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Aryn Baker

With its vast oil wealth, Saudi Arabia has one of the highest concentrations of super rich households in the world. But an estimated 20 percent of the population, if not more, lives in crippling poverty. Beggars panhandle in the shadows of Riyadh’s luxury shopping malls, and just a few kilometers away families struggle to get by in the capital’s southern slums. While the government has finally acknowledged that poverty is a problem in the kingdom, the world of the Saudi poor is largely hidden from sight (to read more, see the new article on Saudi Arabia in the international edition of TIME, available to subscribers here).

Accessing this world is a difficult undertaking for foreign journalists, granted only with the assistance of a few dedicated social workers who risk government opprobrium to expose the realities of life lived on the margins. The Saudi state offers free health care and education, but little in the way of income assistance or food stamps. Many poor Saudi families rely on handouts from private citizens instead. Muslims are expected to give a portion of their annual income to charity, and many go beyond the bare minimum. Prince Al Waleed bin Talal, Saudi Arabia’s richest investor, estimates that he has given several billions of dollars in charity over the past 30 years, much of it wired directly to the accounts of petitioners who apply to his office for assistance with paying back loans, buying a car or getting married. It’s not necessary, but most of those supplicants visit the prince in person as part of a weekly ritual dating back to the early days of the al Saud dynasty. They line up to deliver their requests. Several pause to recite poems in praise of his generosity. The government has pledged to eradicate poverty, but it is a difficult and long-term undertaking made all the more complex by a rapidly growing population and a paucity of jobs.

Lynsey Addario is a photographer based in London and a frequent contributor to TIME.

Aryn Baker is the Middle East bureau chief for TIME. Follow her on Twitter @arynebaker.

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Israeli airstrikes began November 14, following months of Palestinian rocket fire into Israel. Monday, the top leader of Hamas dared Israel to launch a ground invasion of Gaza and dismissed diplomatic efforts to broker a cease-fire in the six-day-old conflict, as the Israeli military conducted a new wave of deadly airstrikes which included a second hit on a 15-story building that houses media outlets. What follows is just a small collection of images from the last few days of the conflict. – Paula Nelson ( 34 photos total)
A Palestinian firefighter tries to extinguish a fire after an Israeli air strike, on a floor in a building that also houses international media offices in Gaza City, November 19, 2012. (Suhaib Salem/Reuters)

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The whole time I was shooting I could hear the deafening sound of the shells landing only a couple kilometers away, a reminder of how close I was to the fighting.

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Scores of Syrian civilians, many of them women with screaming children, are crossing Orontes, a narrow river marking the border with Turkey, to flee the fighting in Azmarin and surrounding villages. Residents on the other side of the river, from the Turkish village of Hacipasa, help pull them across in small metal boats.

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by Sophia Jones

  • A Free Syrian Army fighter in the Bustan Pasha neighborhood of Aleppo, Syria, Aug. 21.

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    A Free Syrian Army fighter in the Bustan Pasha neighborhood of Aleppo, Syria, Aug. 21.

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    Courtesy of James Lawler Duggan

  • A Free Syrian Army fighter dodges sniper fire in the Salah Al Din neighborhood of Aleppo, Aug. 22.

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    A Free Syrian Army fighter dodges sniper fire in the Salah Al Din neighborhood of Aleppo, Aug. 22.

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    Courtesy of James Lawler Duggan

  • Free Syrian Army fighters exchange fire with regime forces in the Salah Al Din neighborhood of Aleppo, Aug. 22.

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    Free Syrian Army fighters exchange fire with regime forces in the Salah Al Din neighborhood of Aleppo, Aug. 22.

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    Courtesy of James Lawler Duggan

  • Free Syrian Army fighters take cover from a Syrian attack helicopter in the Sakhour neighborhood of Aleppo, Aug. 23.

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    Free Syrian Army fighters take cover from a Syrian attack helicopter in the Sakhour neighborhood of Aleppo, Aug. 23.

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    Courtesy of James Lawler Duggan

  • A Syrian civilian shows marks of torture after his release from regime forces in the Bustan Pasha neighborhood of Aleppo, Aug. 23.

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    A Syrian civilian shows marks of torture after his release from regime forces in the Bustan Pasha neighborhood of Aleppo, Aug. 23.

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    Courtesy of James Lawler Duggan

  • Free Syrian Army fighters take position in the Salah Al Din neighborhood of Aleppo, Aug. 22.

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    Free Syrian Army fighters take position in the Salah Al Din neighborhood of Aleppo, Aug. 22.

