Type “Muslim countries” into Google image search and you’ll find pages filled with images of war or opulent wealth. This is why Al Safar (“the journey” in Arabic) was born. The photography project aiming to shed light on the lesser seen places and faces of the Muslim world, devoid of Western clichés, showing the multiplicity of the Muslim experience. “We believe in challenging prejudices,” explain the founders, “by confronting perspectives through a humanist and artistic approach that highlights the diversity of communities otherwise perceived as monolithic.”
In partnership with UNESCO, National Geographic and the Misk Art Institute, Al Safar commissioned French photographer Yan Bighetti de Flogny to travel around almost 40 Muslim countries and document their multi-faceted realities. Aptly titled In the footsteps of Ibn Battuta, the series captures the photographer’s journey following the itinerary of legendary Muslim scholar and traveller Ibn Battuta, who undertook four three-decade long journeys throughout the Muslim world in the 14th century.
Carrying his camera with him everywhere, Bighetti de Flogny—who embarked on his journey in early 2018 with no preconceived notions— wants to use his honest everyday images to build a new, more uplifting narrative of the region. And what’s even more important for the project as a whole is to celebrate the emerging youth movements that define the region’s new generations, and challenge the stigma associated with young Muslims. The result is a visual love letter to the raw and multidimensional beauty of Muslim countries.
Find Al Safar on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.