Hindenburg zeppelin over Jerusalem, Palestine, 1936. Unidentified photographer. Photo: Arab Image Foundation.

Arab Image Foundation Launches Digitized Photography Archive

The Arab Image Foundation (AIF), a Beirut-based nonprofit organization and archive of photography from the Middle East, North Africa, and the Arab diaspora, has released 22,000 images from its collection on an online platform. AIF will also reopen its building, which has been closed since 2016, to the public this summer.

The foundation, which was established in 1997 by Fouad ElkourySamer MohdadWalid Raad, and Akram Zaatari, has a collection of over 600,000 photos and documents that have been assembled through donations and by artists and researchers over the past twenty years.

“We built this platform in a way that reflects our stance today: more open, more inclusive and more collaborative,” said Marc Mouarkech, managing director of AIF. “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.”

In an effort to ensure public access to its collection, the foundation launched its large-scale $255,000 digitization initiative in 2016 with support from 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.