The Earliest Photo of Mecca is Heading to the Louvre Abu Dhabi

This is what the holy site looked like over a century ago

Although Saudi Arabia has always carried a rich history, much of it was left unarchived. But a new exhibition at the Louvre Abu Dhabi will give an insight in to what life was like over a century ago, with the earliest photo of the Muslim world’s holiest site, Mecca, on full display.

Shot by Muhammad Sadiq Bey in 1881, the photograph will be presented as part of the Louvre Abu Dhabi’s first photography exhibition. Organised in collaboration with the Musée Du Quai Branly, the photo will be showcased alongside some of the world’s oldest photographs, including a few of Saudi Arabia and Yemen taken by Auguste Bartholdi, the French photographer and sculptor widely known as the man behind the Statue of Liberty’s design.

The show will also feature works by renowned photographers of that era, from the Turkish Abdullah brothers, Columbian photographer Luis Garcia Hevia, Chinese photographer Lai Fong, and Indian photographer Lala Deen Ayal.

“Pioneering photographers played a key role in making other cultures visible and accessible to people back home, the same way our audiences record their daily experiences to share them with their family, friends and online communities,” said Manuel Rabate, director of the Louvre Abu Dhabi.

Entitled Photographs 1842-1896: An Album of the World, the show will open on April 25, and feature over 250 pieces from Asia to the Americas, giving insight into what life was like during that time.

“Photography is one of the most important tools that has contributed to documenting the history of the world and its diverse cultures,” added Mohamed Khalifa Al-Mubarak, chairman of Abu Dhabi’s Department of Culture and Tourism.

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