• Eman Ali Inspired by the Middle East. Part of issue one “Comfort Zone”
2019 May 04

Eman Ali–Inspired by the Middle East

For someone like you with such an interesting background, the question of your personal comfort zone immediately comes to mind. You have worked and lived in many cities – is there a place where you can express your creativity better than others?
I am very much inspired by the Middle East, especially the Gulf region where I come from; so whenever I am there, I am always creatively stimulated. However, I don’t feel like my creativity is tied down to a particular place, as I find inspiration wherever I go. I love to travel and I am constantly on the look out for new places to shoot in. So if somewhere feels right for an idea I have in mind, then I’ll just go there.
So if your creativity is not limited to a certain city or country, what do you need in order to express your thoughts liberally?
I usually need a good music playlist and a playful attitude to get me going. This usually starts with a selection of heavy metal and punk tracks.
Could you identify any differences between creating art in the UK and in Oman?
Yes. In terms of print production, in London there are certainly more resources to choose from, which is great.
Your series of photographs titled „#Manama“ which revolves around photographing the Arab youth is an intimate insight into the youth culture of Arab regions. What is the main difference between youth culture in Arabian countries and elsewhere? Are there even any?
Youth are youth, no matter where they come from or what they look like. There is generally a lot of ignorance from outsiders about my part of the world, so it was important for me to provide a little insight into the way of life around here. It’s a window into a private world that they don’t necessarily have access to and it was my way of offering a different perspective.
Did you get the impression that the youth you photographed had doubts about their wellbeing – a certain heaviness of spirit?
No, in the moments I captured them they were free as they let go of their worries and inhibitions and just focused on having a good time for a few hours.
Do you create your very own comfort zone while you take photos?
I spend a lot of time alone taking my pictures so I’m very much living in my own little world for hours, in an almost trancelike state, until I get really hungry and come crashing back down to reality.
Is your personal comfort zone something that you reconcile with yourself? Is it a kind of mental zone?
It’s definitely a state of mind. Once you are comfortable in your own skin, nothing can stop you.

Find the whole story featured in our printed issue “Comfort Zone”.