June 11, 2013
Over the last two decades, the vast skyscrapers of Dubai emerged from the deserts of the UAE, transforming the city from a sleepy town to a booming metropolis virtually overnight. With an influx of money from oil profits, the city doubled its population and witnessed an exponential spike in new construction, becoming an architectural playground for some of the world’s most high profile architects. While Dubai was hit exceptionally hard by the 2007-2008 world financial crisis, construction in the city continues to boom, even with reports of high vacancies in exorbitantly expensive and tall towers like the Burj Khalifa.
With his camera in hand, Berlin-based photographer Matthias Heiderich took to the streets of Dubai to capture the eerie emptiness that currently plagues the ample new real estate sites in the city. Heiderich’s photographs are saturated in rich pastel colors, while simultaneously appearing somewhat faded, as though weathered from the city’s harsh desert environment. Looking past Heiderich’s entrancing aesthetic, one thing stands out about each of these photos: There are no people in any of them. The energy and movement that breathes life into a bustling city are totally absent in these scenes. The opulence of the new towers stands in stark contrast to the vacant streets below, creating an unnerving tension that speaks of the extensive contradictions in how Dubai is portrayed to the rest of the world. Click through to see them all!