The Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque Centre has launched the eighth season of the Spaces of Light photography award, coinciding with the International Day of Tolerance, commemorated on 16 November every year.
In line with its commitment to promoting the values of tolerance, coexistence and peace, the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque Centre organised this award as part of its comprehensive programme. Since its inception, the Spaces of Light photography award has aimed to foster a deeper understanding and bridge the cultural divide between civilisations. It strives to create a platform for meaningful cultural exchange by embracing humanitarian concepts.
Building upon the previous season's success, which focused on the theme of Tolerance, the eighth season of the award will centre around the theme of Peace. This global concept resonates with people from all walks of life, transcending borders and uniting us in our shared pursuit of harmony.
His Excellency Abdul Rahman Al Owais, Chairman of the Board of Trustees of Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque Centre, said. “These endeavours aim to promote humanitarian values and disseminate the principles of goodness, tolerance and coexistence across the globe. Inspired by the visionary approach of the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan and guided by the directives of our wise leadership, the UAE has firmly established itself as a global hub of tolerance. Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque has triumphantly solidified its active role and distinguished status as a worldwide cultural and intellectual platform. It serves as a unifying force, attracting creators and thinkers from diverse backgrounds and providing them with unwavering support to showcase their intellectual, cultural and artistic creations. These endeavours not only enhance the mosque's message but also underscore its pivotal role as a bastion of moderation and religious tolerance. By presenting the essence of Islam and its noble spirit through contemporary frameworks that align with the realities of our time, the mosque continues to resonate with a global audience.”
His Excellency Sultan Dhahi Al Humairi, Deputy Chairman of the Board of Trustees of Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque Centre, voiced the centre's belief in photography as an influential medium capable of bridging gaps in language and beliefs while promoting cultural understanding. In light of this, Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque Centre has launched the Spaces of Light photography award.
His Excellency Sultan Dhahi Al Humairi said: “The award celebrates art and creativity as essential tools for expressing noble human values, fostering direct communication between individuals, bridging gaps and erasing boundaries. The selection of Peace as the theme for this edition underscores the centre's unwavering commitment to promoting tolerance, coexistence and peace among diverse cultures. Additionally, it highlights the centre's dedication to investing in the talents of creators and harnessing the potential of cutting-edge technologies. By blending tradition's virtues and noble qualities with contemporary techniques, the centre creates a unique fusion that contributes to the overall wellbeing of humanity.”
His Excellency Dr. Youssef Al Obaidli, Director General of Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque Centre, said: “This year's theme is Peace, coinciding with the International Day of Tolerance celebration to emphasise the award's role as a platform for promoting the mosque's message of tolerance and peace. Over the years, the Spaces of Light photography award has established itself as a global leader in the field of photography. It has become a renowned cultural event, attracting the participation of professional and amateur photographers worldwide. This international recognition has greatly influenced the quality of previous editions, allowing the award to effectively spread the mosque's messages of peace and tolerance on a broader scale. In this year's edition, the award aims to further solidify its presence by presenting various artistic themes that inspire creativity in artists and photographers from different countries. These themes will encourage the production of visually stunning works and reflect the core human values upheld by the mosque.”
Within this unique context, the centre has inaugurated the mobile exhibition of the Spaces of Light award, commencing its first stop at the World Congress of Media Exhibition and Conference. This significant event was held in Abu Dhabi in collaboration with the Ministry of Tolerance and Coexistence. The mobile exhibition serves as a platform to showcase a curated selection of photographs from previous seasons of the award, collectively expressing the profound humanitarian concepts of tolerance and peace.
To further amplify the impact of this exhibition, the centre's cultural tour specialists presented images that embody the essence of tolerance and its living concepts within the vastness of the mosque. This initiative was thoughtfully aligned with the International Day of Tolerance, emphasising the importance of fostering harmony and understanding among various cultures.
The eighth edition of the award showcases a wide range of captivating themes, providing a platform for creative photographers to present their unique and unconventional works. The grand prize in this edition is titled Mosques and Masjids. Photographers participating in this category are invited to contribute beautiful pictures of mosques from different nations, allowing them to present their own unique perspectives on the concept of peace within these sacred places.
In the Technical and General photography category, Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque offers an expansive canvas for photographers to showcase their skills in capturing photographs of the mosque, be it with or without the presence of individuals within the mosque. Abundant elements within the mosque's premises can be harnessed to enhance the technical and general imagery, whether through vibrant colours or the timeless allure of black and white. Photographers are presented with the chance to capture panoramic vistas of Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, both from its inner sanctum and exterior surroundings.
In the Digital Art photography category, the centre provides a platform for photographers to transcend conventional boundaries and showcase their artistic creations that seamlessly blend realistic imagery with their imaginative and aesthetic visions. This category empowers photographers to infuse their images with unique designs and artistic touches, employing cutting-edge digital design programs to craft a distinctive and innovative style.
The third category, Life at the Mosque, aims to document people's experiences during their visit to the mosque. This category highlights the significant role of the human element within the mosque, as they are harnessed as a fundamental element that enhances the aesthetic meanings in creating distinctive artistic content.
The Life at the Mosque category is further divided into three sub-themes. The first theme, Narratives, invites photographers to participate by submitting a series of four to eight images that vividly express a life story, a topic or an activity behind the scenes. These images can capture a day in the lives of mosque visitors from diverse backgrounds and nationalities, including worshippers and visitors. Through these photographs, we aim to showcase the rich tapestry of experiences within the mosque.
The second theme, Time-Lapse, allows photographers to present a time-lapse video clip of up to two minutes. This video can focus on any subject that the photographer deems appropriate, whether it be the movement of worshippers and visitors in the mosque, the interplay of light and shadows, the sunrise and sunset, or any other activity behind the scenes. Through these time-lapse videos, we aim to capture the dynamic essence of life within the mosque.
Lastly, the third theme in this category is Video Films. Here, participants can showcase their creativity by submitting short video clips filmed within the mosque. Each video should be at least two minutes long and must express a life story or provide a glimpse into what happens behind the scenes.
The centre has allocated cash prizes for the top three winners in each award category to inspire and support creators who showcase creativity and uniqueness in their artistic works. The total value of these prizes amounts to AED 850,000. Photographers and artists can submit their works through the award's official website: https://photo.szgmc.ae/. Participation is open until October 2024.
The centre's objective in extending the participation period for an entire year is to allow photographers to capture the essence of all seasons and events that the country witnesses. Participants can take advantage of the various activities hosted by the mosque, including those during the holy month of Ramadan.
The Spaces of Light Award has garnered significant attention from both professional and amateur photographers worldwide in its previous seasons. This global recognition has greatly influenced the award's success in previous editions. It has allowed the award to spread the message of the first mosque, promoting concepts of tolerance, coexistence, and respect on a large scale. The number of participants in the award has surpassed 7,419 individuals from over 70 countries, who have collectively submitted more than 27,000 images.