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DTCM Display Pictorial History Of Dubai By The First Emirati Female Photographer At Heritage Village During DSF-2012
(14 January 2012)
Photographs, taken in 1950s and 1960s, highlights old world charm of Dubai


 

The Dubai Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM), as part of its 17th successive year participation in the Dubai Shopping Festival (DSF), has put on public display the pictorial history of Dubai by the first Emirati female photographer at the Heritage Village in Al Shindagha, offering delightful insights into the old world charm of Dubai.

The photographic exhibition is part of programmes lined up by the DTCM for the DSF-2012 at the heritage villages in Al Shindagha and Hatta. The exhibition will run until February 5 and is open to the public from 5 pm to 10 pm.

Twenty photographs, taken in 1950s and 1960s by Sheikha Al Suwaidi, depicts the lifestyles of the yore and the day to day scenes of the Emiratis in addition to capturing the tragedy of a huge fire that occurred in the 1950s in front of the Ruler’s Office facing the Dubai Creek.

Mr. Khalid bin Gharib, Director Hatta Heritage Village and Chairman of DTCM’s Committee for DSF-2012 Programmes, said the works of Sheikha Al Suwaidi, who is now 77, reflects on the rich history, culture and traditions of Dubai and also shows the Emirati women’s creative skills and innovative approach.

Early this month, Sheikha Al Suwaidi was honoured as the Mother of All Photographers by the Union of Arab Photographers which organized an exhibition of her works at the Dubai International’s Gate 1 of Departures building. The exhibition was hosted as part of the celebrations to mark the 6th Accession Day of H.H Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai. Sheikh Mohammed selected Mother as the theme of the celebrations to honour the great role played by women in nation building and raising the standards of society. Her selected works were earlier displayed at the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) about the life and times of Dubai dating back from the 1940s and 1950s.

Four photographs taken by Sheikh Al Suwaidi have been displayed for the first time on public display at the Heritage Village. All photographs capture the daily life of Dubai of the past decades in black and white.

Sheikha Al Suwaidi, who took photography as a hobby to capture the life and times of the emirate for posterity, thanked the DTCM for its initiative to highlight the varied traditions of Dubai to thousands of residents and visitors who visit the heritage sites in Al Shindagha complex. She said most of the photographs she took were about the people and their daily activities in the vicinity of her home and neighbourhood.

At the beginning of her photography pursuits, she borrowed camera from an Indian expatriate working in a shipping company and took photographs of whatever fascinated her and was later encouraged by two British expatriates to pursue photography seriously. Later, she bought an Agfa automatic camera to carry on with her photography pursuits which took many by surprise as she went on with her work dressed in traditional Abaya and face partly hidden in veil.

Her photographs covered the docking of ships at the Dubai Creek and pearling and business scenes in the emirate. Her first photograph was of her mother at the age of 17 and as she grasped the technicalities of photography. This photograph was taken about 65 years ago. “I stood with my mother in front of the camera by keeping it in delay mode. After that I began to shoot pictures of myself with my neighbours and friends, first in Frig Murar and than in Bur Dubai. I also took photographs of fishing vessels and trading at the Dubai port in addition to nurses who came to Dubai for the first time,” said Sheikha Al Suwaidi.

She also captured the hustle and bustle of the Indian port city of Bombay (now Mumbai) where she saw electricity for the first time in her life. She also photographed the popular dances of India. She travelled to India in a traditional Arabian ship in the 1950s and enjoyed every bit of her journey although it was for a medical treatment in a hospital.

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