Saudi photographer makes it into National Geographic

Ammar al Amir‏ @ammar_alamir (twitter)
Updated 31 October 2017

Saudi photographer makes it into National Geographic

JEDDAH: A rare Hajj photo taken by Ammar Alamir, a young photographer from Makkah, was featured in National Geographic Magazine.
The photo depicted pilgrims in Makkah circling the Holy Kaaba while carrying colorful sun umbrellas.
Alamir, who is passionate about capturing Makkah’s beauty and heritage, has a bachelor’s degree in computer engineering from Umm Al-Qura University and works as a TV director at the Saudi Broadcasting Corporation.
He is also a member of several international photography organizations, among which are the International Federation of Photographic Art, the Global Photographic Union, the Photographic Society of America, and the World of Photography Group, which is led by Najla Angawi.
“A photographer is a silent tourist guide,” Ammar said.
His passion for photography started in 2005 when he bought his first digital camera to document family trips and capture scenic travel photos. Then, some of his photographs won contests, leading him to sell a number of them and give others as gifts to different bodies and officials.
“I did not stick to one theme,” he said. “There are many themes, and an ambitious photographer will practice all fields of photography.”
“However, capturing photos of the most sacred spot on earth could be everyone’s favorite thing to do,” he added.
“The more you reflect and learn, the wider the circle of your vision gets before you capture the shot; the secret lies in the details.”
This is portrayed in what the Egyptian novelist Tawfik Al-Hakim said: “A great photo is easy for people and difficult for the photographer.”
Alamir’s photos often win during Saudi events. “One must always be ready and prepare good photos for these events,” he said, “My photography calendar must always be synced with dates of contests.”
“Saudi Arabia gives great attention to talents and provides them with platforms through which they can express themselves,” he said, then continued, “Creative photographers must know the rules of photography, light and shadow, and other secrets that contribute to capturing an amazing, successful photo.”
Speaking about how to deal with recurring occasions that reduce the chance of capturing something new, Alamir said: “Occasions will get repeated for sure, but the photo must be new. A photographer’s spirit must not be paralyzed by repletion but rather inspired to find a new innovative idea.”
He added: “Every place provides different scenes and inspires new ideas, and behind every spot is a story. Excuses should not be part of a photographer’s agenda; he must create roses from the desert and rain from clouds, and a photo will be born on its own.”
Alamir’s portfolio is full of photos taken in the holy places of Makkah, Jabal Al-Nour, Jabal Al-Thawr, Makkah’s old neighborhoods, archaeological sites in Makkah, the Cemetery of Ma’la (Jannat Al-Mu’alla), the factory stitching the Kaaba’s gold-laced cover, Souk Okaz, Makkah and Taif’s mosques, the historical markets of Jeddah and other places inside Saudi Arabia, which he plans on publishing in one book.
He might display these photos in exhibitions inside and outside the Kingdom, and he believes that one of the main obstacles he faces is travel for attending exhibitions abroad because the photographer is responsible for the majority of his expenses.
“We live in the days of the digital revolution and the time of photos,” he said.
“Of course, the new generation is aware of the importance of photography and are sensitive and critical enough of what they see. We can deliver messages through photos, and this is widely noticed among the Saudi youth.”
“Saudi photographers have made great self-efforts, and despite the lack of specialized photography clubs, many photographers have achieved global success and organized photography trips outside Saudi Arabia, especially in India and Africa.”

Saudi Arabia’s envoy opens ‘Al-Mangour: Loved and Beloved’ exhibition in US

Princess Reema bint Bandar, Saudi Arabia’s US ambassador, opened the exhibition “Al-Mangour: Loved and Beloved” in Washington.
Updated 6 sec ago

Saudi Arabia’s envoy opens ‘Al-Mangour: Loved and Beloved’ exhibition in US

  • The work by Saudi Arabia artist Ahmad Angawi was presented by the Saudi Embassy and the International Finance Corporation
  • Al-Mangour is a traditional Hijazi craft that consists of wooden latticework forming a mesh-like screen

RIYADH: Princess Reema bint Bandar, Saudi Arabia’s US ambassador, opened the exhibition “Al-Mangour: Loved and Beloved” in Washington on Wednesday.

