Socotra is an island owned by Yemen, located in the Indian Ocean near the coast of Somalia. It is considered one of the most isolated islands in the world with a non-volcanic origin, having separated from Africa around 6 million years ago. The island’s long isolation, intense heat and drought, hurricane season from
May to September, noticeable climate softening in the winter months, and special climatic conditions in mountainous regions have resulted in a unique flora and fauna on the island. Due to its distinctiveness, Socotra is included in the UNESCO World Heritage List. However, the island faces threats from alien species, climate change, and human impact such as goats eating young shoots of bottle trees and dragon trees, which harms the endemic species of Socotra.
The symbol of Socotra is the Dracaena cinnabari, also known as the Dragon tree, which resembles a large mushroom or umbrella. When cut, the bark of this tree produces red sap that quickly solidifies. Locals have used the resulting crimson gum for medical, veterinary, and cosmetic purposes since ancient times. They believe that the juice of the Dracaena cinnabari can stop bleeding during menstruation in women.
To see more about this incredible place, visit my Instagram. Personally, I was amazed by the kilometer-long dunes along the shores of the azure Indian Ocean, pufferfish, and bottle trees blooming like sakura.
My journey into the world of photography began when I was just 14 years old. I started tinkering with photo editing software and creating collages on my own. By the time I turned 16, I had received my first camera and became hooked on capturing images. Fast forward 18 years and I’m still passionate about the art of photography. For me, the creative process involved in producing each photo is what keeps me interested in this craft.
My friend and I had the opportunity to explore an island thanks to an invitation from a local travel company. However, the only way to reach the island was through a package tour as tickets for charters from Abu Dhabi were only available for purchase on Socotra Island and the plane only flew once a week. Upon arrival at the airport, the island’s inhabitants were curious about the tourists standing in line for registration.
While there were no major difficulties during our trip, we did experience some complications with coronavirus restrictions during our journey from Dubai to Abu Dhabi in April 2021. We were required to wear GPS bracelets and were monitored like prisoners to ensure we didn’t wander off from the taxi. Thankfully, these measures were lifted at the airport and we were able to fly to Socotra. Once on the island, we underwent blood sampling tests for COVID-19.
The biggest obstacle we faced during filming was the absence of electricity, which made things quite challenging. Since the island is quite wild, and the only accommodation available is in tents, we had to constantly move around to keep our cameras charged. Despite the extreme heat, though, we managed to get by just fine. I would strongly advise closing your tent at all times while on the island, as there are some harmful goats that will eat just about anything they come across, including endemic trees such as Dragon trees and Bottle trees.
The island’s small bottle trees and massive white sand dunes caught my attention the most. During the months of May to October, strong hurricane winds blow across Socotra, carrying these mountains of sand from the deserts of Africa. This location is truly distinct. Additionally, the Dragon’s Blood trees with red sap were also a fascinating sight to see.
I tend to work on multiple projects simultaneously, all of which revolve around showcasing the beauty and distinctiveness of our planet. I strongly believe that the world is even more stunning than what can be captured through a photograph.