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Moments in Time by Emirati photographer, Alia Rashid Al Shamsi



Alia Rashid Al Shamsi, an up-and-coming Emirati photographer, has created Moments in Time – a photography exhibition inspired by weddings in the region. Alia’s photographs represent the perspective of the bride and capture key moments of a local wedding – starting from the banter with the bridesmaids while getting dressed to the moment of reflection, just before the ceremony. The photographs will be on display at the Ritz-Carlton, DIFC where the artist herself got married.


A moment is lost in the bulk of our memory set on a perishable timeline and captured only when made concrete by artists. Alia Rashid AlShamsi is one of those artists who values the beauty in and of a moment and created this photography exhibition to portray just that. In her first solo exhibition, she re-created her wedding day at the Ritz-Carlton in DIFC. Not only do we get to feel profound moments of her wedding day through her photos, but we get to experience those moments at the same place where the wedding actually took place.


The exhibition showcased 15 specific wedding moments through the photographs. Each moment had a specific time beginning with the eve of her wedding where a traditional Arabic celebration is done with Henna and the jewelry of her great grandmother. From the moment she awakes she feels the beauty of her big day, recalls the days of her childhood and remembers all the details in the wedding preparation right down to her mother’s emotions.


This exhibition highlights the serenity of a wedding. The photographer becomes a person who helped document the big day and the moment before greeting the guests becomes a moment of solitude. Finally, the glow in her face is portrayed when she encounters her groom before they are married.


Moments in time is a sentimental title that draws you in. Yet to Al Shamsi, there was not one moment of significance but it is about the whole process of the wedding. All the moments brought her feelings of ease, happiness, peace and togetherness.


“I wanted to create an exhibition inspired by the memories from my own wedding […] but not in a typical way; I wanted to capture those simple, intangible elements that are often overlooked when we reflect on a wedding,” says AlShamsi.


Her photographs are simplistically detailed, elegant, reflective and feminine with a touch of pink and white throughout the photos. The woman in the photographs emanates perfection which reflects Al Shamsi’s style of combining fashion and art.

“This exhibition was inspired by my love of vintage fashion photography. I am a fan of the photos in Harper’s Bazaar and Vogue when Diana Vreeland was Fashion Editor. I also like a collection of photographers from that era like Lillian Bassman and Richard Avedon. A contemporary artist that I like is Tim Walker. All their work combines fashion and art.”


While many of her interests reflect the aesthetic of combining fashion and art, the theme usually focuses on time.

“A lot of my pieces focus on time. I’m really interested in the concept of time and how time can be captured and frozen whether in a photograph, poem, painting or digital pieces of art. It’s something that passes that you can’t go back to unless you capture it. It’s personal and applicable to a lot of people.”

Aside from this exhibition, what is Al Shamsi’s greater role as an artist in the UAE? The UAE, in all its luxury, remains a young and blossoming nation that has yet to be established in areas such as art. When Al Shamsi was asked what her role and contribution would be in the emerging art scene, she told us this:

“Hopefully, I can be a part of the emerging artists within the art scene [in the UAE]. As an Emirati artist, the challenges are that there is a lot of talent in the UAE and people interested in art. But there’s no one place where you can be guided to create a portfolio and be focused in your journey through art. If you didn’t study at university, it’s hard to find a place that offers courses. I read a lot and try to learn from people in the field. Also, my family is accepting and proud of what I do and push me towards achieving my goals.”

She is already contributing to the flourishing of art through this very exhibition. She gives it a woman’s touch and a local perspective.

This article was compiled by Journalist Sonia Abdulbaki exclusively for Dubai in a Frame. To read more of her work, please click here.

Watch the video of Alia speaking about her work: