A Film by Ahmed Mater

In 2013, Ahmed was given permission by the Saudi Arabian government to film the holy city of Mecca, the grand mosque Al Masjid al-Haram, which houses the Kaaba, the holiest site in Islam, and its environs.

Over the course of the past decade, Mecca has undergone an unprecedented urban transformation, with massive extensions of the mosque and mass gentrification of historic areas of the city. This is due in part to the increasing number of people performing the annual Hajj, or pilgrimage.

Ahmed records a city that continues to change both physically and geopolitically. The scenes found in Disarm are shot from an army helicopter on the lookout for unsanctioned pilgrims, entering the city without permits, hoping to gain cover from the mountainous terrain surrounding the city. Their sinister soundtrack of rotating helicopter blades and the dehumanising contrast of the monochrome blue offer an acute commentary on the militarisation of the sacred city.

arrow-down icon arrow-left icon arrow-right icon carousel-left icon carousel-right icon close icon facebook icon grid icon instagram icon letter icon mail icon mute icon search icon twitter icon unmute icon youtube icon