Maha Alasaker moved to New York City from Kuwait in 2015. After fielding numerous stereotypical questions about her country, Alasaker created a series of photographs that aim to challenge one-dimensional views of Arab women as uneducated and bound to their homes and husbands.
Women in Kuwait (Daylight, May 2019) brings together 25 portraits from the series accompanied by excerpts from interviews with the subjects conducted by Alasaker’s creative partner, Nada Faris. The women featured in the book highlight the diversity of Kuwaiti women’s professional ambitions. They include a chef, a journalist, an orthodontist, a senior executive, a financial researcher, an economist, a stylist and a veterinarian. The images, made in the women’s bedrooms where they’re surrounded by personal belongings, stand in sharp contrast to the more traditional portrait of Kuwaiti women hosting guests in their homes, or outside wearing formal attire and heavy make-up.
In her essay, Faris writes that in Kuwaiti culture bedrooms “serve as sanctuaries for boys and girls who continue to grow in Kuwaiti families where collective needs outweigh the individuals … Presently, bedrooms in Kuwait provide a unique space for individuals to discover themselves.”
“The spirit of the project,” states Daylight in the press release, “is to reveal the will of these bold and beautiful women to open themselves up to the world by telling their story in words and pictures.” The resulting photographs offer an unprecedented glimpse into these women’s private, more authentic lives.