The province of Asir, located in the South Western region of the Kingdom, is one of the oldest parts of Saudi. With well over a 1000 years of history, Asir is known for its intricate stone/mud architecture and thriving agriculture—
In the past twenty years, very little has been done to document the culture of Asir. With heavy urbanization threatening the traditional rural lifestyle, the creators of Asir: Sands in an Hourglass, aim to retain as much of the old customs through the visual mediums of photography and film. Young people (18-35 year olds) have been steadily leaving the area in droves to pursue jobs in other cities or in specific, the neighboring city of Abha. Their departure means a lack in the continuation of the age-old traditions that have persisted for thousands of years. As a consequence, many of the textiles or traditional crafts are now being manufactured outside the country.
Michael Bou-nacklie, the photographer and project creator, spent almost two weeks exploring and documenting his findings in the scenic region. “We documented how the culture of Asir has been changing and who are maintaining the old culture of the region,” he stated. “We also were looking at how the culture is adapting as the final harbingers of the traditional lifestyle become older and eventually will become unable to continue the work they do to educate others on what may be lost in another two decades.”
Covering 2000 km crossing from Jeddah to Abha, then Tanoumah, An-Namas, and Khamis Mushait, the team interviewed and photographed a variety of individuals ranging from academics and tribal patriarchs, to female souk vendors and museum owners.
The photography book and documentary film following the team during the expedition is expected to debut in various cities around the world, including Riyadh, Dubai, Washington, DC and London.
More about Michael Bou-nacklie:
Michael is a photojournalist from Switzerland as a freelance photographer with work shifting between commercial & editorial photography for a variety of clients across the world. With close to a decade of experience in editorial photography in the Middle-East, Michael has become a resource for editorial agencies seeking images which break conventional norms. He is represented by the largest editorial photography agency in the region Arabianeye/Magnet and even received first place awards from the Society of Professional Journalists for his editorial work as well as several other accolades. Currently he works as the managing editor for MIST magazine a fashion and technology magazine based online out of London.