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Saturday, 8 August 2020

A Week in Pictures, Middle East and Africa, August 8, 2020

This week I've been busy with Beirut so no chat just powerful pictures. For full coverage of Beirut blast click here 

People run for cover following an explosion in Beirut's port area, Lebanon August 4, 2020. REUTERS/Mohamed Azakir

The dead body of a man is seen at the site of an explosion in Beirut, Lebanon August 4, 2020. REUTERS/Mohamed Azakir  

Lebanese army members walk near the damaged grain silo at the site of Tuesday's blast, at Beirut's port area, Lebanon, August 7, 2020. REUTERS/Mohamed Azakir 

A man removes broken glass scattered on the carpet of a mosque damaged in Tuesday's blast in Beirut, Lebanon August 5, 2020. REUTERS/Aziz Taher

People view the damage at the site of Tuesday's blast in Beirut's port area, Lebanon August 7, 2020. REUTERS/Hannah McKay 

Damaged cars are seen at the site of Tuesday's blast, at Beirut's port area, Lebanon, August 7, 2020. REUTERS/Mohamed Azakir

An injured man is pictured under a vehicle following an explosion in Beirut's port area, Lebanon August 4, 2020. REUTERS/Mohamed Azakir  Read on here 

A combination of satellite images shows the port of Beirut on June 9, 2020 and on August 5, 2020, after an explosion. Satellite image ©2020 Maxar Technologies/via REUTERS

Jouriya Ali, 74, displays a picture of her deceased son on a mobile phone, that she says was identified among thousands of images, smuggled out of Syria by a former Syrian military photographer code-named Caesar, that show bodies of dead detainees in Syrian government detention facilities, at an internally displaced persons camp tent in the opposition-held Idlib, Syria, July 7, 2020. REUTERS/Khalil Ashawi Read on here 

A grave digger uses a pickaxe to adjust the size of a newly dug grave at the separated section of the muslim cemetery, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in Nairobi, Kenya August 7, 2020. REUTERS/Baz Ratner

Volunteers from the National Muslim Covid-19 Response Committee, wearing Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), pray before the burial of Abdullahi Adan, 52, who died due to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), at the separated section of the muslim cemetery in Nairobi, Kenya August 6, 2020. REUTERS/Baz Ratner

Workers of the hospitality industry hold candles outside a closed bar as they protest against the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) lockdown regulations and job losses in Cape Town, South Africa, August 6, 2020. REUTERS/Mike Hutchings

A former migrant smuggler waits for his partners to join a meeting at the place where they used to house migrants before leaving for Libya and Algeria, in Agadez, Niger October 27 2019. REUTERS/Zohra Bensemra Read on here - a long time coming but worth the read.

A mannequin is seen among recycled women's hair extensions at a makeshift hair salon near the Dandora dumpsite, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in Eastlands Nairobi, Kenya July 29, 2020. REUTERS/Thomas Mukoya Read on here

Members of the Muslim burial organization prepare the body of a man who died due to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) for burial at Ghiedmatiel Islamia mosque in Cape Town, South Africa, July 31, 2020. REUTERS/Sumaya Hisham

 







Friday, 31 July 2020

A Week in Pictures, Middle East and Africa, July 31, 2020

If someone has 160 suits, 200 pairs of shoes and 300 hats more is more. Thomas Mukoya asked his subject to dress up in different suits and photographed him with the same backdrop, these then presented as a combination picture. The more we can see the better – enjoy the story here.

A combination picture shows Kenyan fashionista James Maina Mwangi posing as he displays his attire comprising at least 160 suits with matching accessories including a mask to prevent the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) infection at his residence in Nairobi, Kenya July 30, 2020. REUTERS/Thomas Mukoya

What you mainly get a sense from in Mohamed al-Sayaghi’s picture is the weight of the sheep being carried away. It’s probably wriggling about quite a bit, making it even harder to carry. The image has been shot quite wide so you get a real feeling of the bustle of the ancient business of goat-selling, with straw, and mud all mingled in with the modern trappings of cars, a modern building with reflective glass and advertising hoardings as people prepare for the festival. 

