Thursday, April 8, 2010

ISTABSIR: AL SATWA

ISTABSIR is a photo column that runs weekly in The National. The title is derived from an Arabic verb which means to attentively reflect on and contemplate with respectful consideration. Unlike most photo columns The National runs a photo essay per column. Each Sunday, the series receives an entire page (w/o ads) in the news section of our publication.


*You can view more images from this ongoing essay at my website. 



AL SATWA: IN A CHANGED WORLD
IMAGES & TEXT BY: RICH-JOSEPH FACUN
Reflections about the current status of Dubai’s historic community “Al Satwa,” can be found scribed on the walls of alleyways and abandoned villas. Silent messages spray painted in graffiti along textured sand toned walls elicit a running commentary. One anonymous voice summarizes what many residents may in fact already be feeling as towering developments encroach into their backyards, "Satwa is in a changed world."  
Empty lots and skeletal remains of old villas weave throughout the streets of Satwa intertwining with meticulously manicured homes creating a stark contrast of one another. A constant visual reminder of both the past and future for those who still reside within this prime real estate property slated to be razed. Despite the undeniable demise of the community “to let” signs remain abundant. In Satwa multiple fliers posted on the spaces of both local grocery store bulletin boards and street posts create a collage of names and numbers. 
Despite the fact that many new arrivals to Satwa are simply seeking affordable accommodations the story is not the same for other community members. Many of these residents are from a long lineage of families that stretch back for decades. Satwa's residents include Emiratis from the Bloushi tribe who have been there for many decades, Iranians who have been in the Emirates for over 60 years, and migrant workers mostly from South Asia.
Eventually, this area of several square kilometers between Sheikh Zayed Road and Satwa Road will be cleared of all old houses making way for “Jumeirah Garden City.”  In the meantime the charming quiet nature of Al Satwa will remain a present reminder of Dubai’s yesteryears where life was rooted in a sublime simplicity.  When asked what he will do if his home is razed, Obeid Jamil Mabrouk, a resident of Al Satwa for 37 years, said "No matter if they break it down we'll still be here." 




4 comments:

Noah Devereaux said...

I really dig how it all comes together on the page. Each photo on its own doesn't really speak much to me but put together I can get a feel what this old neighborhood on the edge of the gleaming city is like.

RICH-JOSEPH FACUN said...

Thanks Noah. I definitely think the design complements the work and pulls it all together into a cohesive vision. I actually had a sketch of the page design in my notebook and was shooting with this intention. I'm fortunate that the designer was willing to work with me on the final presentation.

Nolan said...

wow, good newspaper design is alive and well. cool series....

RICH-JOSEPH FACUN said...

Thanks. We're very fortunate to have the space to run these types of series. Glad you enjoyed the work. I ended up shooting six months of content for the photo column. I'll post more once I get a chance. Cheers and thanks for looking.