In the spirit of UAE National Day, three photographers set out on a journey to shoot different portraits across the nation. They selected a handful of Emirati individuals who have exemplified what it means to ‘give’ – be it through their corporate social responsibility acts, their volunteer work, or just by simply serving their country.
Carrying just their iPhones, photographers Huda Bin Redha, Noora Almur, and Altamash Javed, travelled all around the country to capture five different subjects who have made a positive contribution to the UAE.
Noora Almur took portraits of Saeed Khamis Al Suwaidi, who is a genealogist and is working as a Research Expert at the National Archives. He has published the updated family tree of Al Nahyan, The Ruling Family of Abu Dhabi, and is now focusing his efforts on the “Almawrooth” initiative.
As a genealogist, Al Suwaidi studies Emirati family history and traces their lineages and history.
“It started in 2005, when one of my friends asked me about my family tree and I was completely clueless with no background or context to share. The next day I went to my grandfather and asked him all these questions trying to know as much as I can about my origins. It was that moment when I decided I wanted to document family histories so the stories could live on from generation to generation.” said Al Suwaidi.
“The UAE means everything to me. My entire goal is to connect Emiratis back to their roots. By doing that, we’re uniting the whole community.”
The Al Matroushi sisters have taken it upon themselves to rescue the stray animals of the UAE. From cats to camels, they’re always on call ready to take on the next challenge.
They started a Facebook account, New Life Rescue, where people can adopt some of the animals that have been rescued, and offer their support.
“We started our volunteering work when we cared for two small kittens who were left abandoned close to our home. Since then, we knew we had to educate the local community as well as pet owners about stray animals and why it’s so important to have them around in the economy,” Hind said.
Abeer, who was captured by Huda bin Redha, works as a Fitness Development Manager at Zabeel Ladies Club, a cross fit trainer and the co-founder of AnaGowRunning club, which offers free running classes open to all.
“Being a woman in the sports field in the UAE has been a great experience. There has been a tremendous amount of support from our leaders, from the various sports associations and the community,” Abeer said.
Huda bin Redha captured Heba and Shouq bin Redha and Abeer Al Khaja. While Altamash captured Suad Alhammadi and Hind and Marwa.
The bin Redha sisters wanted to show a different view of the UAE that goes beyond the the biggest mall and tallest building. They wanted to highlight the history, heritage, and rich culture that this country has to offer.
They soon launched “Emirati Khastas”, meaning journeys, a platform for Emirati tour guides to come together and promote tourism within the UAE. Heba and Shouq take people on ‘authentic’ experiences to explore the hidden gems of the Emirates through the eyes of an Emirati.
Their tours range from heritage walks between the narrow alleys of the oldest neighborhood in Dubai, Al Fahidi District, and extend to a ‘local neighborhood walk’ in an area dominated by Emiratis.
“December 2 comes every year as a reminder of our unity and not just for Emiratis but for everyone living here, locals and residents. It’s a reminder that we have to always be united as citizens living in the UAE, working towards the best of the country as well as the best of the world,” Shouq said.
And the last subject, Suaad Alhammadi (captured by Altamash), wears multiple hats. She is a young professional working as a planning officer at Sheikh Khalifa Specialty Hospital (SKSH), the UAE youth ambassador to South Korea and is the 2015 winner of the “UAE Outstanding Youth Award”.