Introduction

BUILDING A ROAD OR A BRIDGE MIGHT TAKE A YEAR OR TWO, BUT THE DEVELOPMENT OF PEOPLE TAKES A LIFETIME

His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum at the launch of Dubai’s 2015 Strategy


Dubai continues to direct its energy into development and the Dubai 2015 Strategy is a roadmap that charts his this sustained effort.

With this in mind H.H. Sheikh Hamdan Bin Mohammed Al Maktoum established the prestigious ‘Hamdan International Photography Award’. This demonstrates the commitment of Dubai to encouraging and supporting art, culture and innovation. The Award appeals to all talented photographers across the globe, and also nurtures national talent, which will in turn attract international art and cultural attention. The Award highlights how Dubai is fast developing into one of the most artistically conscious and established cities in the world.

Patron's Speech

Dear Talented Participants,

Everyone has different artistic senses. These senses are very much influenced by many things, big and small, visible and invisible. They could be environment related, all the things which we see and hear from day-to-day. They could be rooted to deeper, inner feelings, emotions and experiences. There is not one particular factor which contributes or influences a specific artistic form, but many. However, we will all probably agree that a true artist is like a light of hope which illuminates humanities path towards a brighter future, with his renewed creativity and vision.

Because true innovation is like an infinite pool of achievement, wisdom tells us that mere mortal words are insufficient to express the true value of the talented people, whose ambition is to uplift the value of beauty, through art, in a world that has become materialistic, calculating everything in currency, numbers and status, which sees only wins and losses in terms of materialistic possessions and positions. Art, in its many forms, is the highest form of communication; it speaks from the soul.

I thank all the talented photographers who have participated in this monumental event. Your efforts and the exceptionally fine models you have produced, which seamlessly combine the many artistic traditions and techniques of this art, regardless of education and background, with the beauty of reality, is an appreciated effort that reflects the important role played by the art of photography in the creative realm.

We present this award, which has been honoured with the blessing of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President of the United Arab Emirates, Prime Minister, and Governor of Dubai, in an effort to establish on the global stage an inspirational international competition. This is a competition through which artistic photographs communicate to all of humanity, without the need of words, and without the challenges of cultural boundaries. It is a competition which reaches out towards a wider horizon, one which embraces your talents and nurtures them to their fullest capacity.

Anyone who follows the evolution of the most important modern visual arts would have noticed the overwhelming popularity that the art of photography has acquired over recent times. This is without doubt a testament to the innovations of modern technology, which has unleashed infinite creativity amongst those talented in this field. Photography has become a most popular art, if not up to the level of practice, then up to the level of sheer delight of the visions depicted through its creative modes. Because the United Arab Emirates, specifically the Emirate of Dubai, strive to keep up, if not to surpass, this artistic uniqueness, through constructive economical and cultural development in order that our own talented be distinguished amongst the world’s best, we would be honoured if you would partner with us to shine our light of ambition and innovation through participation in this award.

The Emirate of Dubai presents to lovers of this particular art a new and refreshing international aspect through this award, which will distinguish it from other initiatives already sponsoring the art of photography. This new addition is for those who are inspired by our natural passion for innovation and leadership, and the constant encouragement and support of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, The Ruler of Dubai.

May Allah guide us all to recognise and pursue that which promotes the welfare and well being of a nobler world, with its graceful value of the arts. We trust that we are all capable of accepting and shouldering the responsibility we have towards our country, and are worthy of the faith put in us by our leaders.

Hamdan Bin Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum

Board of Trustees

Born in the Emirate of Sharjah, Abdulrahman bin Mohammed Al Owais comes from a family renowned for its cultural and literary interests. He graduated in 1989 from UEAU, Al Ain with a BA in Accounting and Information Systems.

While studying, Owais pursued his passion for photography, modern Arabic calligraphy and Arab plastic arts. Amongst his current tenures in the fields of literature, arts, culture and media the most important is his position as Minister of Culture Youth and Community Development, which he has held since 2006. He has also attends the following roles: 1992 to present: Member of the Sultan Bin Ali Al Owais Cultural Foundation’s board of trustees. Present: Chairman of the General Authority of Youth & Sports Welfare.

Beyond art and culture, he assumes leadership responsibilities in the financial and banking sector:

Current: Member of the Sharjah Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
1994 to date: Member of the board of directors of the Sharjah Islamic.
2001-2006: Mr Owais was also a member of the board of directors for Emirates Media Inc.
2004 to 2006: Board member of Real Estate Bank.

Hala Badri is the Director General of the Culture and Arts Authority in Dubai. Her extensive experience, dedication and professional leadership have enabled her to assume this responsibility after His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, issued a decree appointing her to this position.

Badri has a wealth of experience, knowledge and managerial competence that qualifies her to manage her responsibilities as Director General of Dubai Culture. With her deep understanding of local and international communication models, and her exemplary leadership qualities, she is more than capable of achieving the strategic objectives of the Authority.

Hala Badri has diverse experience in the oil and gas, entrepreneurship, sustainability, communications and media fields. She has also made outstanding achievements across several sectors ranging from supporting the process of transformation of companies through to the creation of brands, the advancement of social responsibility and the strengthening of corporate experiences. She has also played pivotal roles that have contributed to inspiring and motivating women in the UAE to pursue their aspirations and achieve their dreams.

