UAE’s story, one image at a time, through the lens of royal photographer Noor Ali Rashid

First recognised as an official photographer by the British in 1959, Rashid built a reputation as the royal or Sheikhs’ photographer. He was there for every milestone in the UAE’s history, capturing the ordinary and the extraordinary.

His documentary and historic images, along with his more artistic side, including images only now made public, can be seen at Lasting Impressions, an annual exhibition at Sharjah Art Museum to recognise the significant contributions of artists who have changed the face of contemporary art.

UAE’s story, one image at a time

By Rym Ghazal for The National UAE. Published November 9, 2014.

This year is the fifth exhibition in the series and serves as a retrospective of Noor Ali Rashid (1929-2010), who is considered the father of photojournalism and street photography in the UAE and served as royal photographer at the invitation of the late Sheikh Zayed.

“One of the things I hope this exhibition of my father’s work illustrates is that he was more than just a royal photographer …

I wanted to demystify that image, and show his artistic and personal touches in every photo, where often you can see his sense of humour and how each photo has multiple stories. The longer you look, the more stories a single image tells you.

My father left behind more than a million photographs and images and our family has formed the Noor Ali Rashid Archives as a way to accumulate, preserve, catalogue and present the legacy of images that so adeptly captured the formative years of our nation in the faces of everyone from the man fishing in the creek to Sheikh Zayed himself.”

– Shamsa Noor Ali Rashid, Chairperson of the Noor Ali Rashid Archives and Curator of the Exhibition.

On display until December 6 are 238 images, selected from 350,000 photos that have been digitised so far. Both black and white and colour, they are divided into different themes, such as “portrait of a life”, a compilation of Noor Ali Rashid’s earliest and largest known bodies of street photography from the 1940s to the 1970s that include souqs, life on water, architecture, travellers, crafts, animals, celebrations and children’s toys.

Next is Building the Nation, delving deep into the photographer’s encounter with the developing story of the UAE and the encounter with Sheikh Zayed that resulted in him becoming royal photographer.

Traveling the World brings the public never viewed photographs of my father’s travels to more than 35 countries, from the coronation of the shah of Iran to a candid portrait of the American star Ava Gardner on a 1950s trip to Karachi, Pakistan,” said Ms Rashid.


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