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In March 2019 Abu Dhabi hosted Summer Games of Special Olympics. Special Olympics is a worldwide organisation which organises sport competitions for people with learning disabilities. Summer World Games take place every 4 years. 7500 athletes from nearly 200 countries competed in 28 Olympic Sport disciplines in Abu Dhabi Games in 2019, making it the biggest sporting and humanitarian event of this year. Great Britain sent its biggest delegation of athletes ever to compete in the World Games. The Special Olympics Great Britain team came home with 169 medals.

 

Ebrahim Eftekhar, Great Britain Special Olympics Ten Pin Bowling athlete from Dundee, Scotland – Tayside region, Special Olympics games in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates on March 21, 2019.

Ebrahim Eftekhar, Great Britain Special Olympics Ten Pin Bowling athlete from Dundee, Scotland – Tayside region, Special Olympics games in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates on March 21, 2019.

 

Michael Stevenson, Great Britain Special Olympics Ten Pin Bowling athlete from Edinburgh, Scotland – Lothian region, Special Olympics games in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates on March 21, 2019.

Michael Stevenson, Great Britain Special Olympics Ten Pin Bowling athlete from Edinburgh, Scotland – Lothian region, Special Olympics games in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates on March 21, 2019.

 

Stephen Law Bate, Great Britain Special Olympics Football athlete from Runcorn, North West region, Special Olympics games in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates on March 21, 2019.

Stephen Law Bate, Great Britain Special Olympics Football athlete from Runcorn, North West region, Special Olympics games in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates on March 21, 2019.

 

Natalie Francis, Great Britain Special Olympics Ten Pin Bowling athlete from Surrey, Surrey region, Special Olympics games in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates on March 21, 2019.

Natalie Francis, Great Britain Special Olympics Ten Pin Bowling athlete from Surrey, Surrey region, Special Olympics games in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates on March 21, 2019.

 

Matthew White, Great Britain Special Olympics Ten Pin Bowling athlete from Dundee, Scotland – Tayside region, Special Olympics games in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates on March 21, 2019.

Matthew White, Great Britain Special Olympics Ten Pin Bowling athlete from Dundee, Scotland – Tayside region, Special Olympics games in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates on March 21, 2019.

 

Bethany Paull, Great Britain Special Olympics artistic gymnastics athlete from Gwent, Wales region, Special Olympics games in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates on March 21, 2019.

Bethany Paull, Great Britain Special Olympics artistic gymnastics athlete from Gwent, Wales region, Special Olympics games in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates on March 21, 2019.

 

Andrew Macintyre, Great Britain Special Olympics artistic gymnastics athlete from Bridge of Weir, Scotland West region, Special Olympics games in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates on March 21, 2019.

Andrew Macintyre, Great Britain Special Olympics artistic gymnastics athlete from Bridge of Weir, Scotland West region, Special Olympics games in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates on March 21, 2019.

 

Sean Jewitt, Great Britain Special Olympics artistic gymnastics athlete from Stockton on Tees, Northern region, Special Olympics games in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates on March 21, 2019.

Sean Jewitt, Great Britain Special Olympics artistic gymnastics athlete from Stockton on Tees, Northern region, Special Olympics games in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates on March 21, 2019.

 

Matthew Kirkland, Great Britain Special Olympics artistic gymnastics athlete from Jersay, Jersay region, Special Olympics games in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates on March 21, 2019.

Matthew Kirkland, Great Britain Special Olympics artistic gymnastics athlete from Jersay, Jersay region, Special Olympics games in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates on March 21, 2019.

 

Cailiegh Quail, Great Britain Special Olympics artistic gymnastics athlete from Jersay, Jersay region, Special Olympics games in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates on March 21, 2019.

Cailiegh Quail, Great Britain Special Olympics artistic gymnastics athlete from Jersay, Jersay region, Special Olympics games in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates on March 21, 2019.

 

Aaron Bonnar, Great Britain Special Olympics artistic gymnastics athlete from Jersey, Jersey region, Special Olympics games in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates on March 21, 2019.

Aaron Bonnar, Great Britain Special Olympics artistic gymnastics athlete from Jersey, Jersey region, Special Olympics games in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates on March 21, 2019.

 

Alistair Kemley, Great Britain Special Olympics artistic gymnastics athlete from Glasgow, Scotland West region, Special Olympics games in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates on March 21, 2019.

Alistair Kemley, Great Britain Special Olympics artistic gymnastics athlete from Glasgow, Scotland West region, Special Olympics games in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates on March 21, 2019.

 

Jannette Sharpe, Great Britain Special Olympics rhythmic gymnastics athlete from Milton Keynes, Southern region, Special Olympics games in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates on March 21, 2019.

Jannette Sharpe, Great Britain Special Olympics rhythmic gymnastics athlete from Milton Keynes, Southern region, Special Olympics games in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates on March 21, 2019.

 

 
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Asylum seekers from Africa, the Middle East and Central Asia take long journeys and risk their lives to reach Malta, Italy, Cyprus, Spain, and recently mostly Greece. They often travel with little money, among hunger, exhort and fatigue. After months, or even years of the journey, they reach Libyan or Turkish coast and take this final step: cross the Mediterranean Sea in a dinghy. And here they are, in Europe! Here they are – with a hope their lives are now free, wealthy and safe, thinking that Mediterranean waters have changed it all.

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Hamza, 21 years old from Somalia. He escape Muslim fundamentalists in his country and it took him three years before he got to safety in Malta where he has received an asylum.

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Hazem, 24 from Syria. He tried to get from Syria to Italy on a ship, but the ship got on rough waters near Cyprus where the escapees were forced to embark. He received international protection from Cypriot government.

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Behesht, two years old girl from Iran. She came to Greece with her mother and cousins. They flew to Istanbul and then took a bus to the Mediterranean coast.

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Parvane, 7 years old Uzbek from Afghanistan. She came to Greece with her family and many relatives. Four related Uzbek families, counting around 40 individuals came to Greece. It took them over two months to get to Kos from Afghanistan. They partly walked and partly took buses.

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Alef from Pakistan, 21. He came to Kos in Greece on the 21st of October. He travelled a month with his friends and cousin to get to the Turkish coast. There he took a dinghy with 7 other individuals. He wishes to live in Sweden.

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Chief, 19 years old form Sudan. He left his home when he was 15. It took him over two years to get from Sudan to Malta. He survived shooting on Sahara and a prison in Libya. In Malta he has received an asylum.

 

The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is much a media conflict. Israel, being better organised and far wealthier, have been winning this awkward competition for many years and tried to present Palestinians as extremists.  I decided to approach Palestinian men aged between 18 and 50. In 2014 I travelled the West Bank and asked my models to pose in their natural work environment.

Palestinians do not have access to many goods and modern commodities, what seems to make their lives less ambitious but also less hectic.

They have a great respect towards their tradition and religion.  What I have found most interesting is that they are very confident and proud.

 

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October, 2015

Asylum seekers who illegally cross Mediterranean waters in a dinghey are usually allowed to have only one small bag on them. They take whatever is most needed. It always is a mobile phone and ID. Some people take their combs, some take preyer beads. Children hide small toys in their pockets. They get into dinghies with their life jackets on, having the water as a carrier and an enemy. The Sea tries to grab it all.  The Greek shore becomes a museum of past lives of thousands of migrants, who left part of their identity behind. 

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