Doors of Al Ain - Tales Retold Through the Lens of Alex Jeffries

By Stefanie Peterson

Published: Wednesday, February 01, 2012    

Every door tells a story, a tale of the times, the people and their heritage. Look around Al Ain and you will see a rich history in the city's doorways, many of which still remain untouched by new urban styles.

At some point, the city will undoubtedly undergo change, through building codes and standards similar to recent laws passed in Abu Dhabi, and this will surely move the city on from the simpler times of the oasis. Fortunately, one photographer and graphic designer, Alex Jeffries, was inspired to document the city, both as it was and now is, in his new book, Doors of Al Ain.

"As I visited Al Ain more and more often, I grew to love the landscape and housing styles," he explains. "There are still lots of beautiful low-rise houses, and it hasn't been touched by the same level of development as [some of] the other emirates. I realized that there are beautiful doors everywhere; they haven't all been replaced by new designs as they have in other cities. Doors are a beautiful part of Al Ain and it was important for me to chronicle them."

Alex's concept has been received well locally, as well as internationally. "The images became so popular amongst friends and clients that it became a book. I had great feedback, with many of the images being requested as art canvases and prints. I've had orders from as far afield as the United States and Australia. The book also makes a great gift for those living in the UAE, or those who have left the region and want a memento of what makes it so special," Alex says.

Alex is no rookie when it comes to publishing. His first book, Dubai in Transition, came out in 2010. "It began as personal photographic documentation on a side of Dubai that some people never see: real people, heritage and day-to-day life. It's a celebration of 'real' moments, not just the five-star hotels and buildings you see in the normal photography books."

It would seem that the UAE is a fruitful source for his work. "As a professional photographer, I'm constantly inspired by the environment of the region, and I'm rapidly building a huge catalogue of images from the UAE. There are endless possibilities when it comes to producing more books. I do have a responsibility and commitment to my day-to-day clients, so it's really a case of finding the time to develop and publish another book, rather than struggling with the subject matter."

Alex is planning an exhibition of some of the photographs from the book. While awaiting confirmation about event dates and space availability, he is looking forward to promoting Doors of Al Ain throughout the UAE.

"Ultimately, I would love for this book to be a vehicle to promote the beauty of Al Ain and the UAE to a wider regional and international audience, perhaps by partnering with tourism organizations. Currently, I'm planning a super launch event where images from the book can be displayed in a dynamic fashion and to their full potential. So many of them look wonderful in a large format."

Through his photographs, Alex tells the tales whispered through the aging Al Ain architecture that is on the verge of extinction. Doors of Al Ain is a beautiful time capsule of the oasis city and the UAE legacy. If you're interested in buying or sponsoring the book, contact
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