The Kingdom Photography Award announces Grant winners and shortlisted nominees for inaugural AlWajh edition

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The Kingdom Photography Award

The Kingdom Photography Award is proud to announce the Kingdom Photography Professional Grant winners for its inaugural edition. 

Aimed at established photographers across the globe, the grants are designed to enable the creation of the first ever professional photographic archive of the region and are awarded to specialized photography experts in three categories – Underwater, Nature Along The Coast and Urban Environment

Grant winners from each of the Award categories include, Alex Dawson for Underwater Photography, Nyree Cox for Urban Environment photography and Andrea Alkalay for Coastal photography. The Grant winners have been selected from a wide range of applicants from around the globe and commissioned to create a professional photographic archive of the AlWajh area along the Red Sea coast – the region of focus for the first edition, in the north-west of Saudi Arabia. They will additionally go on to join a distinguished roster of judges who will evaluate the final submissions for The Kingdom Photography Discovery Competition – open to early and mid-career photographers from the Kingdom who will also photograph the region as part of a prize-winning competition.

The Kingdom Photography Award has been launched by the Visual Arts Commission to inspire creative exploration and cross-cultural exchange, through the medium of photography, within the Kingdom and beyond. Both local and international photographers will participate to capture the varied and inspiring landscapes of the Kingdom.  The chosen region for the inaugural edition, the coastal area around AlWajh, is renowned for its unique and stunning beaches, and informed the three award categories: ‘Underwater photography’, ‘Nature along the coast photography’, and photography of the surrounding ‘Urban environment’.

Running in parallel to the Kingdom Photography Grant is The Kingdom Photography Discovery Competition. Geared towards local early and mid-career photographers, the competition is an opportunity for individuals based in Saudi Arabia, to develop their photographic skills by engaging with the Professional Grant winners through a series of collaborative workshops and masterclasses in the three aforementioned categories. The Kingdom Photography Discovery Competition will provide the nominees with a chance to hone their craft, before participating in an inspirational 3-day photo-shoot of the city. 

All photographic submissions are to be evaluated by this year’s judging panel, comprising photography luminaries from Saudi Arabia and across the globe. This includes award winning Environmental photographer, Daniel Beltra, based in the US, and fellow of the prestigious International League of Conservation Photographers with a specialism in aerial landscape photography; prominent photographic consultant, Zein Khalifa, founder of Tintera photography gallery in Cairo; dynamic Saudi photographer Moath Alofi, one of the most exciting artists in the region; and Abdullah Al-Turki, founding member of the Saudi Art Council, member of Tate’s Middle East and North Africa Acquisition Committee and the Serpentine’s Future Contemporaries, member of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum’s Middle Eastern Circle, and collector of contemporary photography. 

The panel has shortlisted 21 photographers for the first edition of Saudi Arabia’s first ever landscape photography award. They will have the opportunity to develop their photographic skills by engaging with the Professional Grant winners through a series of collaborative workshops and masterclasses in the three award categories – Underwater; Nature Along The Coast and Urban environment.

Kingdom Photography Award Judge Daniel Beltra commented: “The Kingdom Photography Award is an incredible opportunity for Saudi photographers to hone their art, as well as interact and share knowledge with the global photography community. I have been impressed by the large number of submissions to the Award’s inaugural edition. The richness and diversity of the Red Sea’s environment is awe-inspiring, and I look forward to seeing the exhibition of works later in the year”.

Winners of The Kingdom Photography Professional Grant and The Kingdom Photography Discovery Competition will receive a combined total of 400,000 SAR ($106,403.16) in cash prizes, alongside further physical prizes worth a combined total of 200,000 SAR ($53,201.58). The resulting images will be exhibited at Art Jameel’s new cultural centre Hayy Jameel, in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia in an exhibition organised by the Visual Arts Commission. It will include both the Kingdom Photography Grant winners’ images, as well as photography produced by the Kingdom Photography Award Competition’s winners and runners up, in a curated exhibition. The exhibition is due to take place in December of this year.

