Shooting Saudi: Meet the Jeddah-based photography group Raw Shooters

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Raw Shooters’ each photo walk attracts more and more people and the group now boasts more than 30 members. (Photo/Supplied)
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Raw Shooters usually give a theme to each walk. For example, on a recent outing they opted for ‘Ant Eye,’ resulting in extreme close-ups of various objects. (Photos/Supplied)
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Raw Shooters usually give a theme to each walk. For example, on a recent outing they opted for ‘Ant Eye,’ resulting in extreme close-ups of various objects. (Photos/Supplied)
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Raw Shooters usually give a theme to each walk. For example, on a recent outing they opted for ‘Ant Eye,’ resulting in extreme close-ups of various objects. (Photos/Supplied)
Updated 29 December 2018

Shooting Saudi: Meet the Jeddah-based photography group Raw Shooters

  • Passionate team freezes beautiful memories with the help of cameras as it experiences the soul of Al-Balad

“There are no rules for good photographs, there are only good photographs,” the acclaimed American photographer Ansel Adams once said. Raw Shooters, a photography group based in Jeddah, seems to follow this principle to the letter.
Raw Shooters was initiated by Amr Talat. One day, he casually posted on Instagram, saying he would be taking a photo walk in Jeddah’s historical Al-Balad district, adding that if anyone was interested in joining him, they were welcome to do so.
That simple snowball turned into an avalanche. Each photo walk since has attracted more and more people, and the group now boasts over 30 members.
We joined Raw Shooters last Saturday, on their latest walk around Al-Balad, an area known for its rich history. We did not intend to stay for long, but the beautiful weather and the great company made it hard to keep track of time, and we ended up staying for the duration.
The Raw Shooters usually give a theme to each walk. For example, on a recent outing they opted for “Ant Eye,” resulting in extreme close-ups of various objects, creating pictures that might represent the world as seen by an ant.

Creativity
On our walk, the concept was to take three pictures that tell a story. Talat’s passion for photography — and for the group he started — was clear from the beginning, as he talked with each new arrival. Raw Shooters is all about creativity, he explained.
No fancy gear or formal training is required. Participants can simply use their phone cameras, if they want to.
Talat told the gathered group to go and explore the town without fear.
“You cannot get lost here,” he added reassuringly. And with that we ventured deep into the heart of Al-Balad, exploring demolished buildings, rusted signs, closed-down shops, tiny stores, and so much more.
Of course, almost all Jeddah residents will have visited Al-Balad, but this experience — not rushing around, nor bothered by traffic — really allowed us to see the beauty of the area — the historic architecture, the colors of the windows, the painted walls. And we were able to freeze those memories in time with the help of our cameras.
We all headed off for coffee, and we took the chance to talk to some of the group members.
“I started photography when I was 14 years old,” Talat told us.
“But the first picture I took was with my eyes — and I still have it clearly in my memory. It was a blind man who was selling silly stuff on the streets and for some reason I got really attached to him. From that moment, I started nagging my parents for a camera. And I still carry my first camera with me.”
He knows the streets of Al-Balad like the back of his hand, having spent so much time here since he was a child.
“In Balad, you find the street life that you don’t usually find on the other side of Jeddah,” he said. “My childhood memories just add to the area’s value, for me.”

Best experience
It’s been almost a year since Raw Shooters took their first walk, and Talat is happy that he’s helping people become better photographers.
“The best experiences are when the first timers or beginners are doubting their photography skills and after the walk and during the discussions we find out their true talent,” he said. “The fact that this space and opportunity helps them believe in themselves is what keeps me coming every week.
“Our reasons for doing this are simple,” he continued. “First of all, we just want to spend our Saturday morning doing something we love and connecting to people, and secondly it’s about telling stories of people and things. And walking through Al-Balad is like walking through history itself.”
Ghassan Daghestani has not missed a single Raw Shooters walk since they started. He had seen Talat around (“Whenever I saw him he was with his camera and I was with mine,” he said), and jumped at the chance to spend some time on the streets with like-minded people.
“I started exploring photography when I bought my first camera. I carried it everywhere with me and that made me fall in love with street photography, and then I further developed my skills,” he explained. “But when I was working professionally, just for clients, it made me hate photography. I was not doing anything for myself. Joining this group reminded me how much I enjoy photography.”
The group has helped Daghestani break out of his comfort zone, he said, and do something he loves with people who share the same interests. He continued: “I like the surprises the streets carry, I like to go down the unpredictable streets and wait for stories to happen, then deliver those stories to the people.
“We were lucky to experience the soul of Al-Balad before they started ‘renewing’ it, and since we are documenting the changes happening here, people can experience it too.”
The next day, the Raw Shooters gathered to share their images from the previous day. Each set of three photos was shown to the group, who tried to guess the story behind them.
It was a gathering of passionate people doing something they love and appreciating the work of others. As they transitioned from photographers to storytellers, their faces lit up.
To experience the whole thing first hand was something our team will always remember.


