Wall in a private building in Khan Yonis, southern Gaza strip, shows signs of shelling.

“ Well what is my dream? 

I am not really certain about it, although sometimes I would like to become a president, you know the king but a bit more different and more modern. Becoming president is a way for me, to bring change, to help people, to be a leader, and also  “ to know more” (confidential secrets) and many more things. Unfortunately this is just a dream, but fortunately dreams do come true. ”

Cyrus P., Tehran, Iran

It’s a rainy November morning in Gaza and a truce has just been announced after 8 days of fighting. A young man stands in the rubbles of what is left of his home, destroyed in an air strike just an hour before the war ended. Behind him, a framed picture still hangs crooked on the wall. The boy’s name is Ahmed, he is 18 years old and the son of a fisherman. He wants to live in peace and go to college but we are in the Gaza strip and dreams have their limits here, you often have the feeling of being caught up in a game where you always turn out the looser.

On the other side, 95 kilometers and a wall away, is Jerusalem, the city many Gazawi's dream of visiting but who most never will. This is a land of contradictions, a land of walls, a land of visible and invisible borders. From Omri’s Art school you can see the separation wall on a clear day. Omri, who got freed from the obligatory Israeli military service by pretending he was gay during the medical examinations, says that he dreams of feeling at home someplace someday, away from the religious and political tensions he has grown up with.

THEY CALL US DREAMERS BUT WE'RE THE ONES WHO DON'T SLEEP is a photo essay looking at the hopes and dreams of youth, inspired by the fact that youth should be the age of infinite possibilities.

It originated from the idea that youth is the age of infinite possibility because hopes and dreams are not yet conditioned by experience so one might actually believe in miracles.

As I continued the work across the Middle East in the aftermath of the Arab Spring revolutions, I realised until which extent dreams and aspirations are actually conditioned by society.  

Abdallah Al-Rhaman, 19 works with his brother Ahmed, together they make a living by performing with horses in weddings and ceremonies, just like their father used to do.

When asked about his dreams and future aspirations he says:
“ To stay with my horse all the time, all my life. My life is horses. ”

Dorna, student at the Academy of Art,poses for a portrait in her studio. She doesn’t feel free to express herself in Iran and studies German so that she can eventually continue her life in Berlin. When asked about her future dreams and aspirations, she says:

“ I want to be professional in all ways and all jobs. I want to conclude all I do perfectly. In this way I can make my choices and not leave anything undone. Time is passing and each moment I live is a fight to be in the present. To work in an every day routine, to do my best and to understand the present in order to live fully, peacefully with nature. ”

View on an empty space still burning after hit in an Israeli air strike in Gaza city, the Gaza strip.

A couple of men pass by the remains of what used to be the National Democratic Party’s landmark, torched on January 28th, 2011 during the escalations that came to topple Hosni Mubarak.

Maryam Sadeghi, 20, studies illustration at the Academy of Art in Tehran.

“ I do not have many wishes because I got everything I wanted, but many little wishes do exist...My last wish...is death. I came to this egoistic world where everybody think about themselves…I hope that when I die, I shall find the world that I was always looking for. ”

A combat soldier alone in the rain during an exercise.

Two Turkish women talk on a lawn while president Erdogan delivers a speech during a mass rally a day after ockupants were evicted from Gezi park in Istanbul.

Discarded life jackets on a beach in Lesvos. Most refugees who arrive in boats from Turkey shed their drenched clothes, bags and life jackets once they disembark, before continuing towards the main port of the island for the Athens bound ferry.

17-year Omar from Syria arrived at Skala beach in Lesvos with clothes dripping wet. He says: ’ I came here because I have diabetes and need a doctor.’

Passengers, most of whom are refugees, disembark a ferry coming from Lesvos at arrival in Pireus port of Athens at dawn.

Amin, 17, from Afghanistan sits by the port in Mytillini where he and his friends wait to get a ticket for the next ferry to Athns.

’ I am going to Sweden to continue my education and to play football. My favorite team is Real Madrid. I hope one day there will be no war in any country.’

