The Arab Image Foundation (AIF), a Beirut-based NGO, has launched an online platform amassing around 25,000 vintage, rare photographs out of its 600,000 assemblage dating back to 1860.
These dazzling snaps have been taken in different 50 countries across the Middle East, particularly Egypt.
Egypt forms a significant part of the AIF’s collection, providing intimate clues to some traditions such as funerals and other special occasions and glimpses into the personal lives of Egyptian families, ordinary individuals and celebrities from the past.
The archive encompasses negatives and printed photographs, with many of the photographers owners having donated most of their own personal photographs.
Costing US$255,000, the digitizing process was a collaboration between the organization and the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Sharjah Art Foundation, the Robert A. Matta Foundation, the Violet Jabara Charitable Fund, the Arab Fund for Arts and Culture and the Ford Foundation, according to the Art View website.
Launched in 1997, the foundation announced that the reopening of its distinguished building would take place this summer after three years of hiatus.
The NGO has had always a leading role to play in preserving Arab history through numerous exhibitions involving legendary artists and loyal audiences.
Through this platform, the organization has taken a groundbreaking step to easily bring the rich, vast history of the Arab world to audiences world-wide with just a single click.
The AIF’s Managing Director Marc Mouarkech explained that the online platform is a portrayal of the foundation’s efforts to be more collaborative, engaging the public and fostering creativity.
“The new platform will allow us to put into practice our new mission statement and preservation practice vis-à-vis our community, re-connect with the public after more than two years hiatus and open channels for research, initiate critical debate, foster new ideas, and encourage creative and collaborative work-processes,” he added.
Photo credit: Arab Image Foundation