New photography exhibition in Abu Dhabi

A snapshot of life in the Middle East in the 1970s

A young girl shows off an infectious smile, a barber is busy at work and a traditional wedding is in full flow. These are not the horrifying images of carnage, bloodshed and devastation seared in our minds during times of war and conflict. But, hard as it can be to imagine, even during the most bitter of battles, life will go on – and hope of a better future will still shine through.

This stark contrast between the everyday and the unimaginable was chronicled by Dominique Baudis, a French photojournalist who was based in the Middle East during a time of sheer strife in the 1970s.

A new exhibition dedicated to the stirring black and white images of the late Baudis, who went onto become a newsreader before carving out a successful career in politics in his homeland, is now on display at capital culture spot, Alliance Française Abu Dhabi.

The exhibition, which takes its name Dans ses yeux from the book dedicated to the life of Baudis by his wife, Ysabel Saïah Baudis, is comprised of 30 images taken from all over the region, from Oman to Syria to right here in Abu Dhabi.

Among the striking snapshots of life is a picture of a young girl posing amid vast swathes of desert land in the capital – and exhibition organisers are hoping to reunite the subject with the photograph decades on. An Alliance Française Abu Dhabi spokesperson explained: “As Steve McCurry was looking for the Afghan girl [a girl who famously appeared on the cover of National Geographic back in 1985] we are looking for this young, mysterious girl taken in photography by Dominique Baudis in the ’70s in Abu Dhabi.

“By the word of mouth we are sure to find her, and for that we need your help. If one of your acquaintances was about 12 years old and lived in Abu Dhabi in the 1970s, there’s every chance it could be her.

“We would be honoured to offer her a copy of this photograph.”

Baudis, who sadly passed away at the age of 66 in April 2014, worked as a foreign correspondent for French TV channel TF1 from 1976 to 1977, before going on to become the Mayor of Toulouse in 1983 and later being elected to the European Parliament and being appointed to senior political postings by the French president of the time, Jacques Chirac.

An Alliance Française Abu Dhabi spokesman added: “Dominique Baudis, famous photoreporter of the ’70s in the Middle East tell us, through his black and white photographs, the life and hope of people living in countries in conflict.”

This is truly essential viewing...

Free. Until Feb 27 Sun-Thu 9am-8pm; Sat 9am-5pm. Alliance Française Abu Dhabi, Villa 75, Street 32, Al Bateen (02 612 2900).

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