Dubai, like other cities in the United Arab Emirates, is known for skyscrapers, lavish hotels and massive malls. This Middle Eastern utopia, however, is mired in controversy over the conditions that its 5 million migrant laborers endure. Scores of migrants live in overcrowded labor camps, and many work for years and are left without savings.
The stark contrasts typical of Dubai have inspired the work of artists, photographers and filmmakers over the past few years. Magnum photographer Olivia Arthur’s latest book, Stranger, looks at contemporary Dubai — from narrow alleyways to overpowering skylines.
But Arthur, whose work typically revolves around the East-West cultural divide, sought to avoid capturing Dubai from her “Western eyes,” she told the British Journal of Photography.
“I wanted to force myself to see things afresh,” the London-based photographer said.
To achieve a distant yet intimate perspective, she researched a shipwreck that took place off the port of Dubai in 1961. The ship had been carrying passengers from India, Pakistan and the Gulf — 238 of whom drowned.
Underlying Arthur’s collection of photographs are the following questions: “What if someone could have survived? And what would they see if they came to the city now, 50 years later?”
Scroll down for more images from Arthur’s Stranger.
Dubai, United Arab Emirates, 2013. A man buried in the sand on Jumeirah Beach.
Dubai, United Arab Emirates, 2013. Workers unload sharks from vans at the Dubai Fish Market.