Alofi was born in 1984 in the holy city of Medina. As a child, he used to search for ancestral remains in the desert with his father, which deepened his bond to his homeland and stoked a lifelong curiosity about his surroundings. Although Alofi discovered photography as a hobby at the tender age of 8, he did not take it up seriously until he returned to his homeland after a 10-year absence, during which he spent four years in Jordan, four years in Australia earning a degree in environmental management and sustainable development, and two years traveling in other parts of the world.
“When I came back, there were major expansions and changes going on in Saudi Arabia,” Alofi says. “I started seeing my country through the eyes of a foreigner almost — as a person unfamiliar with his environment. In a sense, I was forced to rethink everything about where I grew up.” Rather than dwell on the shock of change, Alofi took the opportunity to explore his “new” country and document his findings.
One of the reasons Alofi’s photographs of secluded and uncharted destinations are so attractive today is that they are unfamiliar and unrecognizable to most people, including Saudis. This sparks curiosity about how Alofi finds his destinations in the first place. “I simply turn on the car and drive. But I make sure to broaden my vision as I go and stop when something catches my eye. Sometimes I also search on Google Maps for weird or unique areas, then highlight a place I like and drive there.
That’s how I’ve been conducting my explorations for the past seven years,” he says. In addition to his penchant for discovering ancient ruins and homes, he is deeply interested in the inhabitants of secluded villages who have kept the traditions of their Saudi ancestors alive.
When asked how he hopes his photography and artwork will inspire others, Alofi says, “I’d like it to invite people to search, explore and discover things for themselves; there’s far too much out there for me to discover on my own. In the past few years, I’ve come to learn, without a doubt, that this country still has a lot to offer in terms of historical sites and undiscovered destinations.
This land will keep surprising us with what it possesses. It is so old that there are many ruins and remnants of ancient civilizations that we still haven’t seen. And I don’t just mean man-made structures, but also eroded hills and mountains, and monumental natural sites shaped or even created and decayed over time.”
Alofi says it always thrills him to hear that people have gone to visit certain parts of Saudi after seeing his artwork of these little-known areas.
When Alofi is not busy discovering and exploring the long-lost and forgotten treasures of Saudi Arabia, he is running his art studio, called Al-Mthba, in Medina. He also co-founded a production group for safari trips called Erth Team and is the head of cultural programs at Medina’s regional development authority.
Alofi has a permanent exhibition at the Ithra museum in Aramco, and his artwork has also been displayed in Paris, London, Oman, Bahrain, Dammam, Jeddah, Moscow, Brussels, New Mexico and Utah.