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Award-winning photographer Jessica Fulford-Dobson exhibits her work of art at the Ismaili Centre Dubai

Dubai - The Ismaili Centre Dubai together with Art Week, a collaboration now in its fifth year, The Aga Khan Museum in Toronto, Roshan (the largest telecom operator in Afghanistan) and the Consulate General of Canada in Dubai, hosted an event in celebration of the opening of a photographic exhibition by the award-winning British photographer Jessica Fulford-Dobson entitled “Skate Girls of Kabul”. 

Jessica Fulford-Dobson travelled to Afghanistan in the summers of 2013 and 2014 to document young girls participating in Skateistan. Her engaging photographs taken over a total of six weeks deftly explore cultural, religious, and gender stereotypes. This series of striking portraits tells the extraordinary story of Afghan girls who took up skateboarding, thanks to Skateistan, an international NGO founded in 2009 in Kabul, Afghanistan that provides skate parks as a means of enabling girls from disadvantaged families to return to the educational system.

This year’s panelists, Henry Kim, CEO of the Aga Khan Museum; Karim Khoja, CEO of Roshan and Jessica Fulford-Dobson, engaged in an insightful first hand account of on the ground realities relating to education in Afghanistan. They explored the impact of projects such as Skatistan and the pioneering role of companies such as Roshan which encourage and enable the participation and contribution of young women to civil society. The discussion highlighted the crucial role of education in society - an area in which institutions of His Highness the Aga Khan have been deeply engaged. The foundations of which initiatives were layed by Sir Sultan Mahomed Shah Aga Khan III who established the first school for girls in the 1800s

The images are collected in a book entitled “Skate Girls of Kabul “which will be launched at Madinat Jumeirah on Friday.

The exhibition will run at the Ismaili Centre from the 22 - 25 March and presents an uncomplicated and unabashed celebration of childhood and girl power. The exhibition is part of Art Week 2018, an initiative of Art Dubai and supported by Dubai Culture & Arts Authority.

The Ismaili Centre, Dubai is one of six Ismaili Centres, located in Vancouver, London, Lisbon, Dushanbe, and Toronto. The Ismaili Centre, Dubai facilitates the promotion of cultural, educational, and social programs from the broadest, non-denominational perspectives. Now celebrating its tenth anniversary, the Centre has hosted numerous arts, cultural, social, and educational activities in collaboration with various diplomatic missions, government and civil society organizations. A central purpose of the Ismaili Centre is to encourage mutual exchanges and understanding between diverse peoples, communities, and institutions. The Centre facilitates a broadening of intellectual horizons and fosters an appreciation of pluralism. In 2010 The Ismaili Centre Dubai was awarded the prestigious 2010 Patron of the Arts Award by HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum in recognition of its contribution to Dubai’s cultural landscape.

Jessica Fulford-Dobson is a freelance, London-based portrait photographer who began her career in the year 2000. Her photographs have since been published in newspapers and magazines worldwide, including the Telegraph Magazine and British Vogue, as well as being exhibited in New York, London, and Prague. In November 2014, out of over 4,000 submissions, Jessica’s portrait of “Skate Girl” won second prize at The National Portrait Gallery’s Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize Award, where it was exhibited for the first time. In April 2015, Jessica had her first solo exhibition at the Saatchi Gallery, London.

Skateistan is an award-winning international non-profit organization empowering youth and children through skateboarding and education in Afghanistan, Cambodia, and South Africa. Through their innovative programs, Outreach, Skate and Create, Back-to-School, and Youth Leadership, Skateistan aims to give youth the opportunity to become leaders for a better world.