For hundreds of years, photographers have brought pictures of war home to citizens. The sometimes harrowing images have been historically influential in swaying the public’s perception and support of a war in which their country is fighting.
Now, the men and women who participate and fight in conflicts across the world have a unique way of sharing their war experiences. People can present their self-taken photographs and videos through social media - thereby reaching the public in raw, unedited and personal ways. Selfies and other images posted on social media sites show a whole new perspective on what people actually face in global conflicts.
This phenomenon is illustrated by the recent postings by a member of Dubai’s royalty. HH Sheikh Mansoor bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum is the son of HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, and he recently joined the cause in Yemen, helping in the fight against Houthi militant rebels.
Sheikh Mansoor took photos and videos of himself in battle-torn areas. He then posted some of the images, taken in the city of Marab, on Instagram earlier this week. In one image, he is holding an automatic weapon and wearing a protective vest. In the most recent post on his account, he wrote that, “This is the historical throne of Balqees reclaimed by Yemen after a battle with terrorists whom [sic] occupied it previously by force.” He included the hashtag #selfieduringwar.
Sheikh Mansoor also recorded a 15-second video showing coalition troops in Marab following their defeat of the Houthis. He is heard saying in the video: “Thank God we reached this beautiful place today after a big effort.” The video clip also shows Sheikh Mansoor speaking with a local Yemeni man and giving his promise that they will soon reach the city of Sana’a, the capital of Yemen.
In addition to Sheikh Mansoor’s use of social media to share his experiences of the conflict in Yemen, another Gulf royal, Prince Nasser bin Hamad Al Khalifa, similarly told his stories to the public. Prince Nasser is a member of the Bahraini royal family and the Commander of the Royal Guard Force, now fighting in Yemen.
In a photograph posted on Wednesday, Prince Nasser is dressed in full army gear carrying a weapon. He captioned the image with a statement that, “We return back home tomorrow after successful operations to support our brothers in Yemen. It was a deep honor to serve shoulder to shoulder with the coalition forces, and the brave men of Yemen. Hoping that future brings security and stability to the region.”
Sheikh Mansoor, Prince Nasser and their troops are fighting alongside coalition-led forces in order to retake Sana’a, which Houthi rebels captured a year ago, and to restore to power Yemen’s rightful government.
The violence in the country continues to escalate, and earlier this week, 15 coalition soldiers were killed in a Houthi rocket attack in the seaport city of Aden.