Friday, 7 August 2009

Postcards from Dubai

Dubai_0045My usual business trip photographic victim, Angie, is on maternity leave, so on a recent trip to Dubai, had to make do with Ian. This is the lobby of Pacific Controls, our host for the trip. Their headquarters is a bespoke building that is the first Platinum Green building in the UAE, and only the 16th such building in the world. It’s hard to imagine how these glass walls can holdback the raw heat of the desert, but they did the trick.

That evening, we presented our product to some interested parties in nearby Abu Dhabi. Ian and I have our set-up down pat, so I had lots of time to take more shots. I imposed myself on the staff of Arasca, the company who organized the meeting. Both Pacific Controls and Arasca were consummate hosts, including patronizing my photography habit.

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I was able to take advantage of a gap in my travel schedule to spend a day touring Dubai. My driver and guide was Talib Hussein. After 18 years with the Dubai police in the Traffic Patrol Section, he knows the city well. Talib Hussein thought that the man-made island(s) of Palm Jumeirah would be the best place to shoot a sunrise. We went to the edge of the top curl, looking back on Burj Al Arab, a 7-star hotel. The true size of this hotel cannot be appreciated in a photograph. I was about 3.5 km away when I took this shot before the sun came over the horizon. The "fog" is actually dust from a storm that blew in from the Iraqi desert.

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When the sun finally appeared, the dust turned a nice golden hue. The hotel is truly massive and it dwarfs the Jumeirah Beach Hotel next to it.

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After a few shots of the hotel, I made a couple of frames of Talib Hussein with the hotel as a backdrop.

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After a quick breakfast with Ian, who opted to sleep instead of watch the sun come up, we headed down to “creek side”. The Creek is where Dubai was founded. We circled around for a quick visit to a couple of mosques.

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Then it was on to see several of the markets, or “souks”. Small alleyways crammed with goods for sale seem to define markets the world over, and the Spice Souk, Gold Souk, and the Fish Market in Dubai are no exception. Many brands are present. Even Walt Disney does business in the Spice Souk.

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The fish market was the busiest and nosiest market; all the fishmongers were shouting at both passers-by and at each other. One stopped me and asked for me to take his picture. That drew an immediate rebuttal from his neighbor, who insisted I also take his picture.

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I had a tour of some of the older establishments, such as the Dubai Museum and the Old Souk, where we munched on some traditional Arab fare cooked by a woman in traditional garb.

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With the setting sun came a tour of a couple of the famous Dubai malls, including the Dubai Mail where I snapped Burj Dubai. Modern Dubai looks nothing like old Dubai, and my original shot looked out of place with the other shots I took, so I processed this one to look like a worn, old-fashioned postcard. The original is at the bottom of this post for comparison.

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This quick tour of the city lays good groundwork for me to do a more in-depth study at some point in the future. It would be nice to also spend more time in Abu Dhabi and compare the two cities.

Normally I embed a slide show of my Postcards, but Flickr is blocked in the UAE, so for my new friends there I have posted the rest of my shots below. For those with full access to Flickr, all of my photos there are geo-tagged, meaning you can see where the photos were taken. Click on a photo to go to Flickr. In the lower right hand side of the Flickr page, you can see the location of each shot, and click "map" to see a map:

FlickrMap



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