“Growing up in Dubai, my parents would take me and my siblings to the UK over the summer holidays. Arriving back to the UAE after five or six weeks away, we’d look out of the window of the car on the way home from the airport and point out all of the things that had changed in the time we’d been gone; a new skyscraper would’ve started construction on what used to be an empty sandlot, or a complex of villas had been flattened to make way for a hotel, or what used to be small roundabout was now on its way to becoming a spaghetti junction,” says British photojournalist Alex Atack, the man behind this beautiful series, Under Construction.
These beautiful images, laced with a little melancholy, certainly show a landscape under constant change, but they also reveal Alex’s love for a place that he called home during his childhood. After graduating from Falmouth University in 2014, Alex moved back to the UAE, where he worked as a freelancer, shooting news, editorial and travel work around the Middle East and Asia. Under Construction is a series of images shot from that time before he moved back to his home country in 2016. His project is about half-built spaces and looks at how Dubai’s residents live amongst them.
He further recalls: “We’d play football in Safa Park – a huge green space with fairground rides, ice cream stands and cafes. Then two years ago, they dug a canal right through the middle of it, bulldozing half of the park and circling a section of downtown Dubai to turn it into an island. The city changed so quickly, and it wasn’t sentimental about what it got rid of. And this is what Dubai has become known for; these construction projects are what you see on travel brochures and TV shows around the world.
“They’ve had to keep up this rate of construction to mirror the city’s transient, expanding population. But because of it, residents live amongst an unusual landscape – a pattern of urban decay means that the peripheries of the city resemble a graveyard of half-funded construction projects. And in the city centres, the land is constantly re-purposed for new construction ventures, meaning that the face of the city changes almost literally overnight.”
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