A man carries a sheep at a livestock market ahead of the Eid al-Adha festival amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic in Sanaa, Yemen July 28, 2020. REUTERS/Mohamed al-Sayaghi

In Ronen Zvulun’s picture your attention is immediately grabbed by the graphic shape of the hand contrasting with the the red and the Israeli flag. It takes more than a little while before you can visually get around this bold and loud shape to see the water cannon spray thundering into the crouching protesters, who protect themselves with small shields. Read on here.


Police use water cannon during a protest against Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's alleged corruption and his government's handling of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) crisis, near his residence in Jerusalem July 26, 2020. REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun

Makeshift roofing, rubbish in the street and drying clothing hanging over rough brick walls crisscross through Khaled Abdullah’s picture and dwarf the two figures. This feeling of enormity echoes the seemingly insurmountable problem of poverty and poor housing. Everything crushes down heavily in the heat and squalor: the old tyres, the large bricks, the makeshift weights to keep the flimsy roofs from blowing away.

Boys play at a slum area for the Muhamasheen (marginalized) community in Sanaa, Yemen July 26, 2020. REUTERS/Khaled Abdullah

Although this is a straightforward before and after image using Ahmed Jadallah’s file picture dated 2016,  the power of comparison to demonstrate the impact of  COVID-19 and social distancing is striking. Read on here.

A combination picture shows Muslim pilgrims circling the Kaaba at the Grand mosque during the annual Haj pilgrimage September 8, 2016, and after the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak July 29, 2020, in Mecca, Saudi Arabia. Pictures taken September 8, 2016 and July 29, 2020. REUTERS/Ahmed Jadallah (top)/ Saudi Ministry of Media/Handout via REUTERS

What a wonderful feature picture by Zohra Bensemra who teases us with “photography pure” elements of the moment caught, tones, shape and colour. Take the time to get past the almost abstract shapes and tones of solid blacks that fill the foreground. We are given just enough highlight detail of the boy’s face in the centre, but nothing is given away in the figure on the left or the dark space on the ground, we just have to figure it out ourselves. To counter these shadows we are treated to the full orange colour in bright sunlight of the boy playing, legs at full stride, head held high, a moment caught. I even like the roof of the building that just kisses the edge of the frame against the blue sky.  

Children are seen at the fishermen port ahead of the Muslim festival of sacrifice Eid al-Adha, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in Dakar, Senegal July 30,2020. REUTERS/Zohra Bensemra

The dawn light bursts over a herd of goats being sold off for slaughter in Thomas Mukoya’s picture. The image is well composed so the animals’ bodies fan out from the centre highlight of the sun, like rays of warmth reaching out to the chill in the foreground. Dotted amongst them are herders and customers alike drawing us deeper into the picture as the goods are inspected and haggled over.    

Muslim faithful buy goats at a livestock market during celebrations marking the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha amid the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Nairobi, Kenya July 31, 2020. REUTERS/Thomas Mukoya

I can’t hide my pleasure over a great detail picture that focuses on a small element of a scene that tells a bigger story, and this enjoyment is doubled when it’s an element from a hard to illustrate economic story. Afolabi Sotunde has captured a money dealer flicking through naira notes that are as tired and worn as the trader’s fingers. The story is that the economy is struggling as businesses struggle to find U.S. dollars to buy the materials they need to continue trading. The oil price, Nigeria’s main export to secure dollars, is depressed by the impact of COVID-19.  Read on here.

