Norah Alamri Captures an Unfiltered Side of Saudi Arabia

Screenshots from behind windows

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“I’m not trying to create a surreal vision of Saudi Arabia. I’m only capturing the moments for what they really are,” says Riyadh-based Saudi photographer Norah Alamri. 

The 28-year-old has been fascinated by the buzzing energy of streets in the Kingdom ever since she started experimenting with photography a decade ago. From young men sat at the chairs of their local barbers to those sat on the passenger seats relishing in their impromptu joy rides, Alamri’s photographs capture unfiltered high-spirited moments of everyday life with pure realism.

“I love exploring new places and meeting locals. Every city in Saudi Arabia has its own tradition, food and dialect, which I’m trying to translate in my photographs,” she says.

All it takes is a little stroll in the streets of Riyadh for the photographer to find inspiration in random human encounters—moments that she loves to freeze from behind windows.

“I looked around and noticed a barbershop behind me. While a man was getting his beard shaved, my reflection on the window formed almost like a frame for the moment so I took a photo of it,” she explains.

Shot before lockdowns wiped the streets clean of human interactions, Alamri’s photographs breathe nostalgia for a time when everyday life filled cities. Her series takes on a different amplitude, preserving such moments in times of solitude and distance.

She set out to continue the series in her rare outings during the pandemic, still, and photos of drive-through COVID tests replaced the cheerful young men behind car windows and the old men sat at cafes enjoying their morning coffee.

“An encounter that has truly impacted me was of a man selling spices in his store with a frame that had ‘Through gratitude, blessings last’ written on it. It made me reflect on life and how we should be thankful for everything even when going through tough situations, especially during this world crisis,” she says. 

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