“We are delighted to have such a prestigious group of local and international photography stars joining the panel of judges of the inaugural edition of the Kingdom Photography Award and are grateful for their role in helping to select this year’s nominees,” says Dina Amin, CEO of the Visual Arts Commission. 

For further information and enquiries, please email engage@moc.gov.sa or see The Kingdom Photography Award website on https://engage.moc.gov.sa/tkpa 

About the Kingdom Photography Award: 

The Kingdom Photography Award is a pioneering cultural initiative aimed at inspiring photographic and creative exploration, as well as cross-cultural exchange with the Kingdom. Launched by the Visual Arts Commission, the Award is the first of its kind to be held annually in the Kingdom. It aims to inspire local and international photographers to discover and capture the varied and unique landscapes of the Kingdom. The Award is organized in two tracks. The first, the Kingdom Photography Professional Grant, which invites applications from established photographers across the globe and is designed to enable the creation of a professional photographic archive of the region. The second track, the Kingdom Photography Discovery Competition will invite early and mid-career photographers from the Kingdom to photograph the designated region as part of a prize-winning competition, as well as develop their photographic skills by engaging with the Professional Grant winners through a series of collaborative workshops and masterclasses. Taken together, both tracks of the Award encourage local and international photographers to discover the landscape, take creative photos, enhance cultural and artistic exchange in the Kingdom, and forge global partnerships to transfer expertise and knowledge in the art of photography.

About the Visual Arts Commission: 

Founded in 2020, the VAC is leading the development of the visual arts sector in the Kingdom as one of 11 sector-specific commissions under the Ministry of Culture. Focussing on a variety of sectors and levels of expertise within the visual arts with highlights including, The Kingdom Photography Award, Diriyah Contemporary Art Biennale, the ‘Artists of Tomorrow’ competition and more. The Commission is working to nurture the talent of art enthusiasts, practitioners, and professionals in the Kingdom, and support the production and exhibition of artwork in all its forms, locally and internationally. 

Kingdom Photography Award Judging Panel

Moath Alofi, is a Saudi photographer, born in Medina where he is currently based. One of the most exciting artists in the region, Moath has participated in contemporary photography exhibitions across the globe. He holds a BA in Environmental Management and Sustainable Development from Bond University, Gold Coast, Australia, and is the founder of Almthba:  an interdisciplinary studio focusing on the region of Medina by promoting art and assisting researchers. Moath is also the new creative face of Cartier’s Tank in the Middle East.

Daniel Beltra is an Award winning Environmental photographer, and a fellow of the prestigious International League of Conservation Photographers with a specialism in aerial landscape photography. He is the winner of the Wildlife Photographer of the Year Award, the Lucie Award for the International Photographer of the Year and the prestigious Prince’s Rainforest Project award granted by the then Prince Charles, now King Charles III, and has been featured in numerous publications including, National Geographic, The New Yorker and The Guardian.

Zein Khalifa, Co-founder of TINTERA, Egypt’s first private gallery dedicated to photography. A photographer and photographic consultant, based in London, Khalifa is a graduate of Sarah Lawrence College, New York and Sotheby’s Institute of Art, London. She previously worked as Associate Director of Sales at HackelBury Fine Arts where she worked closely with collectors, artists and curators placing works in private collections and leading art institutes and participated in international art fairs.Abdullah K. AlTurki was born and raised in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. is a founding member of Social Arts Collective (SAC) and its 21,39 Jeddah Arts initiative. Abdullah served as the founding Creative Director for the Edge of Arabia and is a member of Solomon R. Guggenheim’s Middle Eastern Circle. In 2019 he was appointed a Senior Advisor to the Ministry of Culture, Saudi Arabia, and a board member of the Diriyah Biennale Foundation, established in 2020. He also has a degree in Finance and Masters in Management from Cass Business School and initially worked in banking before becoming involved in the contemporary arts scene.

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