Reem Al Faisal


The pilgrimage (Hajj) is an event that takes place every year at the end of the Muslim year (Higra) and is four days long. It is one of the Five pillars of Islam and it is only an obligation to Muslims who have the financial health and physical ability to do it. It is an Abrahamic tradition and it has been performed in Mecca for thousands of years. In the modem day it is done by approximately three million Muslims from all corners of the earth both men and women. About 200 languages are spoken in the Hajj and the pilgrims come from all social levels of society.

The main point of the Hajj is to detach from the material bonds of life and to ask forgiveness for our sins and to try and commit to living a better live free of selfishness and egotistical desires. It is believed that if one performs the Hajj with pure intention that one is reborn after with all past sins forgiven.




Reem Al Faisal is a Native of Jeddah, Saudi Arabia and currently has homes in both Jeddah and Paris.
She graduated from Manarat High School in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia,  studied Arabic Literature in King Abdul Aziz University in Jeddah, SA, and finally left to pursue a photographic career in Paris, France. She is now an active photographer and journalist.

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Reem Al Faisal

11 thoughts on “Reem Al Faisal – Hajj”

  1. While this no doubt conveys visual information about both the event itself, and the scale of the event, I do not find in repeated viewings a single image that rises above ordinary. I find it hard to believe that in its journey through a sea of critical eyes on the way to being published, that I am the only person voicing that fact. Is the story so important that the Images are secondary? (on a photo blog?)
    Is it tied up in the traditions of the religious event being portrayed? Or that of the photographer?
    Is it a unique photographic document? (a very quick Google shows that not to be so)

    I do understand that this is a very important event for many millions of people worldwide.
    And also that there are certain restrictions concerning the making/use/viewing of imagery which could be viewed for its own sake. But I am still baffled what I am meant to ‘get’ from this essay.



  2. I think this would benefit from editing down a lot but that said some really strong pictures here.


    i just cut the essay way back…there were too many pictures….i think the near impossibility of shooting pictures at all at the Hajj, especially by a Muslim woman, made us take a look at this essay….

  4. What are the restrictions on photography there?
    I would think that many attendees don’t want to have their photos taken.
    An amazing assemblage of humanity nonetheless.

  5. The essay looks a lot better for the edit and the issue of taking photos at Hajj shouldn’t be underestimated. Islam, like other religions, tells it’s followers not to make false idols. Some take this to include any representation of anything created – animal or human – including photographs. Of course many do not take such an extreme view and are quite relaxed about photography. I like the essay but I would have liked to see captions too to explain the significance of what is being portrayed. Congratulations Reem on being published here.



    hi Mike….basically you cannot shoot the way we like shoot in Saudia Arabia…almost everything regarding shooting people is off limits…it is odd…it is not about the Saudis themselves who seem to love being photographed …at least when they are not in Saudia Arabia…they are a very warm and open people, yet it remains a very conservative culture inside the country…if you do go to Saudia Arabia (which actually you can recently now do as a tourist), best to stick to the scenery, which is indeed spectacular.

    i am at home…come on up…love to see Denise and you…..

    cheers, david

  7. Had this appeared in the old Life Magazine, I believe it would done so to significant praise and kudos for the rarity of such a work being done by a Muslim woman. Given the difficulties of shooting the Hajj and the fact this was done by a Muslin woman I find it quite special. The images are all strong and good, even if they do not explore all the aspects of Hajj many would like to see. Keep it up, Reem. Maybe you will one day show us a Saudi Arabia none of us have yet seen.

  8. The enormity and scale of this pilgrimage is clear. The soul of the Hajj must be difficult to convey for many reasons. David I’m so pleased that you have given Reem a platform, but I hope she will take the input received here to expand her experience.

    It’s nothing short of amazing that you have found these visual voices around the world that add so much to our understanding.

    Paul O

  9. Congratulations Reem. Fascinating photographs, the best I’ve ever seen of this event.

    I think there are still too many photos here. #1, 2, 6, 7. What a great start.

  10. There’s one thing I regret about the way I worded my statement above. It might imply to some that I would not think the work as good and remarkable if it had not been shot by a Muslim woman. No. I did not mean this. I would consider it equally good. Given the restrictions we continually hear about, I do think it remarkable that it was shot by a Muslim woman, but what makes the photographs is the eye, heart and passion of Reem Al Faisal.

  11. Well, I think it’s great. The photography does the subject no disservice in my opinion. It’s lovely and timeless and, I think, transparent. So what if the old documentary style is old? For me it resonates! Frostfrog, I agree with your comments re: Life. There are some very strong pictures here, and I would omit only #11 — just to cut down on the repetition of the crowd and the location.

    Would have loved to have seen more pictures from the ground. I wonder for this kind of reportage — how closely you could work with with just a white iPhone or GF1 from under a white gown.

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