Akkasah's New Nasri Fuleihan Digital Collection Features Images of Palestine Between 1910-1924

An aerial view of a town, Palestine, circa 1910s-1930s (ref62). Copyright: Gail O'Keefe Edson. Courtesy of Akkasah: Center for Photography.

Press Release

As people around the globe continue to stay home in light of COVID-19, Akkasah, NYU Abu Dhabi’s (NYUAD) Center for Photography, has recently released a digital collection of 367 photographs that were taken in Palestine between c. 1912 and 1924, available for the public to browse online.  

The Nasri Fuleihan Collection features a wide range of photographs captured by Nasri Fuleihan, a Cypriot of Lebanese descent who was born in 1891 and died in 1959. Fuleihan studied Civil Engineering at Purdue University, and following his graduation in 1912, he traveled to Palestine and worked as an engineer. Over the following decades he travelled between Jordan, Palestine, Egypt, and the US working on projects in each location, including the Holland Tunnel.  

Fuleihan made use of his camera during his daily work as an engineer, mainly in Southern Palestine, documenting the daily lives of workers involved in infrastructure projects and oil prospecting. Some of his photographs were inspired by the works of other photographers who operated in Palestine at the time, most notably the renowned Palestinian photographer Khalil Ra'd. The collection also includes business cards of several photography studios in Palestine, Egypt, and the US. 

Portrait of a man on a horse, Palestine, circa 1910s-1930s (ref137). Copyright: Gail O'Keefe Edson. Courtesy of Akkasah: Center for Photography.

“Fuleihan's photographs tell the story of his life and career among the Middle Eastern diaspora in the United States; beginning with his time studying alongside classmates from as far afield as Japan and the Philippines and later returning to the Levant. There he carved out a successful career and developed a network among leaders in Palestinian society, including Selim Ayoub and Ismail Bey el Husseini, officers of the Jerusalem Chamber of Commerce and Commercial Society of Palestine Bank.”

Jasmine Soliman, an archivist from Akkasah who worked on the collection

She added: “I am particularly proud of this collection as it was borne out of an intercontinental collaboration between the collection owner (Fuleihan's granddaughter, Gail O'Keefe Edson), Guy Burak (Librarian for Middle Eastern and Islamic studies at NYU-Bobst Library), the digital libraries team at NYU (DLTS) and Akkasah. The photographs were loaned to Bobst Library and digitized there by a Student Assistant, Mara Lasky. I then carefully researched and catalogued the digital images, assisted by NYUAD student Amna Al-Qubaisi. Akkasah's flexible model of building its collections means that we can work with individuals with family or personal photographic collections who are happy for their images to be digitally archived and shared on akkasah.org, whilst they retain the physical photographs. Over 2,800 of the images currently online are a result of 'digitize and return' collaborations.”

Akkasah, the Center for Photography at NYU Abu Dhabi, explores the histories and contemporary practices of photography in the Middle East and North Africa 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.

About NYU Abu Dhabi

NYU Abu Dhabi is the first comprehensive liberal arts and research campus in the Middle East to be operated abroad by a major American research university. NYU Abu Dhabi has integrated a highly selective undergraduate curriculum across the disciplines with a world center for advanced research and scholarship. The university enables its students in the sciences, engineering, social sciences, humanities, and arts to succeed in an increasingly interdependent world and advance cooperation and progress on humanity’s shared challenges. NYU Abu Dhabi’s high-achieving students have come from over 115 countries and speak over 115 languages. Together, NYU's campuses in New York, Abu Dhabi, and Shanghai form the backbone of a unique global university, giving faculty and students opportunities to experience varied learning environments and immersion in other cultures at one or more of the numerous study-abroad sites NYU maintains on six continents.