DUBAI: Arab News, the Riyadh-based regional leading English language daily, offered students, young journalists and photographers a workshop on the art of taking portraits at the Arab Media Forum in Dubai on March 27-28.
The workshop was managed by Arab News’ head of photography Ziyad Alarfaj.
Alarfaj is a Saudi engineer who decided to follow his passion and dedicate his life to professional photography. He worked behind the scenes with large number of international media outlets, and since 2017, has been working with Arab News where his work is directly published.
Alarfaj’s work with Arab News ranges across several different photo-journalism projects where he takes portraits of successful professional Saudi women to shed light on the empowerment of women in workplace under Vision 2030.
“I was always passionate about story-telling, and being a visual person, I wanted to tell the story of the Saudi people through photographs,” Alarfaj said, adding that “I’ve lived outside of Saudi Arabia for more the 27 years, but I am always asked about my country, so it’s all about showing who we are, as we are.”
The project, titled TheFace: Portraits from the Kingdom, captures the true essence of professional Saudi women across the kingdom in order to highlight their positive impact and empowerment in the workplace.
“I always photograph the women at their homes in order to show that these negative rumors of women being oppressed at home are false. Ever since I held the camera, I promised myself that I will always portray the positive and not the negative,” the head of photography said.
“74% of Saudi Arabia’s population is below 35 years old, and they will be growing up soon looking for people to look up to…what we are showing are role models and people the youth can follow.”
Apart from TheFace, Alarfaj has also photographed a large number of Saudi royals, celebrities and covered major events.
Before he took on his passion for photography, Alarfaj studied construction engineering management at California State University in Long Beach, and has an MBA in IT from the University of La Verne. He went on to work in a multitude of countries for 16 years including the US, Kuwait and the UAE.