The work by Saudi Arabia artist Ahmad Angawi was presented by the Saudi Embassy and the International Finance Corporation.

The exhibition, held at the IFC’s headquarters, showcases the beauty of Al-Mangour, the traditional Hijazi craft that consists of wooden latticework forming a mesh-like screen.

The craft reflects the spiritual relationship between humans through a story of two halves that form one unit — the “loved and beloved.”

The exhibition included musical performances and traditional cuisine.

In her speech, Princess Reema stressed the importance of traditional arts in strengthening cultural identity and solidifying national heritage, and building bridges with other nations.

She lauded Angawi for preserving and developing the traditions of the Hijaz region.

Among those in attendance were the IFC’s Director Makhtar Diop, officials, diplomats and artists.

Saudi ambassador presents credentials to emperor of Japan

Updated 3 min 14 sec ago

Saudi ambassador presents credentials to emperor of Japan

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s ambassador to Japan, Ghazi Faisal Binzagr, on Thursday presented his diplomatic credentials to Emperor Naruhito during a reception at the Imperial Palace in Tokyo.

The envoy, who took up his post in January, conveyed to the emperor the greetings and appreciation of King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, and their best wishes to the government of Japan and its people for their continued progress and prosperity, the Kingdom’s foreign ministry said.

MDLBEAST building a creative tribe through music, says chief creative officer

Updated 11 min 53 sec ago

MDLBEAST building a creative tribe through music, says chief creative officer

  • Ahmad AlAmmary talks about MDLBEAST vision, his own musical background for 6th season of ‘The Mayman Show’

Riyadh: MDLBEAST is building a tribe for the region’s music lovers through its initiatives such as the Soundstorm festival, the platform’s Chief Creative Officer Ahmad AlAmmary, also known as DJ Baloo, said. The Saudi veteran DJ and producer with over 20 years of experience under his belt sat down with Arab News’ “The Mayman Show” for the launch of its sixth season, talking about MDLBEAST’s ambitions and his own background.

His role taps into his ability to find solutions on many levels, he shared.



“It’s been my role since the onset of this whole project. My background sits between design thinking, brand development, and brand strategy, and music,” the COO said, adding that the role feels like a perfect fit for him.

“Creatively, you know, every day is its own day. There’s no system for creativity. Its context is whatever comes your way, whatever problem you’re solving — that’s where your creativity sits,” he said.

AlAmmary said it was MDLBEAST’s goal to become involved in all facets of the creative music industry since its launch in 2019.



“From the onset, the big splash was Soundstorm, but we had every intention of launching our record labels, our music conferences, and XP Music Future,” he said.

The platform launched around the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, which provided an opportunity for it to focus on entertaining.

“So, whether or not you (could) go to an event, we were still around there to … provide the music and to provide the entertainment,” AlAmmary said.

After pandemic restrictions eased, it allowed him and the team to stay on the path they paved. MDLBEAST started with flagship live events and some record labels.



“We had … launched MDLBEAST Records, Qabo, Wattar, Maestro-Lab and, most recently, Mahoul Records. Each of these labels, for example, serves … a niche. Above and beyond, our conference is a really unique experience that gathers people from around the region. We have a day and night experience. During the day, it’s all about learning and networking, connecting, and collaborating. And at night, that turns into a regional music showcase,” AlAmmary said.

MDLBEAST highlights up-and-coming brands that are leading the underground scene of Saudi music across a variety of genres, the COO said.

“It’s just been, you know, a lot of fun … but also a lot of … work. We’re turning around projects left and right,” he said, adding that the platform is now “diving into venues” with the launch of Beast House, for example, “Riyadh’s first music and creative members club,” according to the MDLBEAST website.



“We developed these smaller pop-up events, with more intimate settings,” AlAmmary said, explaining that the events take place in spaces that have been abandoned, giving MDLBEAST space to flex its creative muscles.

“We can take over and create an experience that is very unique,” he said. “We saw that with Tahlia in Jeddah and Irqah in Riyadh, the abandoned hospital … We’re looking at all of these different spaces and projects as … fun experiences that we can create for our people and platforms for musicians to shine.”

Speaking about his own background, AlAmmary says he owes his creative attributes to his very musical family.



“My eldest brother, Khalid, actually, he was kind of like the cultural center of our family. Everything from film to music, design, art, you know, we always had a deep interest in the arts because of his influence. Especially with me and house music — that’s where I learned it. I learned it from Khalid,” he said.

The DJ and producer developed an interest in music at an early age.

“By the time I was 17, I already had a collection of music,” he said. “Years later, you know, I started to get things like a residency in Bahrain … I would just travel to Beirut and the gigs would appear.”


3rd European Film Festival set to launch in Saudi

Updated 18 min 44 sec ago

3rd European Film Festival set to launch in Saudi

  • VOX Cinemas will host 21 European films over the one-week event
  • The line-up features movies that have won awards including Oscars and the Palme d’Or, the highest prize awarded at the Cannes Film Festival

RIYADH: The third European Film Festival begins next week, taking place in both Riyadh and Jeddah for the first time.
The event, which will run from May 29 to June 6, is being launched by the European Union Delegation to the Kingdom in conjunction with the embassies of EU member states and Arabia Pictures.
It will be hosted at VOX Cinemas Century Corner in Riyadh and the newly opened VOX Cinemas Jeddah Park in Jeddah.
This year the festival is bigger than ever, with 21 European films from countries including Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Lithuania, Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain and Sweden.
The line-up features movies that have won awards including Oscars and the Palme d’Or, the highest prize awarded at the Cannes Film Festival.
EU Ambassador to Saudi Arabia Christophe Farnaud said: “I am glad that the European Film Festival has become a landmark event on the Kingdom’s cultural calendar. The festival has been expanding year by year and this time around we are not only showcasing more movies, but also bringing the festival to Jeddah. I hope that this will allow even more Saudi film enthusiasts to attend the festival’s many film screenings and side events.”
Ahmed Teama, CEO of Arabia Pictures, expressed his pleasure at extending the collaboration with the EU Delegation to Saudi Arabia for a third consecutive year.
He lauded the festival as one of the most significant cinematic events in the Kingdom, highlighting its unique appeal to a devoted audience of international cinema enthusiasts.
Aimed at facilitating cultural exchange and promoting European cinema, the festival will also foster contacts between European and Saudi filmmakers.
Among the guests will be Oscar-winning Austrian film director Stefan Ruzowitzky, who will give a special masterclass.
Also attending will be director Kyriakos Tofaridis and screenwriter/director Mijke de Jong as well as Robert Higgins and Patrick McGivney, from Cyprus, the Netherlands and Ireland respectively, who will meet the audiences and run an open conversation with filmmakers and film enthusiasts.
All side-events are free of charge and will take place at VOX Cinemas Century Corner in Riyadh.
Cinema enthusiast Meshal Al-Mutairi told Arab News: “I have seen movies during previous EU film fests and like their movie selection.”
For more information about the festival program or to buy tickets, visit or

Saudi foreign minister holds talks with Austrian, Ethiopian counterparts

Updated 18 min 25 sec ago

Saudi foreign minister holds talks with Austrian, Ethiopian counterparts

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan on Thursday received his Austrian counterpart Alexander Schallenberg in Riyadh, the Kingdom’s foreign ministry said.

At the beginning of the meeting, Prince Faisal welcomed Schallenberg and his accompanying delegation, wishing them a pleasant stay.

The two sides reviewed ties between the Kingdom and Austria, and ways to support and enhance relations, in addition to exchanging views on regional and international issues.

Prince Faisal also received the Ethiopian Foreign Minister Taye Atske Selassie for talks on developing bilateral ties and joint cooperation, the foreign ministry said.