British photographer Alex Atack, has spent most of his life in Dubai. With Under Construction, a series created over two years, he reveals the metropolis’ diversity, away from its emblematic urban landscapes.

Trained as a photojournalist, Alex Atack documents the world around him. Under Construction illustrates an ever growing Dubai, a city which keeps spreading. Yet, the emblematic skyscrapers are almost erased from the pictures. Alex uses the fast expansion to create a whole world into a city. “I grew up here, right in the middle of a boom period – the early 2000s – and I have these vivid memories of the city changing at this crazy rate. We would go back to the United Kingdom for 4 or 5 weeks, and by the time we would come back, entire neighbourhoods had changed”. As his job pushed him to drive around a lot within the city, he started documenting this turmoil. Whether he photographs with a Mamiya or an iPhone, Alex captures ephemeral details, quickly erased by time. He has to be quick, “to shoot the landscape before it changed”.

A familiar wandering

Immersed into this pace since his childhood, Alex’s vision of the city is that of a connoisseur. Away from the gigantic buildings attracting crowds of tourists, he delivers an intimate depiction of Dubai. “Cities tell stories about themselves, don’t they? Dubai’s story is about this multicultural melting pot where business and commerce and shopping and skyscrapers are everything, a world for billionaires”, explains Alex. Under Construction ventures into lesser known parts of the city. Into the diversity of an ordinary life, well hidden by the ostentatious luxury. His photographs reveal the calm of a football field, soon to be replaced by offices, or the serenity of a man, praying by the side of the road while his mosque is being rebuilt. “A pretty extraordinary landscape (…), my home, for better of for worse”, Alex concludes.


© Alex Atack