Co-created by Sam Stourdzé, the director of famous international photo festival Rencontres d’Arles (France), and Chinese pioneer photographer RongRong (also the founder of China’s first ever photography museum Three Shadows Photography Art Centre), Jimei x Arles features international artists selected from Rencontres d’Arles alongside Chinese and Asian photography talents. The festival has attracted more than 160,000 visitors since its inception in 2015.

The festival takes place in Xiamen, formerly known as Amoy, a coastal city that has been an important port for centuries. Located across the Taiwan strait, famous for the colonial-era Gulangyu island, it is a vibrant and modern city that is also the home of China's independent fashion scene. The festival's main sites are located in Xiamen's new district of Jimei.

Jimei x Arles International Photo Festival is co-produced by Xiamen’s Jimei District - Tianxia Jimei Media and Three Shadows Photography Art Centre. Founders of art & culture agency Doors Bérénice Angremy and Victoria Jonathan are the festival’s art directors, while Doors is in charge of the executive production.

During his first official visit to China in January 2019, French President Emmanuel Macron recognized Jimei x Arles festival as an example of Sino-French cultural cooperation.

Bringing each year to China exhibitions from one of the most renowned photo festival in the world, Rencontres d’Arles, Jimei x Arles also aims at providing a platform for new Chinese photography with several exhibitions showcasing young Chinese photographers and curators. Aside from the Jimei x Arles Discovery Award, which rewards a Chinese photography talent with 200,000 RMB and an exhibition at Rencontres d’Arles the next summer, the festival has created in 2017 a special prize for women photographers: the Jimei x Arles – Madame Figaro China Women Photographers Award, co-organized with women's magazine Madame Figaro, with the support of Women in Motion, an international programme launched in 2015 by luxury group Kering to showcase the contribution of women to the film and image industry.

Along with the exhibition program, a number of events are organized for photography professionals, art lovers and the public during the Opening Week: PhotoFolio Reviews, public discussions about photography, performances, university lectures, and exhibition tours guided by artists and curators.