Monday, May 6, 2013


Emirati Woman, Al Jahili Fort, Al Ain, UAE  © Doug Hickok  All Rights Reserved

At first glance it would seem I have little in common with this abaya clad woman. She and her female companions were on an outing exploring
 Al Ain's historic Al Jahili Fort.

I later learned, to my utter delight, the young Emirati is an aspiring photographer. Becky, and our UAE hosts Debi and Dale opened a conversation with her in this fortress courtyard. They noticed the women were toting camera gear and told her I was a photographer. When I walked-up to join the conversation, the young woman told me of her hopes to be a photographer one day.

I spoke with her briefly, explaining to her what I did as a commercial photographer in Charleston. With her face almost completely veiled, 

all I could see were her intense and curious dark eyes.
Their inquisitiveness gave me an idea.

I asked if it was permissible for me to give her my business card. She replied yes. So I did, showing her my website address on the card. She said that she and her companions would take a look. Her enthusiasm was touching to me. I hope sharing my images with her will be a small spark of inspiration to her, like other photographers were to me when I was at an impressionable age.

This was an extraordinary moment for me on our visit... knowing that two people who come from diametrically opposite cultures and life experiences could have photography as a mutual point of reference and connection.

It is important to note that although Arabic is the official language of the UAE, English is the most widely spoken. This made our communication possible.
And if Becky was not there, it would have been haram (forbidden by Sharia law, the moral code of behavior and religious dictates of Islam) for the woman to have any sort of exchange with a man she did not know.

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