Dubai: The second edition of the Hamdan International Photography Award (Hipa) with a prize of US$120,000 (Dh440,777), the highest of its kind in the world, was announced on June 19.

Held under the patronage of Shaikh Hamdan Bin Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai, the second edition, like its inaugural 2011 edition, aims to secure its place in the creative global arena. The award positions the emirate as a hub of culture and serves as a tool to promote its artistic vision, supporting photographers around the world, including Emirati talent.

The new theme, ‘Beauty of Light’, also the category of the grand prize, requires submissions to illustrate the effective use of light. In addition, there are three more categories — General, Emirates, and Black and White, and two special awards to appreciate work towards photography and research in photography.

Speaking to Gulf News, Sahar Al Zarei, Assistant Secretary General of Hipa, said that the award is reaching out to people across the world. “We will participate in international photography events leading up to the date of submission [September 1, 2012].”

Nurturing local talent

She explained that the award’s strategy is to nurture Emirati talent which has benefited from photography training facilities and associations launched in the past few years in the country. “In the early 1990s, we barely had any Emirati photographers. Last year almost 2,000 of the 6,000 selected entries were Emirati. At Hipa, we hope to tap this local talent and promote UAE exhibitions in the country and abroad, fostering cultural exchange between countries.”

In the debut award, two winning contestants were disqualified because they violated the entry guidelines which state photographs that have previously won awards, or those that have been used for commercial purposes are not accepted. When asked whether there are measures to prevent such incidents from reoccurring this year, Sahar said that Hipa plans to increase efforts to help achieve best practice.

“We have highlighted this rule. We also plan to raise awareness about the guidelines and promote the award in the coming months through road shows and exhibitions in the region and internationally in countries, including Germany, China, India, Washington, Bangladesh and Malaysia,” she said.