Friday 8 February 2019

A Week in Pictures Middle East and Africa February 8, 2019

There is no mistaking the classic beauty of Eissa Alragehi’s picture. It depicts the kind of calm that the pre-Raphaelites strove to achieve in their paintings of imagined rural bliss. But this is Yemen, a far from perfect world, so maybe this is why the top of the tree is cropped off, a slight distraction in this otherwise wonderful picture.  

Students displaced from different cities in Yemen’s northwestern province attend an outdoor class under a tree near Abs, Yemen January 28, 2019.   REUTERS/Eissa Alragehi

Also from Yemen, this brutal image by Fawaz Salman of the execution of two men convicted in court of child rape raises many ethical dilemmas. Should this picture be taken? Should this picture be published? If it’s not taken or published are we self-censoring what is happening in Yemen? If it is taken and published are we normalizing brutality? Is this execution, although legal in Yemen, brutal or just?  These decisions are not taken lightly and keep me awake at night. The men are not dead and this is not the moment of death. My view is that this an important picture to take and publish because this is what is happening in Yemen now. Professional photographers facing this decision will use their own moral compass to decide how to shoot this image. It is also worth noticing the dozens of people using phones to film and photograph the scene. Will they face the same ethical dilemmas when they decide whether to share on social media – thus raising another unanswerable question? 

A police officer prepares for the execution of Wadah Refat, 28 and Mohamed Khaled, 31, who were convicted of raping a twelve-year-old boy, in Aden Yemen February 7, 2018.    REUTERS/Fawaz Salman

And while we are considering ethical dilemmas, Khaled Abdullah had some difficult choices when illustrating the story of conjoined children born in Sanaa Yemen. It is a tragic story that needs to be highlighted, but many would shy away from publishing brutal images of babies suffering in this way. A solution is a clever picture of medical staff looking at x-rays. Even though the reality of the conjoined children can be clearly seen, the image offers hope as the doctors study the x-ray and we allow ourselves the belief there just might be a chance of a normal life. The full story, with other images, can be seen here

Doctors check the x-ray film of newly born conjoined twins at the child intensive care unit of al-Thawra hospital in Sanaa, Yemen February 6, 2019.   REUTERS/Khaled Abdullah

It’s nice when shapes and light all come together to lift an ordinary scene into an image that is a little more special, and this is where Philimon Bulawayo’s picture succeeds. The great shapes of the hat and shoulders are set against the colour of the background, enhanced by the flicker of light from the flame on the face. Delightful. It lifts my spirits.

Zimbabwean Bishop Regina Katsande lights a candle during a national prayer meeting in Harare, Zimbabwe, February 7, 2019.   REUTERS/Philimon Bulawayo

Mohamed, Torokman’s picture has the same structural feel as Philimon’s image above. A single gesture by Alexander Van de Bellen, who looks across to his Palestinian counterpart, lifts an ordinary scene into a picture that is a little more special. The direction of the look by the two men keeps your eye from speeding beyond the edge of the frame as you follow the line of the flags. I like the 16 X 9 format of this image too. It’s easy on the eye as you race back and forth from side to side and back again. 

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Austrian President Alexander Van der Bellen attend a joint news conference in Ramallah, in the occupied Israeli-occupied West Bank February 5, 2019.   REUTERS/Mohamad Torokman 

The Pope visits United Arab Emirates. There’s a lot of excitement and security is tight. Ahmed Jadallah, as well as producing many classic ‘Pope makes a visit’ pictures, had the  courage to turn 180 degrees from the action to look in the opposite direction to the crowds to produce this very calm security picture. The soldier, although tiny, still jumps out in the frame to grab your eye as the blacks of his uniform stand out against the soft pastels of the blue sky and eggshell white of the minarets.

A member of the security forces guards during the arrival of Pope Francis at the Sheikh Zayad Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates February 4, 2019.   REUTERS/Ahmed Jadallah

It’s not often that direct eye contact adds to a news picture. In fact it will often destroy it, but Feisal Omar’s image bucks that trend. The reason is that the eye contact takes you directly into the centre of the image, past the red jacket and the cut-off hand that extends annoyingly out of the frame on the right, and the yellow and orange on the rescue worker’s clothing on the left. Once we are through this visual noise, we get to see the injured man on the stretcher and the intense look of the men wheeling him to safety.

Security forces and emergency services evacuate an injured man from the scene where a car bomb exploded at a shopping mall in Mogadishu, Somalia, February 4, 2019.  REUTERS/Feisal Omar

It’s difficult to ignore a sea of red with a beaming smile in the middle. It’s especially difficult when there are two people wearing blue shirts on either side of the picture, maybe they didn’t get the email? I like to think that Siphiwe Sibeko spotted these blue shirts when he shot and cropped the picture. I suspect so, as there were thousands attending the rally. If not, he can add luck to his list of skills. 

Supporters of South Africa’s radical left-wing party, the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), hold placards during the launch of the party’s election manifesto in Soshanguve, near Pretoria, South Africa February 2, 2019.    REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko 

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