Afghan men sit next to the port in Mytillini, Lesvos after a swim and wash up in the water. They arrived by boat from Turkey and as many others they wait to get a ticket on the next ferry to Athens.

Afghan boys wait next to Tovarnik railway station a few days after the Hungarian border crossing closed and thousands of refugees crossed the Serbian border into Croatia instead, on the look for a new route towards Austria and Germany.

Bahman takes a morning dip in a waterfall after a night at mount Daraband where he often goes to escape the city on weekends.

A poster of Yasser Arafat inside the print department of Industrial Islamic Orphanage School.

Aaron Kreus from the ultra orthodox neighbourhood Mea Shearim is the oldest out of 15 syblings. His father is the action leader of the anti-Zionist movement Eda Haredit and just like him, Aaron is convinced that the Zionists are the most dangerous enemies of the Jewish people and that Orthodox Jewry must fight them until they are destroyed. According to Aaron, the ancient Jewish state was annihilated by Gods will and only the Messiah can reestablish it. Any interference to create a state is against the Torah. The state of Israel is therefore unacceptable.

When asked about his future dreams and aspirations he says:

“ That the heresy of the Zionist kingdom is destroyed and that the Messiah will come. The Messiah will never come unless the Zionist state is destroyed. ”

Palestinian girls and boys in the old city wait for a rare cultural event to start in Al Quds university.

Nachman is the second son of an Irish catholic convert father and a Jewish orthodox mother. He is an excellent drummer, plays everything from rock to jazz and klezmer. Most of the time, however, he plays Hasidic music in religious weddings-to make a living. The Gemarah, the part of the Talmud that comprises rabbinical analysis and commentary on the Mishnah, says that one sometimes has to do work one does not love if it helps one to earn the daily bread.

When asked about his dreams and future aspirations, Nachman says: “ I want to become a somebody.”

Midday prayers in New Sanaa

Cairo cat on a pile of jute bags in Mukkatam neighborhood.

Afternoon in Dokki - Giulia’s staircase.

Usama, 21 has been an active member of El Nasser Salah El Dine brigades during 4 years.

His dream: “ That all my land comes back to the Palestinian people and to go to Jerusalem. I want it so bad”.

Cyril is the only child of a fashion designer who recently moved back to Iran after years abroad. When asked about his future dreams and aspirations, he says: “ Well what is my dream?

I am not really certain about it, although sometimes I would like to become a president, you know the king but a bit more different and more modern. Becoming president is a way for me, to bring change, to help people, to be a leader, and also “ to know more” (confidential secrets) and many more things. Unfortunately this is just a dream, but fortunately dreams do come true. ”

Zahra is a Taekwando championess from Karaj, northwest of Tehran. She started practising the sport when she was 9 and has continued ever since with the support of her family. When asked about her dreams and future aspirations, she says:

“ One of my biggest dreams is to enter Iran’s National Taekwando Team and to win in competitions and achieve higher ranks and platforms. I dream that one day my success in international fields will raise my country’s flag and that our national anthem can be heard throughout the world. I hope that this way I can compensate for a part of all the troubles my family has gone through all these years and to thank my Master who has always encouraged and motivated me on this path. ”

A construction worker poses for a picture on the working site next to Saleh mosque, the largest and most modern mosque in Sana’a. He hopes to continue the work he does in the future.

View on an old city mosque at prayer time.

Farhad poses for a portrait in the room he shares with two other Afghan men who, like him, work illegally in the booming Tehrani construction business. Farhad paid a smuggler to take him from Afghanistan, via Pakistan and across the border to Iran and he will go back the same way he came after a few months or a year. When asked about his dreams and future aspirations, he answers:

“ I saw you with my lips of heart and fire coming to my body and if I hear that you are in trouble, something bad will happen to your enemies.”

A mural of Ayatollah Khomeini on one side and of brothers, martyred during the Iran-Iraq war, on the other, in a southern Tehran residential area.

View over Sana’a Old City at dusk in Yemen.

Fatoom comes to skate at Fun City in Hedda every day. She is a University student and says that she wants to become a lawyer.

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