Dubai- Aspiring photographer Mohammad Al Baraway from Palestine was named the winner of the 8th edition of the ‘Moments’ photography competition by National Geographic Abu Dhabi (NGAD) on Thursday.
The 22 year-old was selected among 40,000 entries and 64 shortlisted photos under this year’s theme ‘Stories of Arabia.’
The entries captured a wide breadth and diversity of people’s stories, showing people engaged in their daily lives, at home, at work, at prayer as well as in more formal occasions
Held in partnership with Al Marai, the competition aims to nurture aspiring photographers from around the Arab World and help them develop their skills further.
The winning picture shows a group of children playing football in the midst of rubble in Beit Lahia, a city located in the Gaza Strip north of Jabalia, reflecting the challenges they face along with a mixture of emotions.
“I took this picture at a neighbourhood near where I live in Gaza of kids who come back from school every day and play football in the middle of rubble, near their homes. The picture sends the message that ‘we love to live and we have hope and see a life ahead of us that includes a bright future,’” said Al Baraway.
Have graduated from university recently, Al Baraway has a BA in Media studies, and hopes to become a full-time photographer and travel around the world to continue telling people’s stories through photography.
“I spend an average of eight hours a day taking pictures because I want to send a message through the lens. I like to reflect what I am feeling to others through my pictures, and through my photography I can also address nations and people of different groups,” he added.
Al Baraway received $10,000 worth of photography equipment along with a 10-day photography training trip to Italy with a National Geographic photographer.
“The winning picture says many things all in one frame — it shows aspirations, hope, chaos, violence and yet it shows that life still exists among all the rubble,” said Sanjay Raina, General Manager and Senior Vice-President of Fox Networks Groups (FNG).
The judging panel featured Tasneem Al Sultan, an award-winning Saudi photographer who is a professional National Geographic photographer and Hussam R. Abdul Qader, CMO, Almarai.
The competition has received over 200,000 pictures over the last eight years, and has seen a dramatic improvement in the quality of pictures submitted over the past four years, pointed out Almarai.
“There is a misconception that the youth are not connected to their history, but through their photography you see a mix of nostalgia where we are seeing old crafts and older people doing things they used to in the past, and at the same time their images reflect the daily lives of people nowadays and the political conflict passing by the Arab world,” he said.
This year’s competition also witnessed a marked increase in the number of entries from Saudi Arabia, UAE and the rest of the GCC.