The Photographic Journal

Mirage City

Essay 445 • May 25th 2020

In just 50 years, Dubai has risen from the desert with colossal ambition. From a small fishing port to an expanded creek to the ever-growing urban clusters of gleaming towers today. The skyline appears in the morning like a mirage in a UV miasma. Still there is rapid expansion with a daily flurry of vaulting cranes and armies of workers. How is all this possible? How is this city expanding across the Sahara instead of burning away? The mirage-like impossibility of Dubai is part of the attraction, and many places in Dubai seem to defy probability and prudence. Using a specially converted camera I set out to photograph in infrared some of the wild ambition, simulation and allure of this strange city risen out of hot sand.


Jonathan Beamish is an Irish photographer and filmmaker based in London. His work has been published by The Times, The Independent, BBC in Pictures and showcased by Lens culture, Life framer and the World Photography Awards.
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