Focus on Fujairah: Through Minie’s Lense, 1964-2000 is a photo book documenting the creation of the Fujairah Maternity Hospital, built by Wilhelmina van de Weg, its daily life and her travels on the east coast. The photographer Massimo Ziino, during his trip to Fujairah, followed some of the paths, where Mrs. van de Weg took her shoots. Here you can find his photos, all rights reserved.
Fujairah Maternity Hospital was the only clinic from Musandam to Muscat; at that time, there was only one British doctor working there. The region had almost no access to modern medicine and its people suffered from high rates of malaria, infant mortality and death during childbirth; people in Fujairah agree every family in their emirate has at least a relative, who entered the world thanks to Wilhelmina van de Weg’s help.
Wilhelmina van de Weg, Mina or Muna (as she is known to the Emirati community), and her friend Joan Elliot built the first maternity ward on the east coast in 1967.
Born in the West Java capital of Bandung, Indonesia to Dutch parents, she was put into a prisoner of war camp at age 14 for a year-and-a-half. She left for the Netherlands around 1946 for her secondary school before studying nursing and midwifery in 1952; she set out on a freighter from Casablanca bound for Dubai in 1964.
They met at Stobhill Hospital in Glasgow, where they studied nursing and midwifery; in order to start and manage their project, they had to become also mechanics, electricians, dentists and builders. Joan left the Emirates in August 1975, Minie still lives in the compound of the maternity hospital they built. Wearing her white hair coiled in a braid over her head and a traditional-style loose mauve dress, she welcomes friends with Dutch allspice biscuits and a familiarity that befits a woman who delivered three generations to one family.
Minie’s carefully photo collection contains about 1,700 snapshots from 1964, beginning with Minie and Joan’s arrival by freighter in Dubai, from Casablanca.
Minie still goes to the Fujairah Maternity Hospital every day.
Oh yes, I visit the babies twice a day to make sure they’re OK
she says. She is also working on a book with HH Sheikh Abdullah bin Suhail al-Sharqi, a member of the Fujairah ruling family, and the archaeologist Michele Ziolkowski to document her life through her photographs.
I don’t like photography. I like people.