Misk Initiatives Center signs 12 deals to develop youth talent

Updated 15 November 2019

Misk Initiatives Center signs 12 deals to develop youth talent

  • MoUs with top firms such as Chinese tech giant Huawei, French oil major Total open new opportunities

RIYADH: The Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s Foundation Misk Initiatives Center has signed 12 memorandums of understanding (MoU) on the sidelines of the Misk Global Forum in Riyadh with local and international companies to support and develop youth talent.

Among the companies were the Chinese tech giant Huawei, the French oil firm Total, the Emirati Federal Youth Authority, and the Ministry of Economy and Planning.

The agreements stipulated joint work between the two parties in the fields of talent development in Saudi Arabia and information and communications technology, in accordance with the National Transformation Program 2020 and the Kingdom’s Vision 2030. 

This initiative aims to find ways of cooperation and employment opportunities between the two parties.

The MoU signed between the center and the Emirati Federal Youth Authority provides for the enhancement of joint cooperation in support of youth. 

The two parties will seek to discuss future cooperation, to build a strategic partnership between the two parties in exploring potential cooperative opportunities and setting a framework for such cooperation, in addition to organizing the exchange of technologies and innovations through the joint organization of courses, forums and workshops.

The MoU aims at creating a specialized scientific dialogue between the two parties, conducting joint research at the institutes in the field of entrepreneurship and the skills of the future, considering launching joint initiatives, and examining the possibilities of cooperative programs based on the extensive experience of Misk and the Federal Youth Authority.

Misk’s Initiatives Center agreement with Total will promote joint cooperation, find training opportunities for Saudi talent at the company’s headquarters and facilities, and cooperate on educational programs that support entrepreneurship and an ecosystem for startup companies, especially in the fields of energy and technology.

The Misk Global Forum also witnessed the signing of a MoU with “Hub71” to promote learning and leadership among Saudi youth, and enhance opportunities for joint collaboration, in addition to two MoUs with 500 startups and seed stars “to promote joint cooperation between the two parties, to develop and grow the business of startups and provide them with the necessary
environment.”

Misk also signed a MoU with the Public Institution for Education and Global Leadership to promote joint cooperation and achieve the objectives of both sides, to support innovation initiatives that instill the entrepreneurial mindset of young people, as well as the establishment and organization of entrepreneurship approaches. 

Both parties agreed to focus on exploring potential collaborative opportunities related to the Entrepreneurship World Cup, and establish a competition with competitors coming from 170 countries.

Both parties also agreed to support international competitions aimed at identifying the best solutions in various fields and sectors, as well as exchanging programs on entrepreneurship and innovation.

The center has signed a MoU with the Saudi Industrial Development Fund to discuss the possibility of providing training programs and courses for the center’s employees of the Fund and the relevant authorities. In addition to discussing available opportunities for cooperative training within the Fund, and providing opportunities for participation and contribution of the Fund’s staff in Misk’s programs.

The MoU aims to explore the benefits of existing agreements between the two parties with international financial and educational institutions, in order to find opportunities that provide programs, training and educational courses, and granting cooperative trainings for Saudi youth in those global institutions.

The center also signed a MoU with the Islamic Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (ISESCO), aiming to enhance joint cooperation on educational technology and its integration into the educational systems in the Islamic world.

An MoU with King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) will enhance the cooperation between the two parties in several initiatives, including academic development, training, entrepreneurship and innovation programs.

An MoU with Endeavor Saudi Arabia will support the Kingdom’s youth, enhance their talents and potential, stimulate economic growth, and find ways of cooperation between the two parties that serve their common interests.

The center’s MoU with the Ministry of Economy and Planning aims to spread awareness, provide new information on the education and training of human resources in the administrative and economic fields, youth empowerment, and coordinate efforts to raise their abilities.

The MoU aims to create cooperative training opportunities in local and international institutions with the purpose of workforce growth in the Kingdom’s economic sector, contributing to the development of national competencies in the economy, policies and procedures, strategic planning, in addition to providing job opportunities for graduates from areas that serve the interests of both parties and support the achievement of the Kingdom’s Vision 2030.