حكايات حب سعوديه

Saudi Tales of Love

Tasneem Alsultan

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Whilst Saudi Arabia is an international symbol of Islam, many Saudis would agree that there’s a strong disconnect between the Qur’an and local traditions. I wanted to answer question that many shared: Do we need marriage to signify that we have love? Do you need a husband to have a significant life?

I started the project thinking I only had my personal story to share. I was married at the age of 17, and living separately as a single parent for the last six years of an unhappy ten-year marriage. Many family members commented on how foolish I was to ask for a divorce. Only later, I realized that there were many Saudi women who had similar experiences, and who challenged expectations of a typical Saudi housewives. With each story, I found more women sharing complex marriage theories and experiences. I followed the stories of widows, happily married women, and divorced women. I explored the concept of love by photographing my young daughter and grandmother. Through my wedding images, I explored the expectations of marriage through elaborate wedding ceremonies and rituals. A common realization for every woman I photographed was that they all had managed to overcome the many hurdles that was put before them by the institution of family and the state.

Saudi Arabia

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Tasneem Alsultan

Saudi Arabia, 30

Tasneem was born in the US and educated in England, returning to Saudi for her undergraduate studies. Her masters focused on the ethnographic study of Saudi women abroad, receiving an MA from Portland State University. After years of teaching in universities between Saudi and the United States, she ventured into photography. As one of the premiere wedding photographers in the GCC, Tasneem documented the traditions and cultures that were celebrated. After shooting weddings for five years, she now uses her story telling experience to document topics focusing on human rights specific to gender and social issues in Saudi. In April 2016, Tasneem was selected by British Journal Photography among best 16 emerging photographers to watch. She soon joined Rawiya, the first all-female photography collective from the Middle East. Covered the first women’s voting and elections in Saudi Arabia, which took place in different cities across the country, for National Geographic. Also, covered stories in Saudi for Vogue Italia, Wall Street Journal, New York Times Lens Blog, and Wall Street Journal.

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