Documenting Dubai’s Many Facets
An ode to the city
Sarah Ben Romdane
27-year-old Belgium photographer Lars Moereels started taking pictures as a kid, documenting his family trips using disposable cameras. As his passion for photography intensified, Moereels’ camera lens has led him on a journey exploring the multi-faceted reality of Dubai by documenting the diversity of its people and places.
“Despite what people might think, Dubai has a soul”, says Moereels, discussing the moments of freedom and warmth he was able to capture. While Dubai is often associated with an image of wealth, and opulence, the photographer was able to immerse himself in different environments that together, all define the indescribable energy of the eclectic capital. As he notes, “the rich locals and the poor migrant workers: they all share the same city. It’s the symbiosis of their souls that forms the spine of Dubai.”
While Moereels did capture the surreal skiing facilities and other famous Dubai landmarks, what really caught his attention was the neighbourhood of Bur Dubai, the historic district of the city. There, he was touched by the raw beauty of Dubai, the sense of community that stems from it and the authenticity of its inhabitants. Far from the luxurious attractions, he was able to find the magic in the ordinary.
“In Dubai, I realised that beauty overrules law”, he says referring to his striking picture of a woman taken from the back. Wearing a black abaya while swimming, her silhouette beautifully stands out from the otherworldliness of the landscape. “I was on the beach and surprisingly this elderly woman nodded at me, while she was going in the sea. I only had three exposures left. I spontaneously shot the picture, hurried to the local developing shop, and an hour later I had the picture. Until today it’s my favourite I’ve ever taken”.