A man carries Nigerian naira banknotes at a livestock market in Abuja, Nigeria July 29, 2020. REUTERS/Afolabi Sotunde










Friday, 24 July 2020

A Week in Pictures, Middle East and Africa, July 24, 2020

Baz Ratner has given his picture enough space at the top of the image to make us feel calm enough to take the time to look carefully. Detail is hard to come by as it has been exposed for the highlights, the curves of the backdrop, which give it the calm feel. But Baz is shooting pictures inside a COVID-19 hospital and this is a race to stop the spread of the disease in Kenya. But calm and reassuring, the figures lean towards one another, the nurse, in protective gear carefully preparing medication for the figure who is in silhouette, waiting. See the rest of the pictures here 

A nurse treats a COVID-19 patient inside a field hospital built on a soccer stadium in Machakos, as the number of confirmed coronavirus disease (COVID-19) cases continues to rise in Kenya, July 23, 2020.REUTERS/Baz Ratner 

What attracts me most to Mohamed Nureldin Abdallah’s image is not only the obvious passion of the woman who is shoutingbut the more subtle element of the hands in the picture. Take some time and look at them all, the pointed finger in the foreground and to the right of that the ‘inward facing’ gestures of the woman in red. To the right of that, the two hands from people out of frame, one pointing in and the other out. And then to the left, the finger and thumb touching gesture of the woman in blue, the incidental hand of the woman in the mask and finally, in the background, the raised hand of the figure in black.     

A Sudanese woman chants slogans outside the court during the new trial against ousted President Omar al-Bashir and some of his former allies on charges of leading a military coup that brought the autocrat to power in 1989 in Khartoum, Sudan July 21, 2020. REUTERS/Mohamed Nureldin Abdallah  

 Zohra Bensemra’s gentle picture has a hint of the bizarre about it, which for me is always attractive as it makes me stop and look. Carefully shot in classic thirds, with compositional horizontal lines, and the man’s head just breaking through the horizon. I also like the echo of the colours of blue in the tyre and the sea. Read on here for the story.  

A man from Guediawaye je m'engage association waters a newly planted tree to reforest the coastline on the coast of Guediawaye on the outskirts of Dakar, Senegal July 16, 2020. REUTERS/Zohra Bensemra  

 Strong shapes and bold tones and dominate Thomas Mukoya’s picture that is almost a mirror image of a line drawn vertically through the centre of the masked figure. Even the hot glow of the furnace in the background is balanced, in part, by the cool light coming in from the window. I get a very strong sense of sadness, probably created by the downcast eyes and the heavy shadows of the interior.

A health worker closes the chamber during the cremation of the body of Prof. Charles Kariuki who died due to the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), at a crematorium in Nairobi, Kenya July 20, 2020. REUTERS/Thomas Mukoya 

 No pushing, no shoving, just a gentle and quiet moment captured by Khaled Abdullah as a young girls is given a food ration voucher. She and others in the picture look as if they have been waiting patiently for quite a while. A strong diagonal leads your eye down from the red decoration on the woman’s dress along the helping outstretched arms and hands holding the vouchers down to the face of the man looking up in the bottom right of the frame. Read on here.

A girl receives a food ration voucher at a charity kitchen in Sanaa, Yemen July 19, 2020.  REUTERS/Khaled Abdullah  

 So much for social distancing in Mohamed Abd El Ghany’swonderfully crowded and crushed picture, a narrow(ish) depth of field squashing you into the man at the focal point in the centre. What is terrific for me is the almost regular spacing of the men’s heads in a blur of activity and the fact that you have to take a minute to look carefully to see what the blurring is: cattle ready for slaughter.  

A general view of a cattle market in Al Manashi village, ahead of the Muslim festival of sacrifice Eid al-Adha, following the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Giza, on the outskirts of Cairo, Egypt July 23, 2020. REUTERS/Mohamed Abd El Ghany  

 I see a pattern forming in so much that sometimes I add more than one picture from the same photographer from different stories in my weekly review. This is true for Mohamed Abd El Ghany this week with his action blurred street racing picture in the heat of the Cairo night. Just sharp enough so that you can see what is going on, but not so sharp so that you are distracted by messy details of cars and vendors in the streets at night. Maybe Mohammed is having a spell of good luck and the photography Gods are smiling on him. Lets hope they don’t turn away the following week. On the Photography Gods of luck, I was once told by an older photographer when I started my career. “Son,” he said, “Seems the harder I work, the luckier I get. You might learn from that. That stuck with me.    

