Young and Full of Ideas: Amro Abu Kuhail

By Stefanie Peterson

Published: Sunday, January 01, 2012    

If a picture is worth a thousand words, then Amro Abu Kuhail is a very loquacious young man. Only 25 years old, Amro has been studying his hobby for six years, learning and reading as much as he can about the art of photography ever since joining the Emirates Natural History Group (ENHG). Now, Amro is dreaming big and working the lens to achieve the goals he has set for himself and his photography.

When he was 19, he put himself outside of his comfort zone and attended his first meeting with the ENHG's Al Ain chapter. "The group was very patient with me and so encouraging. Back in 2005, I didn't know how to speak English, just a few words. They were very patient, and took the time to explain things in very basic English, and they made sure I understood," explains Amro in his now fluent English.

Amro credits the group's mentoring with helping him to become the person he is today. "They have made me who I am, and helped my creativity. Imagine, a 25-year-old Arab, Palestinian-Jordanian and all these differences with culture… Sometimes I drive them crazy because I am young, [but] I will never forget all that they have done to help make me who I am."

The history group visits different locations around Al Ain to discuss the culture and explain the history of the city. Amro started taking photos at those meetings with his mobile, and eventually he bought a small digital camera. Soon, everyone in the club was encouraging Amro to enter their annual photography competition.

"People were motivating me and encouraging me. Step by step, I watched other photographers, asked them questions, and saw how they would angle the camera. I developed myself in order to become a good photographer. I decided to submit a photo to the group's photo competition and, ta-dah, I won first place. I thought to myself, 'OK, I think I have the eye [for photography].'"

Amro definitely has the eye for capturing his subjects, and the proof is in his photos. As a maturing photographer who still claims that this is only a hobby, Amro has entered numerous competitions and showcased his art in several exhibitions. "I won best photographer for the UAE continuously for two years. I have lots of first prize-winning pictures. Just recently I placed eighth, unfortunately for me, out of 4,730 entrants in the Al Ain Photographia Award. I won Dh10,000 as the eighth-prize winner. I was hoping for first place, but next year…"

During December's National Day celebration, Amro had 270 photos on display at the Al Jimi Mall's photo exhibition, and he sold them all before the week's exhibition had even ended.

Amro's passion is capturing the culture and heritage of his hometown, Al Ain, as well as photographing any kind of animal species. "I love insects, lizards, natural places and cultural photography. I can't stop talking about insects and lizards, maybe this is why I still don't have a girlfriend," Amro jokes. "The thing about insects is when we see a fly, we hardly pay attention to it. But when you look at the fly very close up, you wonder about the eye, the wing – it has so many marvelous details. This is what amazed me, to see how intricate a fly is and I wanted to show people. I do minimum edits to my photos on my camera; I just set my camera to vivid. That's all I do. Too much Photoshop and it's not the same picture. My message with every photo I take is this is how it really looks."

Amro is young and ambitious and desires nothing more than making Al Ain well known around the world. "My Al Ain blog is translated into eight languages, and I have over 315 Twitter followers. My message is to raise Al Ain city up. I want people around the world to know Al Ain. They know Abu Dhabi and Dubai, but I want them to know Al Ain, too. It is a small city, yes, but it is a city unlike any other in the Emirates. Every weekend, I provide free, guided tours around Al Ain. What else can I do? These are all my personal initiatives to bring Al Ain into the spotlight."

As a blossoming photographer, Amro is enthusiastic about his potential and knows what it is he wants to achieve: "I want to have an art gallery to show my work and create a picture book of Al Ain. I don't like writing; it's just too much to write when you can take one picture and get your message across."
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