“Arabian Transfer” spotlights the transitory condition of six cities of the Arab Peninsula – Abu Dhabi, Doha, Dubai, Kuwait City, Manama and Riyadh – presenting them as landing places for people and cultures. “Arabia” has historically been a mythical place for the Western imagination, a place of exchange with the East. But in the past decades, these places have emerged as new global epicentres, made possible by the hypermobility of people, images, goods and finances. Largely inhabited (and built) by immigrants from around the world, they exist as living laboratories in which local identity aspirations are confronted with Western models, and the inhabitants’ cultural cleavages.
These photographs were conceived between 2010 and 2017 alongside research on architecture. I tried to detach myself from the sublime and grotesque tone which photography utilises to emphasise the most spectacular aspects of these landscapes, but I also sought to give meaning to the abstract and formal imaginary of the new skylines – which remain in the background as the New York captured by Dos Passos, to which the title refers.
I favoured a more intimate and direct relationship with the cities and their inhabitants by spending a lot of time in the streets and urban spaces, without concealing the difficulty of urban conditions. Through the everydayness of habits, movements and faces, I have tried to bring out a sense of presence, showing how these cities are spaces in which people live and where, despite the extreme and paradoxical forms that characterise them, it is possible to recognise the contemporary global condition of which we are also part.