Egyptian merchants are seen in action during a horse cart race showing off their horses’ strengths, following the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Cairo, Egypt, July 17, 2020. REUTERS/Mohamed Abd El Ghany 

  

Friday, 17 July 2020

A Week in Pictures, Middle East and Africa, July 17, 2020

There is something childishly wonderful about watching people get soaked but not as wonderful as intentionally getting soaked yourself. I dare you not to smile at Mike Hutchings pictures. The sea foam looks almost like drifting snow but Mike has left a sliver of background at the top of the frame so we get a sense of the power and scale of the wave crashing in.  


People are drenched by sea spray thrown up by huge swells as a cold front moves in over Cape Town, South Africa, July 13, 2020. REUTERS/Mike Hutchings 

I could not resist adding a second frame from the same scene as I love the way the wave is backlit so it looks like an alien reaching out to consume a hapless human. Move over Ridley Scott and James Cameron, there’s a new boy in town. 

People watch spray thrown up by huge swells as a cold front moves in over Cape Town, South Africa, July 13, 2020. REUTERS/Mike Hutchings 

A captured moment by Mohamed Abd El Ghany as a young woman adjusts her veil in a mirror, or is she looking at herself? It’s a shy look with a catch light in her eye that draws us to that glance as her hands gently adjust the garment. Once you ease away from that look you are enveloped in the richness and depth of the gold, blue, red and green colours all warmed up under artificial lighting.    

Sudanese refugee, Hamida Abdallah, fixes her veil in front of a mirror at her apartment in Ain Shams district, amid concerns about the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19, in Cairo, Egypt, July 7, 2020. Picture taken July 7, 2020. REUTERS/Mohamed Abd El Ghany 

Ammar Awad’s picture is crammed full of faces, hands and reds and is more than a little claustrophobic to look at. Pirates, clowns, gloves and masks all fill the space, vying for attention, and the longer you look the hotter the temperature seems to get in this busy, crowded picture.  

Israelis protest against the government's response to the financial fallout of the coronavirus disease (COVID- 19) crisis at Rabin square in Tel Aviv, Israel July 11, 2020. REUTERS/Ammar Awad 

With an initial glance, Baz Ratner has produced a semi-formal environmental portrait of proud, traditionally dressed people looking directly at us through the lens, set against a clean background. But look again, peering around a corner is the smiling face of another, watching the scene unfold, breaking the formality of the moment with an almost cheeky glance. And look even deeper, a backward glance of a strikingly dressed passerby also catches our eye. Read on here.  

A family from the Turkana tribe pose for a picture in the village of Lorengippi near the town of Lodwar, Turkana county, Kenya July 2, 2020. REUTERS/Baz Ratner 

 A very nicely seen picture by Temilade Adelaja as we get an insight into the records department through the open doorway. Soft light and warm colours leave us with the feeling that this is a pleasant place to work. Maybe it’s not the light and colours that leave us with that impression but a sense of a bygone age, no computer on the desk, calm worker with pen on paper, neatly stacked files on the bookshelf at the rear and the sign above the door that states very clearly that this is the RECORD DEPARTMENT. Read on here. 

A woman wearing a protective mask works at the record department of the Primary Healthcare Centre, amid the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Lagos, Nigeria May 7, 2020. REUTERS/Temilade Adelaja 

 Hang on, something’s missing in Mike Hutchings’ picture. The shoulders look right and the hands are well placed to support the weight of the head. The pattern of the stonework replaces the eyes and the curve of the arch replaces the imaginary top line of the head as the mind’s eye struggles to recreate what is missing: the head of the statue. Read on here. 

