World Press Photo 2011, presents his photographs as the starting point for a conversation with bloggers and experts on the situation #afterthespring

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“The way Yemen is shown in the media is more about terrorists and Al-Qaeda, but there are really good and light parts of it”

gigi-ibrahim

Amira, a student at a school in Sana’a, the capital of Yemen, plays table football. Sana’a, 9 March 2012. Photography by Samuel Aranda.

I like seeing a Yemeni girl playing table football; I think it will be interesting for your people to see a girl wearing a veil who is playing, as the media manipulates views of my culture. The way Yemen is shown in the media is more about terrorists and Al-Qaeda, but there are really good and light parts of it. Yemeni women still hold on to their traditions and customs, the beautiful black veil does not prevent them from realizing their dreams of education and enjoying themselves and laughing.

Yemeni girls have a fighting spirit to follow their dreams no matter what they wear, because freedom, ambitions and dreams are feelings and cannot be stopped by what you are wearing.

The veiled little girl wanted to express herself and show people around the world that veiled women really exist and feel the same way unveiled women do. Or it may be more than that—women and men used to fall in love just by their eyes, also we used to talk with just our eyes and smile with our eyes, too. I still believe that communicating with your eyes is stronger than communicating with your whole face, because sometimes you get distracted by something in the face. For me, eyes are more honest and straightforward. Whenever I meet new people, the first thing I do is look into their eyes, I feel honest. When I meet people who wear sunglasses I really wish they would take them off so I can see their eyes, ^_^.

What I really like about the photo is that it creates more understanding about Yemen and its people—Yemeni women have a fighting spirit.

Yemen is a very conservative society, and taking photos of women is not allowed. This is more about how it feels to be a Yemeni woman expressing herself in a conservative society and meeting many challenges: early marriage, rural women who have to work inside and outside the home, taking care of their families, husbands and kids, but still searching for hope and light. It reflects the traditional key role women play in Yemeni society and portrays the beauty of femininity in their lives.”

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Amira Al-Sharif >

Yemeni photojournalist
Amira Al-Sharif is one of the few women photojournalists in Yemen. Since 2005, she has worked for Yemen Observer, Spectrum newspaper and Yemen Times, denouncing poverty and living conditions in the south of the country. She is now resident in New York, where she is studying photojournalism at the International Center of Photography.