RIYADH: Amjad Al-Mutairi was born without sight due to a rare condition, but that has not stopped her from adopting a positive attitude to life and establishing herself as a social media star of photography.
The 20-year-old was diagnosed with arterial tortuosity syndrome at birth. This extremely rare genetic disorder is characterized by lengthening and twisting or distortion of arteries in the body, and can result in life-threatening complications.
She was also born seven months prematurely and with a defect in her left eye that left her with a squint.
No one else in her family has the genetic condition, and it has been a great challenge for Al-Mutairi.
“In my childhood days, I suffered from bullying, and it reached the point where I was ashamed of my appearance, which seemed strange to others. I just wanted to live a normal life without being bullied or ridiculed for how I look,” she told Arab News.
Despite these difficulties, she worked hard to pursue her passion for photography and came up with the concept for a camera that can be used by blind people and has a voice output.
“I won first place in the Talent Creativity contest 2019 at the level of Majmaah governorate, one of the Riyadh city governorates. My creative idea was to make a camera equipped for the blind, but it is just an idea that I would like to make it a reality one day,” she added.
Al-Mutairi is blind in her left eye and has almost no sight in her right. To pursue photography, she uses programs for the blind that depict and explain the picture.
She was told at first that it was impossible for her to become a photographer, but she persisted. “When I first started photography, I joined an online class, but the instructor told me that I cannot be a photographer because of my condition.
“I learned photography with the help of some programs that describe the image, and I have a creative and artistic sense that guides me through the picture.”
Al-Mutairi has developed an instinct for photography, and it is not just about clicking a button.
Speaking about how personal the process is, she said: “I believe that photographing happy events and diaries depends on the photographer’s feelings that they convey to the viewer. Therefore, I always say that I take the picture in my senses before my vision, because it is feelings before, they express beauty.”
Whoever suffers from a congenital defect should not hide it, but rather live their life as the rest of people do because true beauty is complemented by the human spirit and is not only in form.
Amjad Al-Mutairi, Saudi photographer
When the fledgling photographer joined TikTok, she was overwhelmed by the positive feedback from people who supported and encouraged her, and told her that she gives them hope.
Al-Mutairi said that she was glad to have joined the platform because it has helped to spread the message that “disability does not hinder, but rather is the motivation for us to live.”
She added: “Whoever suffers from a congenital defect should not hide it, but rather live their life as the rest of people do because true beauty is complemented by the human spirit and is not only in form.”
Al-Mutairi is a media student at King Saud University. In some of her TikTok videos, she shows the facilities provided at the university for people with disabilities, such as the incorporation of braille, a system of touch reading and writing for the blind, and special pathways for easy accessibility.
“In King Saudi University, they embrace my talents, push me to success and excellence, and provide me with all the means that support equality,” she said.
Al-Mutairi aspires to become a model in order to show that her disability will not prevent her from excelling in any activity she chooses.