The Arab Documentary Photography Program

The Arab Fund for Art and Culture and the Prince Claus Fund in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, in partnership with the Magnum Foundation in New York, USA, launched the Arab Documentary Photography Program (ADPP) in 2014. The ADPP is a program jointly funded by AFAC and PCF (in the framework of the Fund's Mentorship Awards), targeting creative documentary photographers in the Arab region. A jurors’ committee comprised of Arab and international experts will select up to 12 grantees to receive financial and professional support to complete their proposed photography projects.

Visit the program's website:


Documentary photography sheds light on important neglected and unknown narratives. However, in the Arab world it remains an under-developed genre. With most current visual production going to journalistic mass-media outlets, there is little opportunity for documentary photographers to explore creative, personal, long-term, and analytical approaches to their work.  Additionally, there is little access to the needed resources and adequate professional support to initiate and complete compelling documentary photography projects.

The focus of the Arab Documentary Photography Program is to support compelling non-stereotypical and unconventional visual documentation of important social issues and narratives relevant to the Arab region. In recognition to the image’s power to document, educate and advocate, the ADPP will also explore ways by which documentary photography can reach out to wider audiences and engage with them in a compelling and impactful ways. Photographers may propose to work in a range of non-fiction narrative styles, from classic documentary photography to more experimental visual storytelling, and may propose to include audio and video elements.


  • To raise the level of creative documentary photography in the Arab region;
  • To train photographers and expand their approaches to visual storytelling;
  • To share strong visual narratives from the Arab region regionally and internationally;
  • To explore wider access to documentary photography and a more active engagement with its audiences

About the Grant

AFAC’s Arab Documentary Photography Program (ADPP) provides up to 12 production grants per cycle of 5,000 USD each. Grantees are expected to work on their projects in their country of residence over a period of 8 months. The grant may be used to begin a new project or to complete work on an existing project.

In addition, ADPP grantees will benefit from mentorship provided by top caliber program mentors and will be required to attend two specialized workshops to help them develop and produce their projects and consider avenues for distribution. Grantees travel and accommodation expenses during the workshops are not included in the production grant but will be covered separately by the program. The production grant does not include printing and distribution costs.

In the event that the grantee does not sign the grant contract within 30 days upon receipt thereof, the grant will be canceled. Projects must be completed within 8 months of signing the contract, during which grantees are expected so submit the necessary financial and narrative reports.

Recipients of this grant must commit to attending the two workshops. Failure to do so might result in the cancellation of the grant. The first workshop will be in September 2021 and the second workshop in April 2022.

Eligible Candidates

This grant is open to Arab applicants mainly those living and working in the Arab region, irrespective of age, years of experience, ethnicity, gender or religion. Exceptions are made for Arab applicants who had to flee their home countries during the past nine years (since 2012) due to political unrest. Their projects must however be related to the region.

Professional and emerging photographers are eligible to apply. Photographers who have not specialized in documentary photography will be considered as long as the proposed work is documentary in nature.

Technical familiarity with photography is required. Journalists or activists who have not had experience with photography are not eligible to apply.

Applicants must be comfortable using English for all communication and in person discussions. The workshops and communication will be conducted in English. Translation can be provided during the workshops.

Applicants must be independent, i.e. not currently working under any “work for hire” agreements, and should have full copyright ownership of the work they produce.

Ineligible Candidates

AFAC will not consider applications submitted by:

  • Members of the Board of Trustees, their business partners or family members.
  • AFAC staff members, their business partners or family members.
  • Members of the current year’s jurors committees.
  • Applicants(s) who live, partially or fully, outside the Arab region. Arab photographers who have been forced to leave their countries during the last nine years (since 2012) for political reasons are exempt from the residency requirement in the Arab region.
  • Recipients of two consecutive grants unless two years had passed since the last grant (e.g. If a grantee had received two grants in 2017 and 2018, s/he can apply again in 2021).
  • Applicants with a current open grant.
  • Each applicant is entitled to only one application in the same category.
  • If an applicant has an application that is in process, s/he cannot submit another application in any category until the result of the current application in process is announced.

Eligible Expenses

This USD 5.000 production grant shall be used to cover the artist fees, any needed production equipment cost, any research costs, travel and other expenses related to the production. Additionally, the grant covers per diem (when on location) and visa fees associated with attendance of the two workshops.  (Note: Travel and accommodation costs related to the workshops will be covered directly by ADPP).  Grant funds will be used solely for the undertaking of the described photography project and not for any other purpose.

Place and Duration

AFAC will not provide support retroactively, i.e. to projects already completed. For projects that have already started, AFAC will cover the expenses that will occur only after the signature of the contract if the project is selected.

The project’s time frame should not exceed 8 months.

How to Apply

Applications are only accepted through our online application forms available on our website. Applications submitted via regular mail or e-mail will not be accepted.

The application must be submitted in English.

