Modernity and tradition: Khalid Habash’s stunning photos of Saudi
SUSTG Analysis | Lucien Zeigler | 9.21.12
It is no secret that Saudi Arabia’s economy and society are modernizing at a remarkable pace. Already the Arab world’s largest economy, the Kingdom also has one of the world’s highest GDP growth rates. Government spending is expansive and investment in infrastructure, education and numerous other sectors are at all time highs. Soon to be home to the world’s tallest building in Jeddah and other large-scale development projects, the Kingdom is nothing like what it was 5 years ago, let alone 10 or more. The growth tells only part of the story. Saudi Arabia is also a nation that celebrates tradition, and along with being home to the holy cities of Makkah and Medina, its citizens are devoted followers of Islam. As such, Saudi Arabia’s economic transformation is unfolding in a unique environment. Modernity is proceeding within a traditional culture.
Following his studies in the United States, avid photographer Khalid Habash recently returned to Saudi Arabia and has shared some of his striking images with SUSTG.
[A new mosque under construction in Makkah, near a well-to-do neighborhood. Saudi Arabia's economic growth has fueled commercial and religious projects across the Kingdom. ©Bashphoto]
Khalid is a good friend of SUSTG having volunteered at the 2010 US-Saudi Business Opportunities Forum in Chicago. He was featured on SUSTG in May of this year for his excellent photographs of the SACM career fair held in Washington, DC; an event that brought thousands of Saudis to the nation’s capital to celebrate their graduation from US universities and network with Saudi companies interested in hiring the next generation of Saudi technocrats and leaders.
Khalid first got into photography in 2007, after meeting Saudi director Hamzah Jamjoom. Although now famous for his starring role in IMAX Arabia 3D, which has toured many cities across the United States, Mr. Jamjoom at the time was still a student at DePaul University College of Computing and Digital Media in Chicago and also teaching a class there in photography. After a class with Mr. Jamjoom, Khalid told SUSTG he was immediately inspired to learn photography.
Since then, it has evolved beyond just a hobby into a business and art form.
[The Makkah-Jeddah highway at night. Khalid snapped this image on one of the last nights of the month of Ramadan. Nearly 3 million Muslims attended services at the Holy Mosque in Makkah that evening. ©Bashphoto]
[Statues located in roundabouts. ©Bashphoto]
After purchasing his first camera (a Nikon D90), “I started to go out and take pictures everywhere in Chicago,” Khalid said. Then hooked and really stretching his legs on different types of photography, Khalid admits he couldn’t resist continually upgrading his equipment – from new lenses to speed-lights, light sensors and tripods – “until it was the best in line.”
“So when the hobby became very expensive for me, I decided to make some money out of it so I could keep upgrading my equipment. I started with weddings photography, advertisements, films, music videos, macro photography, and product photography until covering my equipment and even helping to build my small studio in my house near Milwaukee, Wisconsin,” Khalid said.
["Sorry, this gas station is closed for prayer time" reads this sign. "This is a very unique thing that you might only see in Saudi," Khalid told SUSTG. "Everything will be closed for about 30 minutes to give people the chance to pray. When I served as an HR manager for a company in Saudi, I always thought of this time as a much needed and refreshing break for for all laborers for any relgion - it's a concept that I really like." ©Bashphoto]
[Construction in Makkah at sunset. ©Bashphoto]
[Construction in Mecca. ©Bashphoto]
[A gathering of Khalid's friends at a famous fish restaurant near Makkah. "Our fish in Saudi Arabia is so tasty," Khalid told SUSTG. "It has a really high salinity, and it is often served deep-fried like you see in this picture. Lots of people have fish in Saudi Arabia on Friday, a custom shared by some in the United States as well." ©Bashphoto]
[Artwork mimicking the old neighborhoods in the Makkah mountains, taken at the Abdulrauf Khalil museum in Jeddah. ©Bashphoto]
[This large structure extends over eight lanes of traffic and a wide center highway divider on the Makkah-Jeddah highway. It is in the shape of an enormous bookstand holding the Quran. ©Bashphoto]
[The Arabian camel is often associated with Saudi Arabia and the desert. Here, two camels outside of Makkah during the Eid holiday. People in Saudi Arabia consider meat from the camel to be a delicacy. ©Bashphoto]
[Much needed shade is provided by umbrella-like covers. ©Bashphoto]
[Juice World is a new business in Saudi Arabia that offers fresh juice, with beautiful displays of fruit. ©Bashphoto]
[A traditional mosque on the Jeddah Corniche. ©Bashphoto]
Although Khalid’s recent Master’s Degree is in Leadership and he has experience working for different companies in Saudi Arabia, he won’t rule out making photography his life’s work despite other career prospects in the HR sector.
“Honestly, my dream now is to start a professional studio in Saudi and one day expand into a chain of studios across the Arabian Gulf,” Khalid said.
(The photography in this slideshow is courtesy of Bashphoto and used by permission.)