Tanya Habjouqa is a photographer who was born in Jordan and educated in Texas. She received her masters in Global Media and Middle East Politics from the University of London SOAS. She is known for accessing quite sensitive gender, social and human rights stories in the Middle East. Habjouqa won the 2014 World Press Award for Daily Life Stories, was a finalist for the 2014 FotoEvidence Book Award and received the Magnum Foundation 2013 Emergency Fund. She is also a founding member of Rawiya photo collective, the first all female photo collective of the Middle East. Her work has been exhibited widely and the Boston Museum of Fine Art acquired her “Women of Gaza” series in 2013 along with other private collections. Habjouqa is based in East Jerusalem and is currently working on personal projects that explore life under occupation, subcultures of the Levant and identity politics. She has been published in Foreign Policy, CNN, New York Times and the Boston Globe along with countless others. Her photography seems to be angled in such a way that tells the story behind the story. Whether it is showing the netted legs of proud drag queens in Jerusalem from the ground upwards, or capturing pharonic tour guides in Cairo from an angle that makes them look Napoleonic, Habjouqa portrays her subjects’ subtle truths to present their beauty. She can show insecurity, pride, and a range of other characterizations in conceptually unique shots. Below are a few of Ramel’s favorites. Drag queens, drag racers, Arab body builders and yoga-ing hijabis are all featured. Learn more about Tanya Habjouqa at her own website.
Jerusalem: Drag queens vamp on stage during a show in a gay club. Both Israelis and Palestinian drag queens go to the gay club.
Cairo: Where the economy is struggling to stay afloat, touristic theater around the Nile seems normal these days. With 10 million tourists and 16 million inhabitants, the Egyptian sense of humor always seems to sprinkle the scene.
West Bank: Hyatt (left) is showing off what she learned in a yoga lesson from a visiting American yoga instructor. Now, Hyatt teaches the young residents of her village, Zataara, on the outskirts of Bethlehem. Yoga seems to be doing good for the women of the community, and some of the women here go to their favorite Roman ruins yoga spot.
Gaza: The Gaza Parkour team practices their back flips in a cemetery right outside their refugee camp in Khan Younis, Gaza. The holes in the walls behind them are from past Israeli incursions and skirmishes.
East Jersualem: The poverty and unemployment rate, along with the occupation has continued a steady pattern of drug addiction in the Palestinian community. East Jerusalem’s residents are mainly Palestinian but it has been occupied by Israel since 1967. With no control, the Palestinian Authority and Palestinians feel as though there is a lack of acceptable social and legal services. With this reality, there is little policing of the heroin dens in Shuafat Refugee camp.
Bedouin: This baby takes a nap in a makeshift hammock nursery, while her twin is being bathed. The Bedouin remain resolute to stay on their land and maintain their traditional culture. They resist proposed relocations. One plan is to relocate 2,300 Arab Jahalin Bedouins from the Jerusalem periphery to a site next to the Abu Dis Municipal garbage dump. Over 2,000 Bedouin reside in about 20 communities in the hills to the east of Jerusalem.
West Bank: The ladies who rally, or the Speed Sisters, are the first all-female auto racing team. The six women are a part of the Palestinian Motorsport and Motorcycle Federation.
Amman: The Arab bodybuilders show the supersized contestants in the 17th annual Arab Body Building Championship. “The Gaza Martyr’s Tournament”, competitors from 17 Arab countries squeeze into speedos to flex for the competition. While some men fell to their knees when they lost, others fainted because they refused to hydrate in order to maximize the definition of their muscles.