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Palestine: Unlimited

Photography from 10 finalists in the first annual Karimeh Abboud Award Competition at Dar al-Kalima University, College of Arts & Culture in Bethlehem, Palestine.

Presented by Bright Stars of Bethlehem, USA 501(c)3.


Kerimeh Abboud


Photographs record history. Photographs document social change and preserve memories. Photographs verify one’s identity. Before 1920 Palestine women’s passports had no photographs, nor were there any female photographers. Born into Lutheran pastor’s family in Bethlehem in 1894, Karimeh Abboud rapidly rose to prominence in a traditionally male-dominated profession after receiving her first camera as a teenager. Her photos are important historical records of life in Palestine in the early 1900s.

Karimeh Abboud, who shattered stereotypes was the first Palestinian photographer of her gender. She had studios in Bethlehem, Nazareth, Haifa, and Jerusalem. As the world has forgotten the mass expulsion of Arabs from Palestine in 1948 - rightly named Nakbah (The Catastrophe) - and is turning its face from the subsequent occupation of Palestine by the State of Israel, beginning in 1967, continuing until this day, the people of Palestine retain their dignity and humanity as clearly illuminated in the prize-winning photographs by Bethlehem media students from Dar al-Kalima University College of Arts and Culture. Curated from a juried contest of compelling entries from Bethlehem photographers and students, this compilation of works will comprise a photographic exhibit, “Palestine Unlimited” touring the San Francisco Bay Area, Milwaukee, and more.


Mohammed al-Kurd

b. 1992, Jabalia

Mohammed is entirely Gazan: the Jabalia refugee camp shaped the person he is today. He studied in the refugee camp's schools and in 2014 received a Bachelor's Degree in English Literature from Al Azhar University in Cairo, Egypt. As a child, he loved photography and was inspired by it. He found contentment observing the world around him from a distance until he became aware of the brutal reality around him. A passion for photography created a paradox within him unleashing an overwhelming urge to contribute to this world through art.


Some Day - When the Palestinian refugees of 1948 and 1967 left their homes, they took their keys with them, expecting to return after the war. These same keys hold memories of lost homes and are lasting symbols of the "right of return".

Prayer of the Returnees - This is a conceptual work of the dreams of Palestinians to return to the Holy Land.

Liberty we Breathe - This photo is from a debut collection of the same name.


Mohammad Shaloudi

b. 1994, Jerusalem

Mohammad Shaloudi graduated from Dar al Aytam High School in the Old City of Jerusalem in 2012 and earned a certificate in Advanced Photography from Afaq College in Jerusalem where he completed 200 hours of theoretical and applied photography studies. He is pursuing a diploma in Cinema and Television Skills at Dar al-Kalima University of Arts and Culture in Bethlehem, Palestine. Mohammad has worked on short and feature length documentaries as well as feature films. Among these are Ahraquo Al Radi'ea (They Burnt the Infant), the feature film 'Ala Qayd Al Hayat (Alive) in 2016 and a seven - episode series about Palestinian prisoners. His current project is documenting human stories from Jerusalem's Old City, for Al Jazeera Net.


Selling in the Souk - Among the crowds, a man seeks his means of support.

Searching for Livelihood - The unforgiving travails of an older man to support himself and his family.

Our Mother is Palestinian - To provide for her family, a woman sits in the road to attract buyers and sell her vegetables.

Luay Sababa

b. 1983, Bethlehem

Luay studied mass media at the Bible College in Bethlehem. He works as a photography journalist in Palestine with a number of local and international news and press agencies.


Checkpoint 300 - This is the main checkpoint to enter or exit Bethlehem. Palestinian workers who have managed to obtain authorization to work in Israel (calling it "the ticket to life") are allowed to use only this checkpoint to travel to the other side, with one lane only opened for the more than 2,000 workers crossing every day seeking work. When they arrive in darkness in the early hours of the morning, the wait is usually an exhausting and agonizing five hours. The young men hanging onto the railings are workers who have the strength to maneuver further to the front of the line. This photo exposes the punishing journey thousands must make to reach jobs that help them survive the economic distress in areas controlled by the Israeli occupation.