The applicant will receive a confirmation email once the online application has been received. AFAC will not contact applicants if any part of their application is incomplete.

Incomplete applications will not be taken into consideration.

To apply, please login with your username and password. Once you login, visit the program page you are interested in applying to and click on apply. In case you don’t have an existing account, please create one here.

Please note that the deadline for applications is 1 April 2022 at 5:00 PM (Beirut time - GMT+3).

Please note that we will not be able to respond to any inquiries communicated with us after 31 March 2022.

Preview the Application

Mentorship Process

An implementation plan - including the project story and characters, risks and possible challenges, tentative timeline for the different phases of the project - should be prepared before the first workshop, and will be agreed on with the photographer. This implementation plan will be discussed and approved by the mentors during the first workshop.

Grantees will have regularly scheduled Skype meetings with their mentors throughout the grant period to discuss their projects. Mentors will evaluate progress according to the benchmarks grantees set in their implementation plans.

Supporting Material

All applications must include:

  • 10 - 20 images from the initial stages of the proposed project.
  • Images from any single body of work that demonstrates the applicant’s ability as a photographer and a visual storyteller.
  • Captions should be included in the metadata of each image file. A numbered caption sheet is requested in the supporting material zip file.
  • Images should be JPGs, 72 dpi, and longest edge 1,000 pixels.
    Additional media as supplement to the still photographs are accepted. Applicant needs to include the corresponding links in the supporting material zip file.
  • Applications lacking in supporting material will not be considered for evaluation nor will the applicant be contacted to send the missing material.
  • Supporting files/samples of current submitted project and/or previous work smaller than 10 MB can be uploaded directly to the application.
  • Supporting files/samples of current submitted project and/or previous work between 10 MB and 300 MB should be included as links to files on sharing websites (such as Dropbox, Vimeo, YouTube…).
  • For further inquiries regarding supporting material, contact AFAC grants management team.

Evaluation and Selection Process

Following the submission deadline, AFAC will conduct an administrative check to ensure that applications are complete and adhere to the guidelines. Only applications that pass the administrative check will be processed. An independent jurors’ committee will assess the preselected applications and choose the projects to be granted. Please see Evaluation Process for more details.

Grants Announcement

The grant winners will be announced and published on the AFAC website and Facebook page after the jury meetings conclude. An automatic email will be sent to applicants whose projects were not selected to receive grants.

Grant Contract

As soon as the grant winners are announced, AFAC will draft a grant contract to be signed by the grantees. The contract will include start and end dates, workshops’ dates, grant amount, financial requirements, payment schedule, general provisions, implementation and amendments, required reports and project results.

Grantees will be expected to work on their projects consistently over the course of the eight-month grant term and are expected to communicate with their mentors on a monthly basis via Skype or other available means. A commitment of the equivalent of 30 days for this project is required.

Grantees will be required to attend the first workshop. The partner organizations will evaluate the progress of each project and will reserve the right to withhold invitations to the second workshop if a grantee has not met expectations for objectives they’ve outlined in their implementation plan.

Payments Conditions & Schedule

The grantee will receive 60% of the grant amount as a first payment upon approval of the implementation plan. The second payment of 40% will be made at the beginning of the second workshop and after the mentors approves the progress made by the grantee allowing him/her to participate into the second workshop.


The grantees retain the copyright to their work, but grant AFAC and PCF a non-exclusive, royalty-free, irrevocable, perpetual, and worldwide license to the images created under the grant for Web and exhibition use as well as audio-visual and multi-media, in order to help attain the objectives of the PCF and AFAC as part of its communication, PR and fundraising efforts. The PCF and AFAC are allowed to make derivative works from the copyright materials in any and all forms. The termination of the ADPP grant will not affect or end the license granted.

About the Program's Advisors

Susan Meiselas – Program Advisor: An award-winning American documentary photographer born in 1948 in Baltimore, Maryland. She has been associated with Magnum Photos since 1976. She is best known for her human rights work in Latin America which was published globally in magazines including The New York Times, The Times, Time, GEO and Paris Match. She received the Robert Capa Gold Medal in 1979 and was named a MacArthur Fellow in 1992. She earned her BA at Sarah Lawrence College and an MA in visual education at Harvard University. In 2006, she was awarded The Royal Photographic Society's Centenary Medal and Honorary Fellowship (HonFRPS) in recognition of a sustained, significant contribution to the art of photography. Her work is in many international museum collections. Meiselas’ retrospective In History was produced by the International Center of Photography in 2008, and included three seminal works: Carnival Strippers, Nicaragua and Kurdistan In the Shadow of History. Meiselas is presently Acting Executive Director and President of the Magnum Foundation.

