DHAHRAN: Armed with a backpack full of heavy gear and a quiet confidence, 24-year-old Mohammed Ghazi takes a deep breath as he puts his work goggles on. Then the magic, or buzzing, begins.
At the King Abdulaziz Center for World Culture’s (Ithra) library, the quiet space jolts to life as Ghazi’s drone takes flight. While photographers are often spotted at the stunning library, it is unusual to see images being captured by a drone during working hours.
Ghazi, who has many family members in Dhahran, feels a personal connection to the city. On getting the rare opportunity to fly his drone camera at Ithra’s library, he told Arab News: “I always thought ‘I can’t wait for the chance to get to drone it,’ which is not that easy. No one gets to drone Ithra. So it is a real honor to get to say that I was able to — and not outside, inside.”
The drone flies over the bookshelves and above visitors. It is almost enough to give you motion sickness — but Ghazi remains unfazed. As the son of a pilot, flying is in his blood.
With the use of drones, Mohammed Ghazi intends to tell the visual stories of the Kingdom’s many regions and its people. (Supplied) From a very young age, he would visit his father at work in the cockpit. The experience propelled him to pursue that same love but with his own take on it.
“I gravitated toward drones, which is fun, because my dad was a pilot for Saudia Airlines,” he said. Ghazi had meant to follow in his father’s footsteps, but eventually ended up going to art school.
Born in Jeddah, Ghazi moved to the US when he was two years old. During his childhood in Philadelphia he developed a love of films, and when it was time to choose a major for university, he opted for a bachelor’s in film design and production.
Ghazi’s mother enrolled at the same university to earn her master’s degree in art education. They were in some of the same classes, which led to some healthy competition between mother and son.
He never stopped longing to visit Saudi Arabia, and when classes shifted to online learning during COVID-19, he jumped at the chance to visit his hometown. It was meant to be a short trip to visit family in Jeddah, but Ghazi was amazed at how different yet familiar his birthplace was.