May Hirbawi

b. 1996, Jisr Al Zarqa

May volunteers at the Baladna Association for Arab Youth in Haifa, a non-profit with goals to strengthen democratic values in Palestinian Arab society, deepening Palestinian youth's connection to national identity and collective memory while fostering male and female civic leadership. Additionally, she studies Art/Photography, using photography to express social and political issues from her own personal perspective.

2nd prize, First Annual Karimeh Abboud Award Competition, 2016


Demolition Order - A Bedouin reads a demolition order: his home will soon be confiscated and demolished.

Inside a Refugee Camp - This photograph depicts the intensity of crowdedness and the suffering of Palestinians in refugee camps attacked by tear gas during the Israeli military incursions.

Saleh Zghari

b. 1995, Jerusalem

Saleh studies at Dar al-Kalima University College of Arts and Culture and works as a cameraman with al-Jazeera.


Waiting - A child waits for his father to finish prayers so they may return to their warm home.

Livelihood - An old woman sits on the steps of the Old City of Jerusalem selling the produce of her land.

Wandering in al-Aqsa - A constant scene whenever one enters the Mosque (The Dome of the Rock).

Waseem Ali

b. 1995, Jerusalem

Having completed a course in digital photography at the Youth Center in Jerusalem, Waseem is currently studying at Dar al-Kalima University College of Arts and Culture in Bethlehem, Palestine.

3rd Prize, First Annual Karimeh Abboud Award Competition, 2016


Broken Childhood - A Palestinian youth surveys his broken bicycle and laments his loneliness.

Alone in the Darkness - Palestinian teenagers lose their friends while freedom is taken from them.

Palestinian Mother's Grief - A Palestinian mother suffers the arrest or killing of her children by Israeli soldiers.

Majd Sanuri

b. 1989, Jenin

Interested in photography since she was fifteen years old, Majd still treasures the family photographs and short videos that were shot with her first little SONY camera. While working for the Red Crescent Society, she saved three months' salary to buy a professional Canon camera. Majd learned the art of photography via the internet and later through the Freedom Theater in Jenin, where her skills as a photographer were honed. She won second prize with her photograph, The Clothes Line, in a contest sponsored by UNICEF. Shortly thereafter she was disqualified since she did not have a refugee card. Photography has given her a means to create and express herself as she aspires to take photographs that are unlike any others, that demonstrate her unique perspective and voice.


Refugee Camp Reality

Refugee Camp Reality - A young woman from a refugee camp who is an aspiring model grapples with the difficult context of camp reality.

Dreams are Far From Reality - The head is far from the feet.

Reem Awad

b. 1985, Jerusalem

Reem graduated from Al-Quds University with a degree in dentistry, but abstract painting is her gift and passion, experimenting with different forms of art to express her ideas.


Lipstick Pen - Inspired by Salvador Dali (who used to say: "I am Surrealism"), the artist transforms images of her face as a silent expression of surrealism by painting it with lipstick, eye shadows and eyeliners.


Nihaya al-Haj Mahmoud

b. 1992, Beit Jala

Born in Jordan to a Palestinian father and a Lebanese mother, Nihaya Al-Haj graduated from the Latin Patriarchate School in Beit Jala. She studied graphic design in Bethlehem and then enrolled at Dar Al-Kalima University College of Arts and Culture to pursue her passion for the arts. Finding her own style of artistic expression, working on projects, painting, photography, videography and editing, underscore her belief that art can change the world.

1st Prize, First Annual Karimeh Abboud Award Competition, 2016


Diamond Shadows - The luxury of life embodied by capitalism and money has turned into a burden so heavy that it interferes with our daily dreams.

Invisible Eyes - Children's games are tied into war until we realize that war is real. Creating the war environment inside a home is a part of this game.

Earlier Event: February 19
Tuesday Night Jazz Jam