Road to Damascus

PhotographerHashem Rifai
PrizeHonorable Mention
Entry Description

The rare view of this vantage point on Mount Kassouin in Damascus, Syria shows a young man overlooking the oldest inhabited city in the world. The vastness of the landscape is depicted and the cluttered organization is testament to its deep-rooted history. What looks so serene to an onlooker perched on top of the mountain is deceiving by what he or she will encounter below. The very emotions brought about by this photograph.


In 2008 it was unimaginable that massacres would take place in Syria. When this picture was taken, the air was crisp and clean, the sun set on the Mediterranean landscape; people’s lives were going according to planned. I sat with my uncle discussing the true nature of what it feels like to live in Damascus. Damascus is a dirty, overcrowded city with a deep-rooted Biblical history. Nothing seemed to stand out in Syria’s beautiful, but with this photograph I learned that the land of my ancestors was truly beautiful. Today, Syria is war torn. What looked like a calm, collected country now is run by fear. People are afraid to leave their homes. Peace is no longer a word in their vocabulary. Photographs of Syria are scarce. Photographers are not allowed in to show what Syria is, was, and will be. People with cameras vanish into thin air, never to be heard of again. Photographs like this are rare to come by; photographs that capture the emotional heartfelt beauty of Syria. This image may never look the same. It only seems right to show the international community what this being destroyed. It’s time for people to see. I fear that upon my return to Damascus, the image that this picture depicts will cease to exist. The fait of Syria is with its people and all who support it.