23-year-old Bahraini photographer Ali Al Shehabi moved to Dubai when he was two-years-old. His interest in photography started in the summer of 2016 when he was left incapacitated after an accident.
During his recovery period, Ali immersed himself in photography – spending hours and hours trawling through archives of photographers he’d long-been inspired by eventually lead him to pursue photography as a hobby (as soon as he could move again).
With no money to buy an expensive digital camera, Ali delved into his mother’s belongings and discovered a couple of film cameras that were still fully functional. His initial subjects were his friends and the mundanity of daily life in Dubai, “Even now, the people I take photos of the most are my friends,” he says, “there’s a lot of chemistry between all of us, so it makes the photos and the whole process flow smoother.”
As soon as Ali was back on his feet, he moved to Tokyo to study arts and languages at the Tokyo Academy of Language & Art, “I’d always dreamt of living in Japan,” he says, before adding that Japan’s aesthetic and art scene has inspired him since he was a child.
Having spent a summer shooting and studying in Tokyo, Ali bought his newfound Japan-inspired aesthetic back to Dubai – where he started shooting the youth in the region.
A project that he says was aimed at “putting Middle Eastern youth in the spotlight.” Which culminated in an exhibition entitled From The Middle East to the World, which he says depicted “The unspoken link between the Tokyo and Dubai – both are consuming cities that I’ve captured through their neon lights, public transport, busy streets and daily life”