My UAE: Reem Saeed is getting the photography picture

A profile of the Emirati photographer Reem Saeed.
Reem Saeed is the founder of the website MobipixUAE and aims to document Emirati life. Ravindranath K / The National
Reem Saeed is the founder of the website MobipixUAE and aims to document Emirati life. Ravindranath K / The National

Where do you spend your time? For Reem Saeed, it’s on the road. The Dubai-based Emirati has a photographic eye. To her, photography serves many purposes – from making memories to recording changes and capturing moments that are impossible to ­reproduce.

Her photographs focus on social aspects of the UAE. Saeed commutes from one emirate to another to discover the ­undiscovered.

“All of my trips are ‘trips of discovery’,” says the corporate social responsibility manager. “I love documenting old neighbourhoods because, sooner or later, all of these will be demolished.”

One of her most memorable trips was to a village called Bathna in ­Fujairah.

“I never knew we had such villages. People lived a very simple life. Women walked around without their abayas.”

Her goal is to document places where her grandparents and families lived 50 years ago. She wishes to raise awareness among the future generation of the lifestyle of their ancestors, introducing her land’s rich history to non-UAE residents.

Her interest was sparked by her father’s passion for photography. He would travel to London in the 1970s to print out negatives.

“My father took photography seriously. He took photos of us growing up – interesting moments, photos of travel,” she says. “He would also make sure to write down the dates on the photo.”

To promote photography, she’s founded MobipixUAE ( Currently, she’s working on Sharjah1000, a project revealing the emirate’s hidden beauty.

“Today, not all professionals carry their heavy cameras when travelling. Smartphones have replaced them, making the task easier. You can share your photos through social media.”

What camera do you use?

A Canon 5D Mark II.

What principle do you live by?

My principle is to never delay making your dreams come true, no matter what circumstances prevent you from achieving what you want to achieve. There is a sense of creativity in all of us; it’s some of us who choose to develop that and showcase it instead of hiding it and never giving audiences a chance to enjoy it.

Who is your role model?

My father.

Which emirate did you enjoy photographing the most?

The east coast and villages because culture is still pretty much preserved the way I remember it to be. In addition to all the natural beauty – mountains, streams when rain falls, pretty UAE national trees – ghaf, samra and sidr – which are widely distributed there. Also what caught my attention is the style of houses there – lots of them still use the coloured patterned doors, which, in my opinion and many others, are simply works of art.

Which book would you recommend to improve photography skills?

One of the books is Within the Frame: The Journey of Photographic Vision by David duChemin. Online videos are also beneficial. Sharing your work with others to get feedback and critique is very useful. Practise, try to be different and don’t be afraid to explore new arenas.

What’s your favourite photo gallery?

Alserkal Avenue is my main destination, for all galleries are located there; plus Sharjah Art Foundation.

What car do you drive when you go on your road trips?

A Toyota FJ Cruiser.

Which social media do you use the most to showcase your and others photography talent?

I have initiated a community visual project on Instagram, @uaeiphonegraphy, where I wanted to create a collage of 1,000 images of Sharjah, showcasing lifestyles of communities that resides within, culture, historic and monumental features. The challenge was to post 1,000 images within a month (March 30 to April 30) and we did manage to do that in just over two weeks.

What shoes do you wear for your discovery trips?

Flats, flats, flats. It should be extra comfy.

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Published: May 22, 2014 04:00 AM


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