Vantage Point Sharjah 5: an urban portrait of Arabia

Sharjah Art Foundation’s latest initiative asked amateurs and professional photographers to look again at the GCC

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The fifth edition of the Sharjah Art Foundation's photographic outreach initiative, Vantage Point Sharjah, opened at the Foundation's Al Mureijah Square galleries on Saturday.

Following shows on themes such as life and landscapes of Sharjah; portraits and people in the UAE; still life and self-portraiture; Vantage Point Sharjah 5 features 174 photographs taken by 63 participants who responded to an open call for images of the region's architecture and urban landscapes.

The successful entries include submissions by hobbyists, artists and tourists as well as professional photographers, and were whittled down from an initial 454 entries by Reem Shadid, who also oversaw the exhibition's installation.

"I think that contemporary art can sometimes be a little intimidating and isn't always the most accessible thing for people, and sometimes they might come here and think that the Foundation might not be their space," says Shadid, deputy director of the Foundation.

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“But one of our aims is to engage with the community to make them feel that the Sharjah Art Foundation is for them, not just as an audience but as participants, and that’s one of the reasons why we originally chose photography for Vantage Point Sharjah.”

When it started in 2013, Vantage Point Sharjah focused on images of the emirate but has since grown in popularity and now draws on photographs that are GCC-wide.

This year those participants include Apostolos Kyriazis, an assistant professor of architecture and urbanism at Abu Dhabi University, whose photograph of the Sheikh Zayed Bridge captures the structure and its symmetry from an unexpected angle; Ishaq Madan's picture of a now-demolished house in Muharraq, Bahrain; and a photograph of Dubai's cityscape, as seen from Safa Park, by the Kenyan photographer Joseph Chege. 

"The show is for people who are interested in photography and art but who might not do it professionally," Shadid says.

"Some of our participants may be professional photographers, but this is an exhibition that anybody could participate in if they wanted to."

Vantage Point Sharjah 5 runs until October 5; for more details go to