A Young Saudi Photographer’s Love Letter to Jeddah
21-year-old Kinzy Al Saheal shows a little-seen side of the city
Sarah Ben Romdane
Born and raised in Jeddah, 21-year-old photographer Kinzy Al Saheal recalls never feeling comfortable taking pictures in her hometown while growing up. “I was always refrained from doing so”, she says before adding, “that’s why I exclusively took pictures of friends in their homes”. But having recently moved back to Jeddah after graduating from her arts degree in the US where she lived for a few years, Al Saheal finally found the freedom to document the lesser-known parts of Jeddah. And it’s beautiful.
“Because I was away for my studies, I didn’t see the changes happen”, says the young photographer, discussing how different it feels to live in Jeddah today. With Jeddah’s own creative ‘microclimate’ blossoming, the young photographer believes that now is the best time to be an artist. And although she’s particularly excited to see the next generation’s voices finally being heard, what feels most important to her, is getting the chance to shed a light on the beauty of the everyday moments of life in Jeddah’s historical neighbourhood Balad.
“I was surprised by how receptive and accepting people were to my cameras in their personal space”, she says of her photo series. Al Sahael’s photography depicts a lesser-known vision of Jeddah, a far cry from the images of opulence and glitz usually associated to the Kingdom. “What I’ve always admired about Jeddah is its diversity and cosmopolitan nature”, she says. Convinced that photography is giving her the power to explore her own identity in an unprecedented way, her images—which deflect perceptions in the media—are a love letter to her hometown and people.