Architecture, Photobooks

Olivia Arthur photographs Dubai’s obsession with wealth

All images © Olivia Arthur/ Magnum courtesy Fishbar

"They found bodies with life vests around their necks, their pockets full of gold." A shipwreck that killed an estimated 238 people formed the inspiration for Olivia Arthur's contemporary take of Dubai.

Stranger, the latest photobook from Magnum photographer Olivia Arthur, is a journey through contemporary Dubai – a city which, since 1960, has expanded from a population of 90,0000 to over 2 million, metamorphosing from a modest fishing settlement into a land of promised riches, the ultimate playground of excess.

Moving through the images in Stranger, we are presented with golden beaches, men clad in white flowing robes, sunlight illuminating towering skyscrapers, and many, many flash cars.

“In Dubai, everybody, from all backgrounds and walks of life, come to make money,” says Arthur.

In Stranger, the consumerism and extreme wealth synonymous with the ‘City of Gold’ is palpable.

But photographing Dubai in a straight documentary mode didn’t interest Arthur. “I wanted to avoid looking at Dubai through my western eyes,” she says. “I wanted to force myself to see things afresh.”

U.A.E. Dubai. The view from Jumeirah Beach Residence in the Marina. 2013

U.A.E. Dubai. The view from Jumeirah Beach Residence in the Marina. 2013