Ali Arkady (b. 1982) is an artist, photographer, and filmmaker from Iraq. In 2009, Ali joined Metrography, the first Iraqi photo agency, and in 2014, he joined VII Photo Agency as part of the VII Mentor Program. In 2017, Ali had to flee Iraq with his family when his life was threatened after photographing Iraqi armed forces committing war crimes. He sought refuge in Europe, where he was granted asylum and has subsequently built a new life.
His photographs of war crimes in Iraq were published worldwide by international media and put pressure on the Iraqi government to acknowledge the crimes committed by their soldiers. For this work, he won the prestigious Bayeux Prize for War Correspondents in 2017 and the Free Press Unlimited Most Resilient Journalist Award in 2019 for his exceptional courage and persistence. His work was shown as part of the Venice Biennale 2017.
Ali’s work focused on armed conflict and the daily life of his countrymen during the American occupation and the rise of the Islamic State. For over 18 years, he has portrayed the conflicts that Iraq has experienced and the consequences of that conflict with sensitivity and an unflinching eye. His work in Iraq also includes illuminating the plight of the Yazidis, the violence of the Islamic State, and the ensuing displacement of internal populations. He has also worked in Syria, Turkey, Tunisia, and Europe.
He became a teacher in a UNHCR program for several Yazidi girls fleeing Islamic State who wanted to train to be photojournalists. He continues to mentor several of the students seven years later, and, in addition, he trains young men and women from the Arab-speaking world through programs at the VII Academy.