It is said that a picture is worth a thousand words. Sometimes it may sum up an entire situation and reflect deep connotations that words alone cannot explain. Therefore, we have chosen 10 photos that — in our view — sum up the state of the Arab region in 2022.
1- A Damascene Christmas
On December 11, 2022, Syrian photographer Omar Sanadiki published a photo showing a Syrian child garbage collector facing another person dressed as Santa Claus.
Both of them are carrying a sack, with the difference being that the child's sack is laden full of garbage he’s carrying on his back from its sheer weight, while Santa Claus’s sack is full of gifts he’s carrying in his hands without much difficulty.
Perhaps there is nothing better suited than this picture to indicate the consequences of more than a decade of war in Syria on children.
2- Mothers and the Moroccan team
While Morocco's national football team gave the world a brilliant performance during the Qatar 2022 World Cup, one of the most spectacular moments was that of the team's star player Achraf Hakimi and his mother celebrating after each match he and his team won.
Hakimi's kisses on his mother's face, head, and hands in appreciation and recognition of her role in his life and career, have captured the hearts of audiences in Arab countries and across other regions of the world.
3- The Iraqi Marshes drying up
On August 10, 2022, Hussein Faleh, an AFP photographer in Iraq, published a photo showing three buffaloes staggering weakly across the dry marshes near the Qurna oil field in the northern Basra Governorate in southern Iraq.
In the same scene, two boats sit dry and neglected due to the receding waters, with big cracks appearing in the soil that has completely dried up. The photo is compelling evidence of the impact of climate change in the region, and the bad water policies in Iraq.
A Syrian garbage collector facing Santa Claus, a Yemeni artist with a prosthetic leg plays his oud, Mayyas lights up the darkness of Lebanon... 10 photos that - in our view - sum up the state of the Arab region in 2022
4- A wounded Yemen that still dreams
This photo was published on October 3, 2022, after it was taken by Yemeni photojournalist Khaled al-Qadi of artist Ali Mahyoub, who had lost his leg as a result of a rockslide caused by a rocket-propelled grenade in the Jabal Sabir area of the Taiz Governorate.
The sight of the elderly artist playing his oud with his prosthetic foot on display reflected the state of a wounded Yemen after nearly six years of civil war that caused the country’s collapse on all levels, yet the artist still retains hope and is able to sing and dream.
5- The Jordanian survivor
After more than 20 hours under the rubble, the Civil Defense Forces in Jordan managed to get civilian Hani Rostom out safely, amidst the cheers and joy of everyone present. This came following the collapse of the al-Weibdeh building, a four-story residential building in Jordan's capital, Amman.
6- Sanaa Seif and the international media
After she moved to settle in Britain to intensify her efforts in pressuring the British government to contribute to the release of her brother Alaa Abdel Fattah, a writer and activist detained in Egyptian prisons, Egyptian-British activist Sanaa Seif took a courageous step by traveling back to Egypt. There, she held a seminar on the human rights situation in the country and her brother's plight, on the sidelines of the COP27 Climate Change Conference hosted in Sharm el-Sheikh.
In a "powerful" photograph, Sanaa stands while completely surrounded by international media, immediately becoming the focus of the event as soon as she walks in.
7- Qatar World Cup
Since the announcement of Qatar's victory in hosting the 2022 FIFA World Cup more than 10 years ago, many have questioned the small Gulf emirate's ability to organize such a huge event that millions of people around the world were waiting for.
However, what’s been done can be considered a great achievement in terms of stadium preparation and logistical operations regarding the accommodation of teams and fans from different countries across the world, along with their transport to and from stadiums, at a level no less in any way than the previous versions of the World Cup, aside from a few problems that didn’t affect the course of the tournament.
Israeli forces attacking the funeral procession of Shireen Abu Akleh, Sanaa Seif surrounded by the lenses of the international media, and the Iraqi Marshes drying up... 10 photos that – in our view – sum up the state of the Arab region in 2022
Qatar has arguably proven that the MENA region is capable of hosting global events, especially ones that are popular and its citizens are eager to be a part of.
8- The funeral of Shireen Abu Akleh
While the murder of veteran Palestinian journalist Shireen Abu Akleh by an Israeli bullet to the head while she was covering the Israeli offensive on the Jenin camp in the occupied West Bank in May 2022, showed the ugly face of the Israeli occupation and the targeting of unarmed civilians and journalists in particular, scenes of Israeli police attacking mourners and those carrying the coffin at Shireen's funeral are irrefutable evidence of the brutality of their self-proclaimed “only democracy in the region”.
9. The "deepest and sharpest" image of the universe
In August 2022, the first full-color images and the first spectroscopic data of NASA's James Webb Space Telescope, in collaboration with the European Space Agency (ESA) and the Canadian Space Agency (CSA), were released during a televised broadcast, ushering in a new era in astronomy.
One of the first images from the James Webb Space Telescope, showing galaxy cluster SMACS 0723, is one of the world’s most important images of 2022 because it is the deepest and sharpest infrared image of the distant universe to date.
This image of the galactic cluster SMACS 0723 has been named Webb’s First Deep Field, and is overflowing with detail, with thousands of galaxies having appeared in Webb’s view for the first time. According to NASA, "This slice of the vast universe covers a patch of sky approximately the size of a grain of sand held at arm’s length by someone on the ground."
10- "Mayyas" lights up Lebanon's dark night
In an unprecedented achievement, the Lebanese dance group Mayyas won the top spot in the world's most famous talent show, “America’s Got Talent” for 2022.
Amid the multifaceted crisis the country is facing, along with rampant corruption, and popular anger at the ruling oligarchy, this achievement was seen as a bright glimmer in Lebanon's long, dark night and a ray of hope for its citizens, stating that success is not impossible.