A damaged bust of Cecil John Rhodes, a controversial figure in the history of South Africa, is seen after the statue had been vandalised and had the head removed in Cape Town, South Africa, July 14, 2020. REUTERS/Mike Hutchings 

 Essam Al-Sudani has produced one of the most moving and sad set of images I have seen for quite some time: a child cancer ward impacted by coronavirus disease COVID-19. Many of the images appear without hope at all as parents sit with gravely ill children. This single image really jumped out at me as there is no escaping the faraway look in this mother’s eye as she looks out of the window. We can only imagine what she is thinking, her thoughts uninterrupted by her child, who is bound tightly in swaddling and silent. Read on here. 

An Iraqi woman wearing a protective mask carries her baby, who is suffering from cancer, at the Children's Hospital for Cancer Diseases, amid the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Basra, Iraq July 9, 2020.  REUTERS/Essam Al-Sudani  

Raneen Sawafta shoots wide and exposes for the highlights so all the shadows fall into darkness, leaving us with the masked face and hand of the dancer surrounded by solid black, with just the tiniest hint of torso. Even the mask doesn’t detract too much from the intensity seen in her face, a feeling created by the downcast eyes.  

A Palestinian girl wearing a mask rehearses for a performance at the Freedom Theatre amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) crisis in Jenin in the Israeli-occupied West Bank July 16, 2020. REUTERS/Raneen Sawafta  

   

Friday, 10 July 2020

A Week in Pictures, Middle East and Africa, July 10, 2020

A brutal and sad picture by Thalefang Charles. The elephant appears to reach out to the viewer with its trunk at the moment of its death in a barren landscape. There is no escaping the black hollow of the animal’s eye or the gaping hole where a tusk would have once been as we are led along the line of the trunk and the animal’s back to the tiny figure of a vet in the background.  Read on here 

Dr Wave Kashweeka, Principal Veterinary Officer stands over the carcass of an elephant found near Seronga, in the Okavango Delta, Botswana, July 9, 2020. REUTERS/Thalefang Charles

At first glance we are not sure if the screen on the left is a TV or a mirror. Ari Jalal has used the mirror hanging in the temporary accommodation to enable us to both look in and out of this room at the same time.  We get a sense of people being busy, the hurried tension of a small space, change happening. I love the body language of the young man in the doorway, as though he is saying “come on, get a move on”, but can’t out of respect to the others he shouldn’t really rush.  Read on here.

Yazidi displaced family of Nayef al-Hamo is reflected in the mirror as they prepare to leave their home in Sharya town and head back to Sinjar following the outbreak of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) and economic crisis, near Dohuk, Iraq July 3, 2020. REUTERS/Ari Jalal

A wide and slightly compositionally chaotic picture from Philimon Bulawayo as the eye chases around looking for a focal point. It’s rather visually uncomfortable with figures running out of the frame left and right and the line of trees and sky cutting mercilessly across the frame into the head of the central figure, who seems to be coming up for air. But it’s what written on the sign that comes as bit of a shock and is uncomfortable reading.  
Health workers carry placards as they protest against economic hardship and poor working conditions during the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in Harare, Zimbabwe, July 6, 2020. REUTERS/Philimon Bulawayo 

Two terrific pictures by two photographers working on one story about the convergence of the Nile. In the first by Zohra Bensemra we are immediately intrigued by the brown swirling mass “penned” in by trees left and right, a centrally placed figure making us wonder what is going on. I love the detail of his shoes on the right-hand side of the frame and the dappled light coming through the rough and ready roofing as we slowly begin to understand he is squashing mud with his feet. Read on here.

