Since the 1960’s, the Shayba region was known to be abundant in both oil and natural gas, but only in the last decade did petroleum and transportation technology reach a level permitting a serious exploitation of its resources. It is now one of Saudi Aramco’s key projects, and is the highly sophisticated home and working environment to about 750 employees working on oil and gas extraction.
As a tribute to this industrial achievement, Saudi Aramco commissioned Al Mohtaraf to research, photograph, and design an ultimate book on and around the site of Shayba. To this end, Al Mohtaraf dedicated a year’s period of research and photography, and undertook a number of site expeditions. The final product, entitled ‘Shaybah: the Hideaway of the Empty Quarter’, is tripartite, where the first section tackles the Empty Quarter and Shaybah’s history, the second its current status and most recent developments, and the third tackles Shayba’s setting, environment, and wildlife. One thing that is worth noting is the fact that the shooting crew for this book consisted of young Saudi photographers, making it therefore not only a tribute to the project, but also to self-representation. The book is 24*30 cm landscape, and is approx. 144 pages long. The factual paragraphs in the book are highlighted by doing a different design template and printing it on uncoated paper that is cut 1.5 cm away from the edge of the book.