Akkasah Launches 12 Historical Photo Albums

Constantine, Algeria. 1902. Copyright Akkasah: Photography Archive, NYUAD.

Over 1,500 photographs dating from the 1890s to the 1960s are now live

Akkasah, the photography archive at NYU Abu Dhabi’s al Mawrid Arab Center for the Study of Art, has published 12 digitized photo albums and prints from its archival collections.

The albums, which contain over 1,500 photographs, geographically span the region reflecting Akkasah's commitment to documenting histories across borders and throughout the existence of photography as a format. Countries featured are Algeria, Tunisia, Egypt, Turkey, Palestine, Lebanon, Syria, Iran, and Iraq.

Particularly rare is an album of photographs taken at the famous oil drilling site of Baba Gurgur 'father of fires’ in Kirkuk, Iraq, shortly after its discovery, showing the first gusher which occurred in October 1927. An album documents peace protests surrounding the Iran Oil Crisis of 1951 and a naturalist’s travelog of a trip in Algeria in 1902.

The images were researched and cataloged by Collections Management Archivist, Jasmine Soliman and NYUAD alumna, Emily Broad.


“The photographs date from the 1890s to the 1960s and feature incredible diversity of regional dress, customs, architecture, landscapes, and daily life. We’ve been able to develop such a diverse archive due to our flexible model of building collections. In addition to acquiring photographs, we work with individuals and families who want their 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.”

Collections Management Archivist Jasmine Soliman

Akkasah is home to a thriving archive of the photographic heritage of the Arab world and the neighboring regions. 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 35,000 images, with over 12,900 currently online. The archive is open to scholars, students and the general public by appointment. Akkasah welcomes proposals for new collections and collaborations.

al Mawrid Arab Center for the Study of Art at NYU Abu Dhabi advances interdisciplinary research on the history of the visual arts in the Arab world. The Center’s mission is to build an archive documenting modern art and photography, and to serve as a nexus for research that expands scholarship and teaching in the humanities and social sciences.