through photography of monuments and historical sites throughout the
Middle East, North Africa, Europe and Asia is a necessary and important
factor. In places like the Arabian Peninsular from Kuwait to south
Yemen, the pace of change and rapid development has made it a priority
to record old buildings before they disappear forever. Whole ways of
life and living will be gone and evidence of often-unique forms of
architecture and social histories will at least be documented for
posterity. This process of recording through photography continues and
the filling in of gaps, where possible, is essential. There will be
future exhibitions of houses and their magnificent carved, wooden doors
from Oman, the Emirates and the United Arab Emirates.
take an example of the necessity of pictorial records is that of the
Neolithic site of Stonehenge, in Britain photographed in 1961.
stood out as an impressive Monument in 1961. For various reasons it has
been diminished by the changes that took place after 1961 when
barbed wire had to be erected around the site, and caravans serving tea
to tourists began to go up nearby. The whole atmosphere was tamed, and
the mystic feeling that hung over the whole area with the great stones
standing out prominently against a background of rolling hills,
windswept trees and cloud filled skies altered. The ambience of the
monument disappeared and it became just another tourist site.
The Byzantine Um el Jimal in Jordan illustrates how a once
beautiful building stood in the desert for centuries in almost pristine
condition and has now become a crumbling ruin. We have an example of
this in Kuwait with Bayt Al Ghanim that was a once superb example of the
type of building that a successful merchant might build. It was slightly
unusual in that it incorporated ideas from Persia, it had had a Turkish
bath and even some Art Deco type rooms as well as courtyards and pillars
that decorated even the most humble of Kuwaiti houses.