Throughout her inspiring career, Hala Badri has held various important positions including:

  • Senior Advisor to the National Media Council (February 2018 - April 2019)
  • Senior Advisor to the UAE National Pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai (February 2018 - April 2019)
  • Senior Advisor for Communication and CSR at ADNOC (July 2017 - April 2019)
  • Executive Vice President, for media and communication at du (January 2006 - April 2017)
  • Director of Corporate Communications, ENOC Group (November 1998 - October 2005).

Badri currently serves on several boards of directors, including:

  • Dubai Future Council on Media
  • International Media Investment Group
  • The Galilee Center for Child Culture
  • Dubai Women’s Establishment
  • Hamdan Bin Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum International Photography Award (HIPA)

Hala Badri has extensive academic and professional experience through which she contributed to the acceleration of institutional success, and contributed to stimulate economic, social, ethical and sustainable growth. She operates to high efficiency that enables her to achieve outstanding results and for which she has received a wide range of awards and certificates of appreciation, on both a local and international level.


The most important include:

  • Hamdan Bin Rashid Award for Scientific Excellence (twice)
  • Award for the best student at the level of Higher Colleges of Technology
  • Medal of Honor for Social Responsibility in the Middle East 2014
  • Ranked among the top 200 most powerful Arab women in 2014 by Forbes Middle East
  • Best Arab Businesswoman Award at the Women Entrepreneurs Forum 2015
  • Ranked in the 'Holmes Report' list of the top 25 marketing and communication innovators in EMEA.
  • Ranked as one of the top 20 most accomplished women in the Gulf region. As per Brandberperes Magazine
  • Outstanding Executive Directors Award (from the “Private Equity Forum” organized by Amwal magazine in the Middle East and North Africa)
  • Ranked among the top 50 most influential Arab women in the GCC economy by (Amwal Magazine).

Hala Badri holds an Executive Master in E-Business from Zayed University and a Higher Diploma in Communication Technology (Journalism) from the Higher Colleges of Technology. Badri has a passion for public culture, education, development and the acquisition of knowledge and skills, as a result, she received a list of international certificates, and additional courses she joined and completed with honours during her career.


These include:

  • Mohammed Bin Rashid Leadership Development Program
  • The International Directors Program at INSEAD International Business
  • The "Leadership Model" program from the Swiss IMD College
  • UAE Government Leaders Program

Ali Bin Thalith is a professional documentary film photographer hailing from Dubai in the United Arab Emirates. He is also the current Secretary General of the Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum International Photography Award (HIPA).

He holds diplomas in Photojournalism and Documentary Photography (London Academy); French language and literature (University of Montpellier, France). 

As an underwater photographer, he has participated in many underwater expeditions throughout Asia notably in Indonesia’s Raja Ampat Islands and Sipadan in Malaysia. In Sipadan, he also helped establish an educational program for children of the remote oceanic island. 

As Secretary General of HIPA, Bin Thalith oversaw the fledgling competition in reaching photographers from 154 countries within its 4 years of existence. In November of 2013, he led a HIPA delegation to provide photography training and workshops to Syrian children at the Emirates-Jordan refugee camp in Northern Jordan. A series of photographs from the trip would later be exhibited and published as a book titled “Faces”. 

One of his most notable works is the short documentary film titled “Gaza Diver”, which narrates the journey and hopes of a young amputee who travels to Dubai for medical treatment – thanks to a noble gesture by His Highness Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the Crown Prince of Dubai.

In 2014, Bin Thalith was awarded with the International Photographic Council’s (IPC) Professional Photographer Leadership Award for his career work in the field of photography. As a result, Bin Thalith became the first Emirati and Arab recipient of the prestigious accolade at the IPC Pro Luncheon at the United Nations in New York City.

Majed Abdurrahman Al Bastaki is a poet hailing from in Dubai. He holds a higher diploma in Islamic Studies and Arabic Language. Al Bastaki holds numerous positions including those of Director of Information and Media Advisor for his Highness Sheikh Hamdan Bin Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai.

Due to his interest and passion in traditional poetry he was deemed the perfect choice to chair the ‘Higher Committee of Dubai Traditional Poetry Forum’ and the ‘President of Sheikh Hamdan Bin Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Initiative for Creative Writing’.

Al Bastaki is highly respected in the literary and artistic circles in the UAE and is a member of:

The Journalist Association, UAE
Publishing Committee for HRH Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum
Architectural Majed Al Bastaki

Matar Bin Lahej is an artist specializing in plastic artist, sculpture and photography. He has participated in a number of international exhibitions in: Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Kuwait, Berlin – Germany and Istanbul – Morocco. He is Director of ‘Matar Atelier for Plastic Arts’, which he established to fulfill the desires of the creative community. His mission is to explore, embrace, polish and refine artistic talents; and to nurture appreciation of the value of art and creative development through inculcating a greater respect, understanding and attachment to nature.

Bin Lahej also runs the Bin Lahej Group and Roots Group for artistic communication. He is a member of the Architectural Heritage Society. Since 1996, he has participated in dozens of group exhibitions; and been awarded numerous of international and local certificates of appreciation. He also organized a number of solo exhibitions from 1999 onwards, such as the Matar Annual Exhibition (1999-2010); and a by-play in Germany at the Ayyam Gallery in 2009.