Saudi Arabia’s Visual Arts Commission has announced the winners of the inaugural $106,000 Kingdom Photography Professional Grant and Kingdom Photography Discovery Competition.
Open to established photographers from around the world, the grants are designed to enable the creation of a professional photographic archive of the region. For its first year, the initiative is focusing on the Al Wajh area along the Red Sea coast, in the north-west of Saudi Arabia.
The grants are divided into three categories: underwater, nature along the coast and urban environment.
Alex Dawson, a scuba diver and photographer who lives in Stockholm, won the award for underwater photography. Australian photographer Nyree Cox won in the urban environment category. Art photographer Andrea Alkalay, who lives in Buenos Aires, won in the coastal photography category.
The winners were commissioned to create a professional photographic archive of Al Wajh.
They will also join a distinguished roster of judges who will evaluate the final submissions for the Kingdom Photography Discovery Competition.
The competition, running in parallel to the Kingdom Photography Grant, is open to early and mid-career photographers from Saudi Arabia shooting images of the region. It is an opportunity for individuals living in the kingdom to develop their photographic skills by engaging with the Professional Grant winners through a series of collaborative workshops and masterclasses in the three categories.
Submissions will be evaluated by a judging panel, which comprises photography luminaries from Saudi Arabia and around the world. This includes environmental photographer Daniel Beltra, who lives in the US and is a fellow of the prestigious International League of Conservation Photographers with a focus on aerial landscape photography; prominent photographic consultant Zein Khalifa, founder of Tintera photography gallery in Cairo; Saudi photographer Moath Alofi; and Abdullah Al-Turki, founding member of the Saudi Art Council and member of Tate’s Middle East and North Africa Acquisition Committee and the Serpentine’s Future Contemporaries. Al-Turki is also a member of the Solomon R Guggenheim Museum’s Middle Eastern Circle and is a known collector of contemporary photography.
The panel has shortlisted 21 photographers for Saudi Arabia's inaugural landscape photography award. Winners of the Kingdom Photography Professional Grant and Kingdom Photography Discovery Competition will receive a combined total of $106,000 in cash prizes, alongside further physical prizes worth a combined total of $53,000.
The winning works will be exhibited at Hayy Jameel in Jeddah. The exhibition, organised by the Visual Arts Commission, is due to take place in December.
"We are delighted to have such a prestigious group of local and international photography stars joining the panel of judges of the inaugural edition of the Kingdom Photography Award and are grateful for their role in helping to select this year’s nominees," Dina Amin, chief executive of the Visual Arts Commission, said.
"The Kingdom Photography Award is an incredible opportunity for Saudi photographers to hone their art, as well as interact and share knowledge with the global photography community,” Beltra said. “I have been impressed by the large number of submissions to the award’s inaugural edition. The richness and diversity of the Red Sea’s environment is awe-inspiring and I look forward to seeing the exhibition of works later in the year."