Art And Culture

Iran Photographer Wins Afghan Prize

Iran Photographer Wins Afghan Prize
Iran Photographer Wins Afghan Prize

An Iranian photographer Ali Hamed Haghdoust has won the top prize of the UNESCO photo competition ‘Show Us the Afghanistan You Are Proud Of.’

Of the 3,033 photos submitted in the mobile-phone and camera photograph categories, a photo of Haghdoust in the latter category was selected as the winner and received a $5000 cash prize, Mehr News Agency reported.

Commenting on the winning photo, the jury said in a statement, “The photographer of the winning image of a carousel made a strong composition, getting down on the ground and shooting up so the whole sky is filled with the circling horses. The action, youth, and color in this image speak to the future, but also give a nod to traditional past as the children are leaning off their horses to pick up a coin, imitating their national game of Buzkashi (literally ‘goat dragging’, the national sport of Afghanistan in which horse-mounted players attempt to drag a goat or calf carcass toward a goal),” the UNESCO website reported.

Born in Tabriz, Haghdoust, 34, is a documentary photographer. His images, which focus on raising human rights awareness, have been published by AP Images, Sipa Press (French Photo Agency), Time Magazine, New York Times, National Geographic, Washington Post, and many more.

He has documented Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Turkey through his camera and his works have been shown in several solo and group exhibitions, winning awards too.

Afghan photographers Reza Sahel and Mohammad Ali Sheida were ranked second and third in the same category and were awarded $4000 and $3000 cash prizes respectively.

In the mobile-phone photo category, Iranian-born Afghan photographer Hamid Reza Rahmani won the first prize.


Rahmani, 25, usually takes landscapes. In his recently-held exhibition in Tehran he showcased Afghanistan’s serene scenery and natural environment as well as historical sites and tourist attractions.

“Unfortunately, most of the images on the subject of Afghanistan in the media deal with war and human disasters. But I believe that there is great beauty in the country that is unknown to the world,” he said.

Afghan photographers Najeeb Azad and Nasrullah Alili got the second and third prizes. All the three winners in the category received a $2000 cash prize each.

In the award ceremony on May 2, Director of the UNESCO Office in Afghanistan Patricia McPhillips said, “One of the most difficult tasks for strengthening state legitimacy of post-conflict states is to build a shared national identity and to restore a form of social capital. In the past decade, UNESCO has contributed to this task through its cultural projects in Afghanistan.”

A selection of the photos is on display at an exhibition in Kabul for a month and then they will be showcased in Switzerland on a request from the country.