The Travel Diary: Discovering Dubai's hidden beauty

The Travel Diary: Discovering Dubai's hidden beauty

What you see along the way — Dubai may be a hotbed of greed and excess, but photographer Sebastian Gansrigler finds honesty in corners of the city-state you won't see on the postcards.

Selfie obsessed tourists dance in front of Burj Khalifa, camel traders ride through hot sand storms, oil thieves stalk lifelessly through the shopping palaces. The Sheikhs bask in their power. Burkas move elegantly in the desert wind.

Dubai is the ultimate playground of excess, a land of the endless riches, greed and gluttony. Artificial, but not artistic, and built out of nothing. A construct of a luxurious sand metropolis, Dubai is almost a mistake of nature, excessive material fatigue, a contrasting fascination.

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Its modernisation in the second half of the 20th century has helped Dubai to position itself as one of the fastest growing cities in the world. It is said that up to 20% of the cranes in the world were once in the city. Today she has 2.7 million inhabitants, and Dubai has no shame in its ambition, its obsession even, with creating the largest and most luxurious artificial structures on earth.

In 1990 there was only one skyscraper in Dubai, now there are over 400. The Burj Khalifa is the tallest building in the world, with 163 floors standing proud at 828 metres. Measuring up at 1.1 million square metres, the Dubai Mall is the largest shopping centre in the world. The Dubai Metro is the longest automated metro network in the world. At the same time, Dubai is one of the safest places – the crime rate is virtually zero in the entire city.

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A slightly other-worldly place, the city looks like a sci-fi movie, often empty, too clean and isolated. But in spite of all the absurdity, somewhere between innumerable sand dunes and monuments, one can find kind, intimate moments and rare scenes of humanity.

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Check out more of Sebastian’s work on his website

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