©Yasser Alwan

Akkasah, the Center for Photography at NYU Abu Dhabi, explores the histories and contemporary practices of photography in the Arab world from comparative perspectives: it fosters the scholarly study of these histories and practices in dialogue with other photographic cultures and traditions from around the world. Through a range of activities, the center also supports the developing photographic culture in the UAE.

Photographers were working in the Middle East very soon after the invention of photography in the mid-nineteenth century. But despite the fact that there are rich traditions of documentary, art and vernacular photography throughout the Middle East and North Africa, these traditions have yet to receive the full critical attention they deserve.

The Arabian Peninsula is a crossroads where the peoples, arts, cultures and economies of Asia, Africa, and Europe have encountered each other for centuries. Today the Gulf is cosmopolitan in a truly global sense. Abu Dhabi’s embrace of this history is most clearly manifested in its ambitious plans to build three major museums (the Zayed National Museum, the Louvre Abu Dhabi, and the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi) dedicated to regional heritage and world art. Akkasah aims to contribute to these crossroad encounters through an ongoing program of conferences, colloquia, publications, workshops, artist residencies, and exhibitions and through the creation of a photographic archive.

Contributiors Information

A Few Details for Contributors

Akkasah will provide managed digital storage — that is, digital storage in perpetuity with forward-migration for files once their original formats become obsolete — as well as state-of-the-art physical preservation for negatives or prints in the collection.

Contributors may submit their photos for high quality scanning after which the photos will be returned or they may give the photos to the archive permanently. In either case, a copy of the scanned image for each photo will be provided to the contributor.

To make the collection useful, descriptive information about the photos (either individually or in groups) will be necessary. Contributors may provide this information themselves or work with a staff member, effectively dictating the information.

The photos will be presented as separate collections, each with its own name and details about its origin. All of the collections will be aggregated in the main website for the Archive and will be accessible to the public.

Should a contributor want to provide photos to be made available publicly only at a later date, the possibility could be discussed with the Project Director.

Intellectual property rights for the photos will remain with the photographer unless specific arrangements are made to transfer the rights to NYU Abu Dhabi. The use of the photos will be governed by a memorandum of agreement composed for each collection.

Conferences and Colloquia

Akkasah plans to host a conference or a smaller colloquium of international scholars each year. These gatherings are intended to encourage and develop new scholarly research. They will address topics either directly related or of broad relevance to photography in the Arab world. The organizers of each conference or colloquium will seek publication for a selection of the papers presented.


Occasional exhibitions of both historical and contemporary works will be held at New York University Abu Dhabi’s public gallery at the University’s new campus on Saadiyat Island.

Contact Us

Akkasah: Center for Photography


Shamoon Zamir,
Associate Dean of Arts and Humanities and Associate Professor of Literature and Visual Studies


Özge Calafato,
Project Manager

Office: +971 2 628 5531
Email: akkasah@nyu.edu