- Title: SAUDI ARABIA: Saudi photography exhibition captures country's heritage
- Date: 19th December 2013
- Summary: PHOTOGRAPH OF SAUDI MAN HANDLING FALCON
- Embargoed: 3rd January 2014 12:00
- Location: Saudi Arabia
- Country: Saudi Arabia
- Topics: Arts
- Reuters ID: LVAD0YMTHJ451DN311UZ2B1R8BUJ
- Story Text: Saudi Arabia is taking a creative approach to encouraging tourism with an exhibition in Riyadh that hopes to evoke a sense of the country's culture and heritage.
The annual 'Colors of Saudi Arabia' exhibition, now in its second year, works to highlight the importance of photography for tourism and for Saudi to become a hub for photographers from across the world.
Organised by the Saudi Commission for Tourism and Antiquities (SCTA) the week-long forum displays the work of both professional and amateur photographers.
"Recently there is greater interest in photography. The photography forum is an outlet for young people, a place that allows them to be creative and to learn about the latest developments photography," said May al-Khatiri, a member of the organising committee.
The exhibition is part of the National Tourism Project launched by the SCTA, which its president, Prince Sultan bin Salman, hopes will put the country on the map for photography.
Hamad al-Alsheikh, the vice president of marketing and programs at SCTA, said he hoped the exhibition would encourage more domestic tourism.
'Colors of Saudi Arabia' is one of the initiatives of the supreme commission for tourism and antiquities and it works essentially for residents to know more about the tourism, culture and heritage that is here in the kingdom of Saudi Arabia, so for the people here and also the outside world," said al-Alsheikh.
The exhibition also holds a competition in various categories, including antiquities, urban heritage, nature and tourism experience.
The photography winner, who will be announced on the last day of the exhibition at a special ceremony, will be awarded with a cash prize of one million Saudi riyal, around 266,600 U.S dollars.
Rahaf al-Shibel, a media student at the King Saud university, said she hoped the exhibition would provide her with new contacts for her future career.
"I'm really interested in photography and secondly there are a lot of companies that are offering advertising services, and this could benefit me in the future,'' she said.
Hamad al-Alsheikh said women photographers had proven to be strong competitors to their male counterparts.
''The kingdom has witnessed a rapid development in terms of professional women photographers. The participants were as strong, as we noted in the exhibition, in the competition and on the sidelines, the female element was very strong, they rivalled the men,'' said al-Alsheikh.
The photographs are on show at the International Convention and Exhibition Center (RICEC) in the capital, Riyadh.
Some visitors spoke highly of the images on display.
"I love looking at the photographs, I love the creativity of all the photographers whether they are amateurs or professionals. And I love the fact that Saudi Arabia is being promoted and taken photos of, because it is a beautiful country, it is," said Gelen, an exhibition visitor from New Zealand.
Photographer Adbullah al-Osaimi had set up a stall at the exhibition where he took photographs of visitors.
Al-Osaimi said he was delighted by the public interest in Saudi photography.
"I am thankful to the Tourism Authority for providing this venue for photographers, which is my private world. They have allowed me to live through my photography, and thank God there are people who care about photographers from Saudi Arabia," he said.
The forum this year also held a contest for short films depicting life in Saudi Arabia.
Following the launch of the exhibition Prince Sultan bin Salman said in a statement: "we want our citizens to know the beautiful image of this country and we invite all people in Saudi Arabia to visit the forum, and see these pictures and more importantly, to see these young talented photographers."
'Colour of Saudi Arabia' attracted 12,000 visitors in 2012 and is expected to beat that record with an anticipated 15,000 visitors this year.
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