The Empty Quarter Gallery

Gate Village, Bldg 02, P. O. Box 506697, DIFC, Dubai, UAE
+971 4-323-1210

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Co-founded by Saudi Arabian Princess HRH Reem Al-Faisal and Emirati Safa Al-Hamed, The Empty Quarter is the first of its kind in the region: the one and only gallery in the UAE & Middle East devoted exclusively to fine art photography and serving a rapidly growing membership of artists and photo enthusiasts.

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    The Empty Quarter Gallery presents photographs taken in 1962 by Japanese photographer Y. Kawashima

    Y. Kawashima, Sankei Shimbun, 1962, Sheikh Rashid in his Office ©Y. Kimi M. Akai DUBAI.- It was in November 1962 when a Japanese photographer Y. Kawashima set foot in the Trucial States, today’s United Arab Emirates. Along with his fellow journalist, he was on a mission to report on the wider Middle East for the Sankei Shimbun Newspaper, as Japan’s interest in the region had been fuelled by the arrival of first shipment of oil from Khafji on Saudi/Kuwait border in the previous year. Having landed in Sharjah’s RAF airfield, the pair of journalists made their way to Dubai on a Land Rover taxi to stay in Airlines Hotel near the Creek, the first and only lodging there. Though Dubai then was a poor small settlement before the dawn of the modernisation era (the discovery of oil did not take place until 1966), it appeared to be a surprisingly lively place with trading and commercial activities. Kawashima who was enchanted by its energy, hustle and bustle “just could not help but pressing camera’s shutter”, thus capturing life in this harsh yet vibrant port town - from the ruler Sheikh Rashid in his humble “palace”, to the Creek, abra crossing, souk, wedding, school and so forth in his trusted Nikon F. By a stroke of luck there was a Dubai citizen Mr. Abdullah Kamal living in the town who spoke fluent Japanese as he had lived in Kobe, Japan in the1920’s and kindly showed them around. This most unexpected encounter enabled the journalists to visit some key places including the palace where they met the ruler Sheikh Rashid, affording Kawashima diverse shooting chances within a short period of stay of just 5 days. The collection was buried away and remained in the Sankei archive in Tokyo for nearly half a century until it was brought to the attention of Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, Sheikh Rashid’s youngest brother in 2007. Thanks to Sheikh Ahmed’s kind gesture, the two former journalists were invited to revisit the emirate for the first time since 1962, and subsequently the collection was brought back to…