The winners of the 2021 Hamdan Bin Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum International Photography Award (Hipa) have been announced.
Since 2011, Hipa has hosted annual competitions to find the most arresting images from around the world, and for the 2021 iteration of the Instagram Photo Contest, it has unearthed four powerful images.
Working to a theme of Nostalgia, the four winners reflect the global ambitions of the competition, coming from the UAE, Saudi Arabia, India and Iran.
In a statement announcing the winners, the Hipa secretary general Ali Bin Thalith explained the power of the theme, saying: "Nostalgia evokes so much, not only for those looking at the photograph but also the photographer themselves.
“Nostalgia can make us smile with joy, or sadness all at the same time. Like a time capsule, it has the ability to take us back in time or make us reflect on the future.”
One of the winners is Emirati photographer Ahmed Obaid Alnaqbi, with an image of two people taken at Masafi in Fujairah. In shooting the image, Alnaqbi explained that he wanted to capture “the traditions and simple old model of life in the UAE”.
The black and white image features a smiling woman holding a traditional Emirati fan, while a man, dressed in a thobe, sits in the background. It was taken in January 2021.
The next winner is Fahad Abdulaziz Aloudah from Saudi Arabia, with his portrait of an elderly man showing off his military medals. Simply dressed in a vest and battered hat, the man holds a picture of his younger self. Taken in June 2019 in Trinidad, Cuba, the man was, Aloudah explains, “ex-military who keeps, and is proud of the medals awarded to him for his military engagements".
A third winner is Gaanesh Prasad from India, for his image of a caravan of camels.
Taken in Port Stephens, New South Wales in Australia, Prasad captured the image in March 2016. In black and white, the image is devoid of any other detail other than the camels, their riders and the reflections.
The enigmatic image leaves the viewer wondering if the animals are being reflected in water or heat haze. Of the image, Prasad said: “I felt a connection with the Dubai desert through the scene in the photo and it really made me nostalgic for it.”
The final winner is Ahmad Salehi from Iran, who was awarded for his portrait of an elderly woman, taken in 2013.
While working on a social documentary about older generations from Isfahan, he met “an old woman who lives alone in a country house", who died in 2017.
Salehi's image captures the woman carefully dusting images that have been placed on a shelf. With her back to the viewer, we are unable to judge her mood at that precise moment, so we are left wondering if she is happy to reconnect with the images, or is filled with pathos.