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    Courtesy of James Lawler Duggan

  • Free Syrian Army fighters exchange fire with regime forces in the Salah Al Din neighborhood of Aleppo, Aug. 22.

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    Free Syrian Army fighters exchange fire with regime forces in the Salah Al Din neighborhood of Aleppo, Aug. 22.

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    Courtesy of James Lawler Duggan

  • Young Syrians run for cover as a Free Syrian Army fighter returns sniper fire in the Bustan Pasha neighborhood of Aleppo, Aug. 21.

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    Young Syrians run for cover as a Free Syrian Army fighter returns sniper fire in the Bustan Pasha neighborhood of Aleppo, Aug. 21.

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    Courtesy of James Lawler Duggan

  • Free Syrian Army fighters take cover from helicopter fire in the Bustan Pasha neighborhood of Aleppo, Aug. 21.

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    Free Syrian Army fighters take cover from helicopter fire in the Bustan Pasha neighborhood of Aleppo, Aug. 21.

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    Courtesy of James Lawler Duggan

  • A Free Syrian Army fighter climbs through a damaged wall during fighting in the Saif Dawla neighborhood of Aleppo, Aug. 24.

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    A Free Syrian Army fighter climbs through a damaged wall during fighting in the Saif Dawla neighborhood of Aleppo, Aug. 24.

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    Courtesy of James Lawler Duggan

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When the Arab Spring broke out two years ago, photojournalist James Lawler Duggan grabbed his camera. As waves of protests pulsed through the Middle East, Duggan, on a leave of absence from the Corcoran School of Art, followed conflict through Bahrain, Libya, Egypt and finally into Syria.

This past August, he crossed the Turkish border and made his way to Aleppo to capture images of Free Syrian Army rebel fighters. Working for Agence-France Press, his photos were distributed all over the world.

As helicopters fired rockets and regime tanks rolled through abandoned neighborhoods, Duggan, 25, set out to document what he says gives meaning to his own life: the human extreme.

Photojournalist James Lawler Duggan.
Courtesy of James Lawler Duggan

Photojournalist James Lawler Duggan.

His work represents a delicate balance between accessing risk, taking meaningful photos and dealing with the aftershock of seeing such extreme violence.

"Photographing something graphic spares you the trauma of it," he explains. "The focus on capturing the frame affords you a callus. But it catches up to you later."

Unarmed, Duggan put faith in the Free Syrian Army fighters who were guiding him — while also trying not to become too emotionally attached to them, a survival technique in its own rite.

"I never broke down crying in Syria," he says, looking down at a photograph of a man with crimson torture scars on his back. "But I have since I came home."

The photo, taken in a Free Syrian Army safe house, shows a man who had just been tortured by Assad regime forces. It is perhaps Duggan's most widely published photo.

A Syrian civilian shows marks of torture after his release from regime forces in the Bustan Pasha neighborhood of Aleppo, Aug. 23.
Courtesy of James Lawler Duggan

A Syrian civilian shows marks of torture after his release from regime forces in the Bustan Pasha neighborhood of Aleppo, Aug. 23.

Minutes before the photo was taken, Duggan explains, two civilian men walked into the room, one looking clearly roughed up. The other man at first seemed unharmed, but when he took off his shirt, Duggan clicked his camera. "At the moment, it wasn't clear the power the photo would have," he says.

In a way, the shot could symbolize how the war is everywhere in Syria — even if it seems hidden.

Photographers in war zones often have to be in the line of fire in order to capture it. While Duggan says he doesn't take unnecessary risks, he acknowledges the incredible dangers of "bang-bang photography," referring to a group of photographers who documented apartheid and violence in South Africa in the early '90s. Looking back, he says he can think of numerous occasions where he jumped headfirst into a potentially deadly situation.

"It's fashionable for conflict photographers to tell each other to be safe and not to take unnecessary risks, but at the end of the day, we're all trying to get closer and push the envelope. I spent two of my nine lives in Syria," he admits.

This month, he (along with this blogger) will be participating in RISC — Reporters Instructed in Saving Colleagues — a course that gives freelance journalists medical training for life-threatening situations. The program was set up by Sebastian Junger, a friend of photographer Tim Hetherington, who was killed during the conflict in Libya.

"I'm honored to get this opportunity," Duggan says — adding that all freelancers should prepare for the realities of combat.

He says he constantly thinks about the impact of his career on friends and family. "I wear a flak jacket for my mother, not my editor or anyone else. My mother."

You can see more of James Lawler Duggan's work on his website.

Sophia Jones is an intern with NPR News.

Copyright 2012 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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