A media history researcher finds two surprises in a photograph

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A Zayed University (ZU) researcher found two surprises in a historical photo while researching the visual history of media pioneers in the United Arab Emirates (UAE).

ZU’s College of Communication and Media Sciences Professor Badran A. R. Badran was researching the visual history of the late Ibrahim Al Midfa, a pioneer journalist from Sharjah. He found an undated photo on Instagram showing Al Midfa in front of his old Sharjah house together with Kuwait’s first photographer, A. R. Badran.

For the researcher, the photo — which was posted on Instagram — wasn’t just about an historic and undocumented rare meeting between two Arabian Gulf media pioneers, it was also very personal.

Professor Badran remembered that his late father visited the UAE in the 1950s as part of a Kuwaiti educational delegation. However, he didn’t know that his father met with Al Midfa during the delegation’s visit to Sharjah. He had never seen this photograph before and as far as he is aware, there’s no record of the two men meeting.

“I was teaching my students about the history of UAE media and Emirati media pioneers and suddenly the story became very personal to me. Seeing my father with his camera in his hand chatting with Al Midfa brought this story a full circle,” Badran notes.

Further investigation revealed that several photographs that A. R. Badran took of Sharjah during his visit were posted on a website commemorating Al Midfa’s life. “Some of these photographs had my father’s hand-written notes identifying personalities from Sharjah and Dubai during the 1950s,” Badran adds.

Badran remembers that A. R. Badran wrote in his memoires that he also filmed this visit using a 16-mm camera. He hopes to find this rare film and to develop it.

Al Midfa’ (1909-1983) co-authored and published several publications in pre-independence UAE, including “Oman” and “Sawt Al Asafeer.” A. R. Badran (1917-2003) covered the Arab-Israeli conflict (1948) as a photojournalist and visually chronicled Kuwait’s history between 1949 and 1975.