High Hopes: Winners of HIPA photography awards 2019

‘Mother’s Hope,’ by Edwin Ong Wee Kee of Malaysia. (Photo courtesy HIPA)
Updated 27 March 2019

High Hopes: Winners of HIPA photography awards 2019

  • Selected highlights from the eighth edition of the UAE-based photography prize

The eighth season of the Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum International Photography Awards (HIPA) concluded on March 12 with a prize-giving ceremony at Dubai Opera House at which the winners were announced. The theme of this year’s awards was ‘Hope,’ but, as always, photographers could also enter the ‘General’ category (for either black-and-white or color images). There were two further categories this year as well: Aerial Photography (video) and Portfolio. Here, we present a selection of highlights from the winning entries.

1. Grand Prize Winner

“Mother’s Hope”

Edwin Ong Wee Kee — Malaysia

The overall winner of this year’s HIPA awards was Kee’s image of a Vietnamese mother of two carrying her two babies. The woman has a speech disorder, Kee explained in his artist’s statement, but “stays strong for the sake of her children.”

“Holding a one-month-old baby behind her and a two-year-old baby in her arms, life must go on. When life gets tough, the tough get going. That’s how this mother overcomes her daily hardships. However, her life is full of hope when she is looking down at her children.”

2. ‘Hope.’ 1st Winner

“A Stormy Day”

Fanny Octavianus — Indonesia

In Octavianus’s picture from 2010, a young boy plays in a flooded street after heavy rains hit the island city of Sabang in Central Jakarta.

3. ‘Hope.’ 3rd Winner

“Bathtub Amongst The Rubble”

Wissam Nassar — Palestine

Taken in June 2015, Nassar’s winning entry shows 30-year-old Salem Saoody bathing his daughter Layan (left) and his niece Shaymaa in “the last remaining piece of his damaged home — his bathtub.” The family now live in a caravan near their destroyed house, Nassar reported.

4. Aerial Photography. 2nd Winner

“The Great Return March”

Sulaiman Hejji — Palestine

On March 30, 2018, Hejji explained, the Palestinians began “a new form of peaceful popular struggle demanding their right to return to the territories from which they were expelled in 1948. These were the largest peaceful marches on the borders between the Gaza Strip and Israel.”

5. General: Black-and-white. 1st Winner

“The Old Man And The Cat”

Aun Raza — France

Raza visited Tashkent in Uzbekistan to capture this image of an elderly resident outside of his Soviet-era apartment block. It was, Raza said, “A moment of solitude and mystery in what was once one of the mythical regions of the Silk route.”

6. General: Color. 3rd Winner


Abdullah Alshatti — Kuwait

Alshatti’s prize-winning image captures a group of flamingos searching for food in Kuwait’s coastal area of Alsulaibekhat, which is, he explained, “rich in crustraceans and shrimp.”

7. General: Color. 2nd Winner

“An Unlikely Encounter”

Karim Iliya — USA

Iliya’s picture shows an underwater meeting between a freedriver and a baby humpback whale off the coast of Tonga. Although the baby is less than two months old, it is already bigger than a car. “This playful giant swam around us while his mother rested below,” Iliya explained. The whales were gathering strength for their long swim back to Antarctica.

8. Portfolio. 5th Winner

“The Kazakh Eagle Hunters of Mongolia”

Sarah Wouters — Netherlands

Wouters’ collection of images told the story of a group of eagle hunters living in Mongolia, who “preserve an old tradition that has been passed on from generation to generation.” Before the fall of communism, these Kazakh families were nomadic, travelling between their homeland, Russia and Mongolia, until the borders were closed. Wouters’ images were taken at the annual Eagle Hunter Festival.

Writing’s on the wall for unsightly graffiti in 36 Saudi cities

Updated 21 July 2019

Writing’s on the wall for unsightly graffiti in 36 Saudi cities

  • 5,700 students tapped to replace graffiti with traditional art
  • The massive spruce-up operation will take place in southwest region of Asir

RIYADH: An initiative to clear unsightly graffiti from the walls of 36 Saudi cities and replace it with traditional art has been officially launched.

A 5,700-strong army of students will be drafted for the massive spruce-up operation to take place over a period of 36 hours across the Kingdom’s southwest region of Asir.

Once the walls have been cleaned, the second phase of the project will involve raising awareness about the importance of maintaining public spaces, with the city of Abha the first to benefit. There, a length of wall covering more than 2,000 square meters, will be decorated.

The scheme is partly aimed at encouraging Asir youth to become proactive citizens in their own cities, and role models for other provinces.


The scheme aims to encourage Asir youth to become proactive citizens in their own cities, and role models for other provinces.

Students from seven education administrations in the region will clean walls on main and side roads, and also suburbs, in 36 cities.

An official statement issued by Asir regional authorities, said the objectives behind the Asir campaign were “to encourage social responsibility among its citizens, empower youth to participate in activities that bring out their potential, and to increase awareness of responsibility toward public ownership.”

Students from seven education administrations in the region will clean walls on main and side roads, and also suburbs, in 36 cities.

Many of the walls will then be decked out with art works including Al-Qatt Al-Asiri, a traditionally female interior wall decoration. In 2017, the ancient art form was added to the UNESCO List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.

The statement added that Asir had been embracing cultural art for decades, and Al-Qatt Al-Asiri was now identified with the Asir region around the world. The British Museum and other major international exhibition centers have been acquiring the work of Asir artists in recent years.

Attending the launch of the initiative in Abha, Dr. Walid Al-Humaidi, the secretary of Asir region, said: “This initiative is part of objectives to improve the urban landscape, which is one of the most important programs of national transformation in the municipal sector in line with the Kingdom’s Vision 2030.”

He added that the second part of the project aimed to increase awareness about the value of artwork and its role in developing a sense of human belonging.