David Plantino, 35, a pottery maker from South Sudan, kneads mud with his feet, that will be used to make pottery at a workshop in an area known as the 'Potters Village' in Alqamayir, Omdurman, Sudan February 16, 2020. "I have been a pottery maker for 7 years, I relied on the Nile river like most people around me here for water and the mud", Plantino said. "Both are the foundation for people who rely on pottery to make a living." REUTERS/Zohra Bensemra

Mohamed Nureldin Abdallah entertains us with a beautiful abstract curve through his picture leaving us unsure of a sense of scale. We are initially confused by the flat grey shape that has a mirror-like quality and then the abandoned chairs snap into focus. We are looking at the waters edge of the Nile.       

Chairs are left facing the banks of the Blue Nile river in Khartoum, Sudan, February 15, 2020. REUTERS/Mohamed Nureldin Abdallah 

Just how much do you want to swim in that pool? Ahmed Jadallah’s picture is pleasing on so many levels: the colours, the shapes, the teasing shadows of the trees and the tantalising ripples on the water and that small figure, arms stretched out luxuriating in the warm water.  Dive in and have some fun, I wish. 

People swim at a swimming pool in the Atlantis The Palm hotel, as the Emirates reopen to tourism amid coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Dubai, United Arab Emirates July 7, 2020. REUTERS/Ahmed Jadallah

Anees Mahyoub’s picture is striking as the graves are so deep, dark and so close together. What is to stop the walls of sand and mud falling in the diggers? But it’s the small details next to the sad and ugly gaping holes that gives this image its strength: like the pickaxe between the graves and the feet of the bystander. Read on here.

People dig graves at a cemetery where victims of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) are buried in Taiz, Yemen June 23, 2020. Picture taken June 23, 2020. REUTERS/Anees Mahyoub 

A very busy but at the same time simple half-length environmental portrait by Muhammad Hamed works so well that you just want to meet this doctor. The direct eye contact draws you straight into his gentle, concerned but reassuring face past all the visual noise, his clean white jacket helping you make that journey. Once you have looked him in the eye then you can enjoy the rest of the room. I love the echo of his fingers in the brochure dispenser on the left of the image 

Jordanian doctor Nizar al Halaby poses at his clinic in Amman, Jordan, July 5, 2020. Picture taken July 5, 2020. REUTERS/Muhammad Hamed

I think Yamam al-Shaar has captured a moment of work that seems like it will never end. A single figure, masked against coronavirus set against a wall of boxes.  Not an inch of respite for her amid the boxes that completely fill the frame and bear down on her. 
A worker wearing a face mask holds an ice cream box inside an ice cream factory in Damascus, Syria July 2, 2020. Picture taken July 2, 2020. REUTERS/Yamam Al Shaar 

Is this bride dancing in Amir Cohen’s picture dancing? Why is she letting her beautiful wedding dress get dirty? Why on earth would she want to be photographed in an area that looks like an industrial estate? All these questions raised by a beautifully composed and side lit picture enables the viewer to make up their own story for this strong and affectionate standalone image of happiness.  
A bride walks on the shore of the Mediterranean Sea as she is photographed before her wedding amid the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Ashdod, Israel July 6, 2020. REUTERS/Amir Cohen

I feel in Thomas Mukoya’s picture as if this train is bearing down on me. I am the proverbial rabbit in the headlights as others scatter left and right away from its path. An effect created by careful exposure to allow the highlight of the train’s light to burn out. A quick look at the track and you see the kink in the line so we know it’s not travelling all that fast, time enough for me to scuttle away too.  

A commuter train arrives at a makeshift station, amid the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), at the Kibera slums, in Nairobi, Kenya July 6, 2020. REUTERS/Thomas Mukoya

In Mohamed Azakir’s wonderfully lit picture a yellow cushion seems to come to life with a facial expression that sums up the whole situation. It’s only then we notice the central figure in the gloom, and the candle light is neither kind or romantic but a necessity as powers cuts mean no electricity. Read on here.

Badiaa, 75, lights a candle and a portable light to light up the room due to a power cut in Beirut, Lebanon July 6, 2020. Picture taken July 6, 2020. REUTERS/Mohamed Azakir