Celebrating the long-standing relationship between the two countries, Qatar Turkey 2015: Year of Culture aims to forge new, and support existing, partnerships in the arts, education and sport while promoting an awareness and appreciation of each country’s culture, achievements and heritage. This new photography exhibition at Katara is the first step in showcasing both the diversity and beauty of both countries…

From the magical mosques of Istanbul to the pseudo-moonscapes of Cappadocia, and from the vibrant cityscapes of Doha to the shifting sands of the Qatari desert; four photographers from two different Muslim nations documented their journeys as moments captured in time, engaging in an inspiring exchange of artistic discovery and cultural dialogue. Their aim was to capture real people in their natural environments. The photography exhibition Artistic Journeys: New Angles; New Perspectives, is a unique visual interpretation of this year’s Qatar Turkey 2015: Year of Culture. In collaboration with the Qatar Photographic Society (QPS), the Qatari and Turkish Ministries of Culture and See My Culture, and sponsored by Exxonmobil, Qatar Airways and W Doha, Qatar Turkey 2015: sent two Qatari photographers, Sara Al Obaidly and Saleh Al Marri, on an expedition in Turkey to snap its landscapes, people, food, culture, and touristic highlights.

The aim was to capture the essence of Turkey through Qatari eyes. Immersed in the day-to-day lives of families and artisans, the photographers enjoyed a rare opportunity to photograph Turkey, among its ethnic and geographic diversity. From the vibrant quarters of Istanbul to the cave houses of Cappadocia, from bustling bazaars to peaceful mosques and sumptuous palaces, they went behind the scenes to interpret, in images, Turkey’s rich culture and history as it is in the heart of its people. This photography exhibition will also showcase the best works of the two Turkish photographers – Ali Muhammet Bayraktariglu and Hasan Yelken – who were invited to journey across the Arabian Peninsula to experience Qatar through Turkish eyes.

The results were spectacular and this exhibition showcases the best photographs taken during both trips. Reflecting on the exchange programme, Safiya al Hajari, Director of the Qatar Museums’ Office of Strategic Cultural Relations, says: “Both countries are home to rich and diverse cultural practices. The aim for such a cultural exchange is to capture both Turkish and Qatari cultural identities through the artistic expression of photographers. Such an exchange is at the heart of Qatar Turkey 2015: Year of Culture mission,” she adds.

Sara Al Obaidly

Sara is a portrait and documentary photographer from Doha, Qatar. She completed her education in England, where she received her BA and MA at The University of Brighton. Confronting contemporary political, philosophical and social issues, with a clear and incisive vision, Sara presents the intimate moments of human emotion through portraiture and a wider view of the region and its intricacies in her landscape compositions. Recently commissioned by Qatar Museums, Sara’s work Qatar: Old Hearts, New Worldwas showcased in an exhibition of Qatari and Brazilian artists Huna Hunak (Here There) as part of the Qatar Brazil 2014: Year of Culture. Sara has been shortlisted for the prestigious Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Award in 2014 and her piece, Together We Stand, was an exhibit at The National Portrait Gallery, London until February 2015. Her works were also shortlisted for the Association of Photographers (AOP) Award and The Al Thani Award.

Sara 4

Saleh Al Marri

Saleh graduated from Qatar University with a degree in Media in 2008. He is currently studying for a Masters at Cairo University on the Role of Visual Culture in Social Development. Saleh’s interest in photography began in 2007 as part of a university photo-journalism project for Al Raya newspaper where he was introduced to the world of photography and started to learn how to convey messages and stories through images. Saleh took an interest in portrait photography and then landscape and cityscape photography, however his real passion is capturing people in their daily lives. Some of Saleh’s achievements include winning the Traditional Dhow competition in Qatar, the Sheikh Sultan Festival in UAE, and a commission by Abu Dhabi TV for whom he produced a mosaic sculpture of a photograph, unveiled in April 2015, in a popular square in Abu Dhabi. Saleh has a large following on instagram and is an official Alpha Influencer for SONY MENA where he regularly holds photography training for SONY employees and clients as well as testing their new cameras.

Saleh Al Marri

Ali Muhammet Bayraktarigl

Ali is Faculty Dean and academic staff at the Faculty of Fine Arts in Trakya University. He was born in Bayindir, Izmir in 1967. His interest in photography started at a young age. There was a tradition in Turkey at that time in which families organised apprenticeships for their children during the summer holidays. At the age of 10, Ali chose to be a photography apprentice in Tire, Izmir. He then decided he wanted to study photography and obtained a degree from Dokuz Eylul University. In 1997 he received a scholarship to attend an MFA degree in Photography from the Savannah College of Art and Design in the US. He also has a PhD in Communications from Ankara University. In his spare time, Ali likes to photograph food and daily life in Turkey. Ali is a member of several prestigious photographic societies such as GAFSAD and IFSAD in Turkey and has research interests in alternative photography techniques, intelligent technologies and photography, the ideological function of photography and propaganda, and understanding social documentary photography.

Ali Muhammet Bayraktariglu

Hasan Yelken

Hasan is a dentist. The natural beauty he came across during his travels around the world is what inspired him to take up photography. In 1995, he became a member of the Gaziantep Association of Art Photography where he went on to become Chairman of the Board of Directors from 1998 to 2006. Being a photographer was a big turning point in Hasan’s life and he believes it has made his life more meaningful. Hasan divides his life into two parts: before photography and after. After photography he started to explore life and people in a different way. He has also had the opportunity to explore other cultures and occupations. Hasan has taught Basic Photography in Gaziantep University and has a book on Flowers of Gaziantep. He is a member of the publication board for an arts and culture magazine called Ayıntap, published in Gaziantep in which he also writes travel articles. Since becoming a photographer, Hasan has become more environmentally conscious. He believes that photographers should be a witness to change in our rapidly shifting world and should document societies around them.

Hasan 4

GO: The Artistic Journeys: New Angles; New Perspectives exhibition will run from September 1 to September 30 in the Qatar Photographic Society Gallery, Building 18 in Katara.