the award money to update his camera.

In addition, Al ka'abi graduates in June 2009 and plans to interrelate his architecture work with photography. "There are sophisticated pictures of various sites and buildings in architecture and they are not easy to take. I find it an art on its own."

He has not taken any professional photography courses, but believes he has an eye to beauty and snapshot taking. He listens to criticisms and depends on hands-on experience and through that, develops his talent and plans to take it one step further by reading more about professional photography.

Mariam Dawood Al Hammadi won third prize for the Series Category. Her pictures showed junk food and other items surrounding a garbage disposal, what she calls a screaming street to stop the mass.

She is currently studying her masters in International Business Administration, Zayed University. Her undergraduate degree was in Mass Communication where she initially took a black and white photography course and learnt how to take individual snap shots.

"I'm now taking shots with technique. They are more natural and involve studying how to take the picture in a story-telling manner that will be meaningful to the viewer," said Al Hammadi.

This is her third competition; she received second and third place awards in photography competitions last year. The theme of the awards was related to the culture in Abu Dhabi.

Winning the competition has encouraged Al Hammadi to take photography one step further. She is presently freelancing with the Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority and Halcrow International and uses a Canon 20D but plans to update her camera.

"I expected to win this competition because I took the photos specifically for the theme asked of me. My picture was real, it is related to the garbage problem we have in the city and the government should notice this problem and do something about it before it gets worse. It's all about improving the environment; there's a cause behind it which I was more than pleased to portray in my photographs," she said.

Other students

Eisa Rashed Al Mazrouei, Petroleum Institute, Mechanical Engineering took snapshots of earth buildings and the sky.

Maher Sami al Khatib, Abu Dhabi University, Computer Science took photos of Lulu Island and Abu Dhabi from a dune.