When strangers to the city think of Dubai, they often fall into the trap of picturing rows and rows of glittering skyscrapers and mammoth malls. Of course, we’ve got those, but it’s the old parts of the emirate that most consider to be the real Dubai. And that’s exactly how UAE photographer and filmmaker Ekta Saran feels.
Last year, she embarked upon a project she has since called Chasing Bur Dubai.
“I always spend a lot of my free time walking about, photographing and exploring Old Dubai,” she says. “When work isn’t taking over my life, I’m usually there a couple of times a week.”
Fed up with seeing so much media focus on the new parts of town, Saran decided to preserve the older side of the city through a series of photographs and films. Chasing Bur Dubai tells the “stories of the residents who have lived in Bur Dubai for decades and call it home away from home”.
This lead image, pictured right, Saran says, is “a lone man near the Bur Dubai Creek at sunset”. Since she was born in Abu Dhabi and grew up in the UAE, Saran was drawn to this project. “A lot of my childhood memories are attached to Bur Dubai, so there was a natural pull towards the area.”
Here, Saran talks us through three more of her iconic snaps. To view these and more photographs from the Chasing Bur Dubai project, visit Saran’s website, www.chasingburdubai.com.
Three to see in the artist’s own words
As well as taking photos, Saran has made short films about some of Bur Dubai’s residents. She’s done two so far – the first featuring Arun Bhai, owner of a hairdressing salon, the second of Intesar Salim (pictured above), owner of a music shop.
Saran discovered “stories behind every nook and corner”. The picture above, she says, is “One of the oldest and my favourite buildings in Bur Dubai. The architecture of the structure has always fascinated me and I’ve photographed it several times.”
Making this project, Saran’s befriended everyone from small business owners to “the kids who play cricket in an alley”. Pictured above is “Nour, a baker from Afghanistan. He works at a small bakery in one of the inner lanes
of Bur Dubai.”