London, Asharq Al-Awsat—Because time waits for no one, and doesn’t repeat itself, Saudi photographer Ra’ed Al-Maliki says he doesn’t miss a single opportunity to take a photograph.
Maliki was born in the Saudi city of Ta’if, where he graduated with a Bachelor of Science in physical education from Umm Al-Qura University. He is now employed by the Ministry of Education, though his main calling is photography.
Ra’ed is a member of local as well as international photography clubs, most prominently the Fédération Internationale de l’Art Photographique (FIAP) and the Photographic Society of America (PSA). He has participated in numerous local and international photography galleries and won several awards.
Recently, Maliki won a “World-Class Artist” title from the FIAP. Photographers are only eligible for the award if their work is accepted into international contests recognized by the organization. Maliki received the title’s certificate and badge from the artist Isa Angawi, FIAP’s representative in Saudi Arabia, who is known for supporting local photographers.
Speaking to Asharq al-Awsat, Maliki emphasized his belief in the saying that “a picture is worth a thousand words.” It was also this expression that prompted him to pursue his photography career.
He says that a photograph should pause a precise moment in time, fully encapsulating a pleasing memory and accurately conveying the photographer’s message.
Maliki points out that Saudi society was initially reluctant to accept photography and that photographers were regarded by some as socially inferior. Today, however, there are many in the Kingdom willing to champion the art form.
Maliki believes a lack of specialized institutes in Saudi Arabia has led him and other photography enthusiasts to educate themselves through practice. However, he emphasizes that without professional guidance, budding photographers can end up falling on bad habits, failing to fully develop their potential. There are few training courses offered in the region, and there tend to be long intervals between the classes throughout the year. Despite this, Maliki believes courses such as these are essential to a photographer’s development.
Maliki says there have been three significant highlights in his photography career: winning a prize from the Mecca Literary Club, something that encouraged him to pursue photography further and to buy a professional camera; and winning an international prize.
Despite the accolades he has won, Maliki says he does not regard winning prizes as an end in itself. His main goal is to take photographs that leave a lasting imprint on the viewer.
Maliki credits the role of Isa Al-Angawi in supporting his career, emphasizing his support to rising as well as professional Saudi photographers. Having been appointed as an adviser in the photography department in the Saudi Association of Culture and Arts, Angawi has recently doubled his efforts to raise the profile of the photography movement in the Kingdom.
Winning the “World-Class Artist” title at the FIAP was a goal Maliki had set for himself two years earlier, and he says it has brought him immense joy to learn that his efforts were fruitful. Maliki has a huge grin on his face when discussing this achievement, and says that it marks only the beginning of his attempts to fulfill even more goals in his photography career.