Demographics of Dubai
Ethnic breakdown. Approximately 85% of the expatriate population (and 71% of the emirate’s total population) was Asian (chiefly Indian, Pakistani, Filipino, Bangladeshi and Sri Lankan). About 25% of the population have Iranian origin. About 3% of the total population of Dubai was categorized as “Western”. (source Wikipedia).
This body of work is underpinned by a narrative not of place, but rather of social movement and a transient migrant workforce. It captures the temporary nature of the urban landscape in an area in which over eighty five percent of the population lives. A population that is here today yet will one day have to leave. The immigration laws in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), welcome migrant workers, but equally ensure that they leave when there is no more work, or when they retire.
This work celebrates Dubai’s cultural diversity. While many of the subjects have grown up in vastly different backgrounds to my own, we all share a similar story. We are all in this country to earn money to support our families, and to create a better future for the time when we return to the place that we call home. We all find a way to live peacefully together, despite our differences. We all enjoy the winter climate, and equally, we all sweat during the blisteringly hot summers.
“Transient” examines not only the identity of a physical area, or highlights the breadth of cultures, but it captures the transient nature of individuals in the social environment which is unique to the Middle East. The temporary nature of the majority of the population is highlighted, thus creating a depth beyond the clichéd contrast of hand loaded wooden trading vessels moored next to a road bustling with expensive Japanese 4x4s.
Here we have Iranian, Indian, and Pakistani workers and merchants who are at the coal face of the Dubai trade machine, Emirati women shopping in the souqs watched on by tourists from Oman, Saudi, Korea, China and the West.
Embedded in this series is another contrast too. Some nationalities, particularly those from the East are literally honoured to have their image taken. It is common to be stopped as I walk the streets and docks, by men asking me to take their picture. Yet, for now, they live in a completely different society. One which has designed and implemented some of the most protective privacy laws in the world. In every aspect of creating and compiling this body of work, I have operated within a legal framework that is rigorously designed to preserve the ideals and individual rights of the most conservative groups in society against the modern intrusions of the paparazzi and social media.
Prints can be ordered through The Empty Quarter Gallery in Dubai.