Tarek Al-Ghoussein's quest to photograph all 215 of Abu Dhabi islands

“At one point I wanted to stop,” he says. “I had to force myself to keep going.”

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Tarek Al-Ghoussein's latest project started, he says, when he read in The National that Abu Dhabi has 215 islands. "215?" he recalls. "I thought, I've lived here five years, and in the UAE for 20, and had no idea about that number. It blew me away."

It happened to be just before the Abu Dhabi Music & Arts Foundation were closing a commission for works based on nature. Al-Ghoussein quickly put together a proposal, and, when it was awarded, he began making the series Odysseus: photographic documentation of all 215 of Abu Dhabi's outlying islands.

“The experience has been incredible,” he says. Two years on, he’s now up to about 30 islands, and is exhibiting part of the project at Warehouse421. About half of the islands are uninhabited, but, he says, “I’ve met people from the islands who have been so helpf