Henry Dallal is someone you probably have not heard of. But you will be hearing about him soon as the photographer who's published work is published without digital manipulation. That is rare these days. He paired up with Diana C.K. Untermeyer to provide the photos for her new 240+ page book Qatar, Sand, Sea, and Sky. Like Dallal, we will be hearing more about Qatar in the coming years as it is set to host the 2022 World Cup. Untermeyer writes the book on Qatar from her role as the wife of a U.S. Diplomat who lived in Qatar for years and wanted to learn as much as she could about her temporary home in the Middle East.
Pictured below is Henry Dallal.
It is a long time coming because much of English language information on the country is about anything but its culture. That must have been why Dallal set out to photograph Qatar, and is certainly the reason how Untermeyer formed her idea in 2004 to begin writing this book, as she explains in her introduction.
As someone who is constantly feeling guilty about not reading enough, I often find solace for my bad reading habits in coffee table books, which are picture books for grownups. I really like travel coffee table books, with big pictures of places I've never been to inspire me when I'm sitting around my apartment and thinking about where I want to travel to next.
Recently, I picked up a coffee table book on Qatar. I have never been to Qatar, nor had I ever really thought about going there. Actually, I had never really thought about Qatar at all, apart from when I heard they won the bidding for the World Cup, I thought "Where is Qatar?"
But it’s the pictures that really make this book great. I leave it on my coffee table and when people come over they usually see it and say something like “why do you have a book on Qatar?” Pretty soon they open it up and start absent-mindedly turning the pages. Soon after that they are engrossed. I have heard multiple half-assed plans made in my apartment to go to Qatar in 2022 for the World Cup, based on a quick tour through Qatar, courtesy of this book. I think I might go.
I love the idea of being able to travel between the waterless desert and the Ocean so easily. I have never really had an appreciation for deserts; I always considered their barrenness a kind of ugliness. But seeing Dallal’s photographs gave me a new appreciation for the beauty of the desert, a beauty that is only increased by the inventive ways that people find to navigate it.
And then the ocean, so close by, is another extreme form of nature that the people of Qatar have managed to harness. In Dallal’s pictures, the ocean is a playground for the colors and shapes of vessels, both traditional and modern, that travel the Persian Gulf.
Another fantastic contrast in “Qatar: Sand, Sea, and Sky” is the contrast between the isolation of the desert and the hustle and bustle of the city. Doha, the capital of Qatar, comes to life in the pages, with marketplaces filled with action, motion, and commerce.
I have to check my planner, but I think 2022 is pretty wide open for me right now.