Sunday 13 September 2020

A Week in Pictures, Middle East and Africa, September 11, 2020

Alaa al-Marjani made full use of social distancing guidelines to make this wonderfully graphic image as people could worship together for the first time in months. I am put in mind of a Bridget Riley painting or ripples in water. As you watch you are quickly memorized by the shapes and pattens shifting before your eyes. 

Supporters of Iraqi Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr maintain social distancing as they attend Friday prayers for the first time in months since the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) restrictions were imposed, in Kufa mosque, near Najaf, Iraq September 11, 2020. REUTERS/Alaa al-Marjani

Pushing, shoving chaotic scenes are quite rare in these days of social distancing so Aziz Taher’s picture comes as bit of a surprise. Despite the key figure being quite small in the frame, his brightly coloured shirt set against a sea of black catches your eye. Helping this to happen is the vertical line of background shadow that cuts down into the figure as we try to look around the lifted weapon in the foreground that is also demanding our attention.    

Palestinian group Hamas' top leader, Ismail Haniyeh, is carried during his visit at Ain el Hilweh Palestinian refugee camp in Sidon, Lebanon September 6, 2020. REUTERS/Aziz Taher 

Okay I hold my hand up. I like Ahmed Yosri’s picture purely because it appears the camel is chewing thoughtfully as it studies the public health notice on protecting yourself from coronavirus. The reason it works I think, is the totally clean and neutral background. Any visual noise here and the sense - and maybe the gentle smile - would be lost.   

A camel is seen near a billboard reading "sanitisation point" at an outdoor yard of The Salam Veterinary Hospital in Buraidah, Al Qassim, Saudi Arabia, September 3, 2020.  REUTERS/Ahmed Yosri 

A busy and subtle picture from Zohra Bensemra as she strikes the balance between showing the extent of the flooding and giving enough detail to show people struggling with it. The line of the edge of the building points out the man waist-deep in water and then zig zags you through to the rear of the picture so you see the whole street is flooded. Your attention is then brought back to all the dotted colours on the roof where we finally spot the woman separating out the clothing to try to dry it all off. 

A resident makes his way through a flooded street while a woman hangs clothes to dry on a terrace after last week's heavy rains in Keur Massar, Senegal September 8, 2020. REUTERS/Zohra Bensemra

The strong light hitting the papers on the blackboard and the bright yellow container gives Baz Ratner’s picture a glow of brilliant sunshine that is momentarily blinding. You get an immediate sense of warmth from it. Once your eyes adjust to the light your attention is grabbed by the chicken standing on the yellow container and then to the bottom third of the image that is populated with healthy looking chickens. We need the caption to really understand what is going on with this perplexing image. Read on here.  

Chickens are seen in a classroom converted into a poultry house because of COVID-19 in the town of Wang'uru, Kenya, August 28, 2020. REUTERS/Baz Ratner

Half of Mohamed Azakir’s picture is dense black smoke meaning nothing is really visible in this half, so your eyes travel to the helicopter dropping water on the flames. But we get a sense that that is just not enough, so your attention is drawn to the now iconic shape of the grain storage unit that was destroyed in the massive blast in Beirut just over a month ago. It’s at this point the worry sets in, will there be another explosion? This fire is at the scene of the blast that killed dozens and injured hundreds. 

A helicopter tries to put out a fire that broke out at Beirut's port area, Lebanon September 10, 2020. REUTERS/Mohamed Azakir

Amr Abdallah Dalsh teases us with an almost, but not quite, perfect horizontal thirds composition as this windfarm stretches to the horizon. Teasing too is the fact the windmills are not perfectly regular in their vertical spacing. The colours also play into this teasing game with the warmth of the glow of the sands and the light on the windmills set against the cool blue grey of the unbroken skies. 

Wind turbines, which generate renewable energy, are seen on the Zafarana Wind Farm at the desert road of Suez outside of Cairo, Egypt September 1, 2020.  REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalshha

Hard to resist this picture of the moment captured of fire and fury as a missile bursts from its pod in a ball of flames. You can almost hear the thunder clap. The strange light thrown out from the launch gives the scene a greasy mechanical feel that spreads over the lone helmeted figure, who looks a little vulnerable as he sits half exposed in a sandbag shelter.  

Members of the Iranian army fire missiles during the annual military drill, dubbed “Zolphaghar 99”, in the Gulf of Oman, Iran on September 8, 2020. WANA (West Asia News Agency) via REUTERS

There’s no escaping the concentration and intensity on the boy’s face that Mussa Qawasma has captured in this beautifully back lit image. The rim light on the boy’s face, the glow of the sanitiser bottle and the stream of fluid from it and the momentary dance of the shadow. You can almost hear his mother’s voice: “You make sure you wash your hands properly and do exactly what the teacher says. I want you staying safe”.  Wonderful.

A Palestinian elementary school student has his hands sanitised as he sits in a classroom after schools reopened gradually amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in Susya village in the Israeli-occupied West Bank September 7, 2020. REUTERS/Mussa Qawasma

Siphiwe Sibeko has taken a picture that gives us insight into an important emotional moment. We see a tiny tear, set against carefully made up eyes. This person is a volunteer for testing COVID-19 vaccines, who is being tested and then injected with the test vaccine. The probe up her nose must hurt, hence the tear? Or maybe the racing emotions of knowing that what she is just embarking on could potentially help millions or if all goes wrong, could be fatal. Read on here

Robyn Porteous, a vaccine trials' volunteer, is tested for the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) before being injected with a vaccine as part of the country's human clinical trial for potential vaccines at the Wits RHI Shandukani Research Centre in Johannesburg, South Africa, August 27, 2020. REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko

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