Randa Shaath – Mentor: Born to a Palestinian father and an Egyptian mother, lived in Beirut from 1969 until 1977 and currently resides in Cairo. She received a BA in Middle Eastern Studies from the American University in Cairo, and a MA in Visual Mass Communication from the University of Minnesota. She worked as a photographer for Agence France Press in Egypt and Gaza in 1994, and for the Al-Ahram Weekly newspaper since 1993. She worked on various projects in Palestine, Nubian villages, and Cairo. In the Cairo project she captured daily life in the city, on the streets and the rooftops, and on its forgotten islands. Recent exhibitions include The state of Palestine, Sony Gallery, American University in Cairo, 1998; In the Heart of the Nile (Islands of Cairo), Atelier Le Caire, Cairo, 1999; Nubian Life, The Nubian Museum, Aswan, Egypt, 2000; and Being There, in Home Works: A Forum on Cultural Practices in the Region, Beirut, Lebanon, 2002.

Eric Gottesman – Mentor: A photographic artist and organizer. Central to his practice is collaboration. He uses photography, writing and film as vehicles to engage others in conversation and critical thought about the social structures that surround them, and him. He works slowly, often spending a long time in a community, and exhibits work locally first, to an audience determined by the co-creators of the work. He has taught at the Massachusetts College of Art and Design, Amherst College, the International Center for Photography, the Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston and in collaborative workshops in Lebanon, Jordan and Ethiopia.

Tanya Habjouqa – Mentor: Based in East Jerusalem, born in Jordan and educated in Texas, receiving her masters in Global Media and Middle East Politics from the University of London SOAS. She is known for gaining unique access to sensitive gender, social and human rights stories in the Middle East.  Recently, she won the 2014 World Press Award for Daily Life Stories, was a finalist for the 2014 FotoEvidence Book Award, and was a recipient of the Magnum Foundation 2013 Emergency Fund. She is a founding member of Rawiya photo collective, the first all-female photo collective of the Middle East. Her work has been widely exhibited and her series, Women of Gaza, was acquired by the Boston Museum of Fine Art in 2013. She is represented by East Wing, an international platform for photography, founded in Doha, Qatar.

Peter van Agtmael – Mentor: Born in Washington DC. He studied history at Yale, graduating with honors in 2003. Since 2006 he has primarily covered the 9/11 Wars and their consequences, working extensively in Iraq, Afghanistan and the USA.  He has won the W. Eugene Smith Grant, the ICP Infinity Award for Young Photographer, the Lumix Freelens Award, as well as awards from World Press Photo, American Photography Annual, The Pulitzer Center, The Center for Documentary Studies at Duke University and Photo District News. In 2008 he helped organize the book and exhibition, a retrospective of largely unseen work of 22 photographers covering Iraq and Afghanistan. Peter joined Magnum in 2008 and became a full member in 2013.

Jessica Murray – Workshop Coordinator: Jessica has been working in the field of documentary photography since 1997, when she held a position with Magnum Photos in New York.  In 2002 she founded The Williamsburg Workshops and in 2004 she founded Al-liquindoi in Spain, which she continues to direct today.  As part of Al-liquindoi, Jessica has worked as an independent consultant for the Documentary Photography Project of Open Society Foundations on their workshop and grant programs for photographers in the MENA region, Central Asia and the Caucasus, and also for FotoPres “La Caixa” in Spain, providing the layout for their current program.  In 2012 she designed and produced the 8-month Visual Storytelling program in Egypt with the Contemporary Image Collective and Noor Foundation. Over the years Jessica has sat on a number of nominating committees and juries for awards and grants in photography and in 2015 she was invited to be the artistic director of the Barcelona documentary photography festival DOCfield>15.

Al-liquindoi: Al-liquindoi was founded by Jessica Murray and Gonzalo Höhr in Spain in 2004. Over the past decade Al-liquindoi has helped train documentary photographers and photojournalists internationally, explored the use of multimedia storytelling, and helped to develop independent voices in the media. In 2014, Al-liquindoi created Cró, an on-line multidisciplinary archive of documentary stories and analysis about the deepening economic, political and social crisis in Spain. 

Partnering Institutions

The Prince Claus Fund - PCF
The Prince Claus Fund supports artists, critical thinkers and cultural organizations in spaces where freedom of cultural expression is restricted by conflict, poverty, repression, marginalization or taboos. Based on the principle that culture is a basic need, the mission of the Fund is to actively seek cultural collaborations and foster groundbreaking networks, based on equality and trust. The Fund works with partners of excellence, in spaces where resources and opportunities for cultural expression, creative production and research are limited and cultural heritage is threatened. These regions include Africa, Latin America, the Caribbean, Asia and (non-EU) Eastern Europe.

The Magnum Foundation - MF
Magnum Foundation’s mission is to sustain the practice of in-depth, independent documentary photography as a critical tool that serves society by fostering empathy, engagement, and positive social change. MF seeks to develop new strategies for increased exposure and impact of documentary photographers in an ever-changing media landscape. The photographers of Magnum Photos founded the independent, non-profit Magnum Foundation in 2007 to carry forward Magnum’s high standards for long-form documentary storytelling in the 21st century.

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