Akkasah, the Photography Archive at NYUAD's Al Mawrid, Launches the Collection of His Excellency Butti Bin Bishr

H.H. Sheikh Hazza bin Zayed, H.H. Sheikh Zayed and H.E. Butti bin Bishr in Spain. Circa 1969. Copyright Maryam Al Falasi. Courtesy of Akkasah, al Mawrid.

The collection has been launched in collaboration with HE Butti Bin Bishr’s granddaughter Maryam Al Falasi

Press Release

In honor of the 50th UAE National Day, Akkasah, the photography archive at NYU Abu Dhabi’s al Mawrid Arab Center for the Study of Art, has launched the Collection of HE Butti Bin Bishr, private secretary of the late His Highness Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, with 11 digitized images. The full collection, which will be released in the coming year, marks an important collaboration between Akkasah and HE Butti Bin Bishr's granddaughter, Maryam Al Falasi.

Between 1968 and 1978 HE Butti Bin Bishr served as the private secretary, and later  as the director of the late HH Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan’s office. The 723 photographic prints and 136 unique documents and letters that comprise the collection were created during this period, offering a rare view of the daily life and diplomatic events at the late HH Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan’s court.


“The images and documents that make up this collection offer invaluable insights into the life and work of both the late HH Sheikh Zayed and HE Butti Bin Bishr, and the years in which the Emirates emerged as a new and united nation. The collection will be an important resource for both scholars and for the citizens and residents of the UAE.  The HE Butti bin Bishr Collection will make a vital contribution to Akkasah’s growing archive of photographs from the UAE, which includes the photographs from the collection of HE Zaki Nusseibeh, Cultural Advisor to the UAE President, and photographs of the Al Qassim family.”

Founder of Akkasah Shamoon Zamir

HE Butti Bin Bishr, who was born on Muharram 21, 1360 AH (May 18, 1941 AD), passed away on Rabi al Awwal 1432 (February 22, 2011). After working as the director of the Oman Bank in Al Ain, HE Butti Bin Bishr occupied a number of different administrative positions at the court of the late HH Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, before becoming private secretary and then the director of his Office. Since his passing, Maryam Al Falasi, his granddaughter, has cared for his valuable collection. She approached Akkasah after reading an article about the archive and soon afterwards the Center’s Archivists, Jasmine Soliman and Jonathan Burr, visited and conducted an appraisal and inventory of the Collection over two days.

Soliman said: “Working with Maryam has been a pleasure for Akkasah. Her generosity in sharing the collection and her knowledge of both her family’s and the UAE’s history will enable us to catalogue the collection with great detail; attributing names, dates, and locations to many of the photographs. These details will bring a richness to our understanding of the collection and to the documentation of the UAE’s history.”

She added: “Our flexible model of building collections means that we can work with individuals and families who are happy for their photographic collections 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.”

Commenting on the collaboration, Al Falasi said: “I’ve always been passionate about this archive because of how dear these photographs were to my grandfather. Digitizing his archive is a way for me to contribute to his legacy and ultimately to the UAE’s history. Through the preservation of these photographs and documents, I’m honoring his memory.”

Akkasah is home to a thriving archive of the photographic heritage of the Arab world and the neighboring region. Part of al Mawrid, the Arab Center for the Study of Art, Akkasah is dedicated to documenting and preserving the diverse histories and practices of photography from the region, and our growing archive contains at present over 33,000 images, with over 11,000 currently online. The archive is open to scholars, students and the general public by appointment. Akkasah welcomes proposals for new collections and collaborations.

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.