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LAU participants take top prizes at UN photo competition

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LAU alumna Abir Ghattas won the grand prize of a recent UN photo competition on the MDGs for this hauntingly beautiful picture of a young girl, named Nada, picking peas in the northern district of Hermel.

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"Tree of Life." Sahar Khatib, LAU 2009 graduate, won the award for the seventh MDG category ("Ensure Environmental Sustainability") for this photo of a desolate scene in an area west of the Bekaa.

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LAU graphic design student Nadine Khoury received the prize for the third MDG category, to "Promote Gender Equality and Empower Women," for her depiction of a victim of domestic violence. She calls it "Home Scary Home."

November 8, 2010—

Two LAU graduates and one student with a passion for photography were among the 10 prizewinners at a recent UN photo competition organized to highlight Lebanon’s work toward achieving the Millennium Development Goals.

The competition, titled “A Snapshot for Development,” challenged young photographers across the country to capture in a single photo one of the eight MDGs — eradicating extreme poverty and hunger; achieving universal primary education; promoting gender equality and empowering women; reducing child mortality; improving maternal health; combating HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases; ensuring environmental sustainability; and creating a global partnership for development.

During a ceremony held at UNESCO palace in Beirut on October 22, awards were given to the photos that best represented each MDG, in addition to a grand prize and a People’s Choice Award.

LAU alumna Abir Ghattas received the top honor for her photo of a young girl, Nada, picking peas in the northern district of Hermel. Ghattas entered the photo, called “The Girl with the Green Eyes,” under the MDG 1 category, to “Eradicate Extreme Poverty and Hunger.”

“The focus [of the photo] should be on the fact that as a child Nada is not living how she is supposed to live,” says 23-year-old Ghattas, who graduated in 2008 with a B.S. in Computer Science.

Bassam Lahoud, who has been teaching photography at LAU for 23 years, helped coordinate the competition for Lebanese youth aged 15-24 on behalf of the United Nations Development Programme-Lebanon. He promoted the event through the internet and in universities, and asked some of his LAU students to participate.

From September 1-October 15, 203 young photographers from around the country entered the competition by submitting their pictures on the UN Photo Competition website, and more than 6,000 people cast their votes for the People’s Choice Award, according to the UNDP-Lebanon website.

Lahoud also served as the competition’s lead jury member on the five-member judges’ panel, which had specific criteria when choosing the winners.

“First, you have to look at the photographic technique and creativity. Secondly, it should show the idea, the [Millennium Development] Goal itself,” says Lahoud.

When asked what stood out in Ghattas’s winning photo, Lahoud said: “The eyes, the look — it’s a National Geographic picture; it’s high-standard photography. At all levels it was a very nice picture.”

Sahar Khatib, another LAU alumna, took home the top prize in the seventh MDG category, to “Ensure Environmental Sustainability,” for her photo titled “Tree of Life.”

“I took this photo in Amiq, west of the Bekaa, trying to catch the sunrise, but it was misty all day, and humid. I stumbled onto the dry lake area to find this scene of dead fish, birds and trees,” Khatib says.

Khatib, 23, graduated in 2009 with a B.S. in Graphic Design and took photography classes at LAU.

“This is the first competition I’ve entered and I am amazed at winning one of the prizes,” she says.

LAU graphic design student Nadine Khoury kept the university’s winning streak going, walking away with the award for the best photo under the MDG 3 category, to “Promote Gender Equality and Empower Women.”

In her photo titled “Home Scary Home,” Khoury depicted a woman who is a victim of domestic abuse.

“I took the picture with a manual camera and developed it here in the university’s darkroom,” Khoury says.

The award ceremony came on the heels of September’s UN Summit on the Millennium Development Goals in New York, which brought together world leaders to boost progress against poverty and commit to a concrete action agenda to achieve the MDGs by 2015.

Ghattas won a NIKON DIGITAL SLR D300S camera, while Khatib and Khoury each received a NIKON COOLPIX P100 camera. All 10 prizewinners are invited to a workshop at Lahoud’s place in Amchit the weekend of November 13-14.


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