Friday 9 February 2018

A Week in Pictures Middle East and Africa February 9, 2018

I can’t stop looking at Khaled Abdullah’s stark and very sad picture. The children’s tiny, frightened faces peer out from a busy, colourful image. To me, the sadness in their eyes fills the frame, so all you can do is feel for their suffering. How much worse can it get? You live in war zone, you are only a child, and you and your sibling both have cancer. 

A boy and his sister who both suffer from cancer lie on a bed at a cancer treatment centre in Sanaa, Yemen, February 4, 2018.    REUTERS/Khaled Abdullah

How could I resist highlighting the bizarre scene of a masked gunman scrolling through his phone, sitting on a red sofa in a grey, rubble-strewn street in al-Bab, Syria? I think Khalid Ashawi’s centrally composed picture is as striking as it is bizarre, so no resistance from me, it’s here.

A Turkish-backed Free Syrian Army fighter is seen in the eastern suburbs of al-Bab, Syria, February 4, 2018.   REUTERS/Khalil Ashawi

To me, the strength of Ismail Zitouny’s almost abstract combination of texture, tone, wood, metal and cloth is that it takes quite a while to understand that you are looking at the wrapped figure of a woman. Her invisibility mirrors the plight of the displaced people who cannot return to their homes in the ghost town of Tawergha. More pictures here.

A Libyan woman displaced from the town of Tawergha stands at a camp in Tripoli, Libya, February 5, 2018.   REUTERS/Ismail Zitouny

The ghost-like figures that appear from the smoke and dust of the aftermath of an air strike in Bassam Khablieh’s picture haunt me far more than his other images of blood-stained pavements taken at the same time. Why? The people seem to be drowning in the streets as they run from the devastation, putting me in mind of the first line of Stevie Smith’s poem ‘Not Waving but Drowning’: ‘Nobody heard him, the dead man.’

Civil defence members and civilians are seen running after an air raid in the besieged town of Douma in eastern Ghouta in Damascus, Syria, February 6, 2018.   REUTERS/Bassam Khabieh

It’s not clear what everyone is looking at, but what is clear is the desperation in the faces of those gathered behind the wide-eyed, open-mouthed security officers in red berets in Ibraheem Abu Mustafa’s picture. I feel as if every pair of eyes has a sad story to tell. The man in the rear of the image pushes his passport forwards, giving us a clue as to what this picture is about. Story here.

Members of Palestinian Hamas security forces stand guard as people ask for travel permits to cross into Egypt through the Rafah border crossing after it was opened by Egyptian authorities for humanitarian cases, in the southern Gaza strip, February 7, 2018.   REUTERS/Ibraheem Abu Mustafa

Wild swings in the stock market provide great opportunities for making and losing lots of money but they also provide photographers with an opportunity to shoot thoughtful and clever pictures. Not easy when you consider the only ‘action’ is people sitting at screens. I love the circular composition of Faisal Al Nasser’s picture, where the top line of the screens curves round to visually link with the curve of the balcony in the rear of the picture. This shape is echoed by the trader’s agal holding his keffiyeh in place. And in Satish Kumar’s wonderfully graphic image below that, I love it that investor has momentarily taken his eyes of the screen to look directly into the lens. At this moment, did he lose money or make it?

A Saudi trader observes the stock market on monitors at Falcom stock exchange in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia February 7, 2018.   REUTERS/Faisal Al Nasser

An investor looks up from the screen at the Dubai International Financial market in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, February 7, 2018.  REUTERS/Satish Kumar

In what initially looks like a curious mixture of street theatre and a Zombie run, Amir Cohen has captured a picture that draws you in as your interest is piqued. What is actually going on? Some faces painted white in a reverse Al Jolson style, others half painted white. Once you move beyond the right to left gaze of the focal point of the image you are zigzagged uncomfortably to the rear of the picture to see dark eyes and pale death-like faces. Two words stand out: Israel and deport. Story here.

African migrants protest against the Israeli government’s plan to deport part of their community, in front of the Rwandan embassy in Herzliya, Israel, February 7, 2018.   REUTERS/Amir Cohen

It’s not often I feel I can share a sports picture from the Middle East and Africa region, but Mike Hutchings’ eye-watering picture of an awkward delivery during the one-day international between South Africa and India seemed to select itself today.

South Africa’s Aiden Markham gets hit by a delivery from Hardik Pandya during the Third One-Day International against India in Newlands Stadium in Cape Town, South Africa, February 8, 2018.   REUTERS/Mike Hutchings

Omar Sanadiki’s pictures from rare trip to Aleppo reveals slow signs of the city coming back to life. Once you look beyond the massive hole in the foreground and the destruction of the city to the horizon, you begin to pick out tiny details: cars moving, people walking about and sitting at a table. A small hardware store has opened for business and what looks like a food stall on the left has three customers. You do have to look hard, but it’s there. So I think there is a little hope here.    

People and cars are seen in the streets of old town Aleppo, Syria, February 8, 2018.   REUTERS/Omar Sanadiki

Khalil’s Ashawi’s picture is full of tension and action. What really makes this picture work for me is that in addition to the strong light coming through the pillars as the gunman runs for cover, the barrel and aiming sight of the rifle are silhouetted against the light on the wall. If you use your thumb to take away the end of the rifle, the image is much harder to define and you lose the immediate sense of ‘gunman’.  Read the latest from this conflict here.  

A Turkey-backed Free Syrian fighter is seen in the eastern suburbs of al-Bab, Syria February 8, 2018.   REUTERS/Khalil Ashawi


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