Ammar Al Attar first began to train his eye by noticing the eccentric, the unusual, and the fleeting scenes that repeated in his everyday life. His early images successfully persuaded viewers to pause and reconsider a scene they mindlessly passed by each day. In 2011, he was invited to participate in the second edition of Emirati Expressions, an annual group exhibition that opens during Abu Dhabi Art on Manarat Al Sadiyaat, the cultural island that will ultimately also play host to the UAE-based Louvre and Guggenheim museums.

In the lead up to the exhibition, the photographer Stephen Shore served as tutor to the group of local artists, assigning each of them to produce a Visual Diary of daily life in the UAE. Shore himself is known for common—even trite—shots of Americana, which undoubtedly had an influence on Al Attar’s early practice. From a sleek office complex to a tiny neighborhood grocery store exterior—these works (shot with Leica M6) serve as foreshadow for the trajectory the artist’s practice would soon take, with hints of Prayer Rooms and Sibeel Water to come.