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December 2009
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A thing of beauty is a joy forever

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Dubai’s Improbable Tale

They journeyed to the desert emirate of Dubai by the tens of thousands. Laborers from small towns on the Indian subcontinent and white-collar executives from the capitals of Europe. They came seeking fortune, and they built a modern city unlike any the world had ever seen: a city with the world’s largest tower, an indoor ski slope and a honeymoon suite with a live whale shark in the window.

A city where anything was possible. Sand too hot? Then build a beach with underground refrigeration.

“I call the story an improbable fairy tale,” Ms. Greenfield said. “Anything that could be fantasized could be built. It really was the land of opportunity. It’s more Las Vegas than Las Vegas.”

At first glance, Dubai might seem an odd place to find Ms. Greenfield. She is best known for powerful photographs and films that explore the corrosive effect of modern consumer culture on American teenage girls, and also for her disquieting images of women with eating disorders.

But Dubai offered Ms. Greenfield, 43, the opportunity to further explore wealth and the effects of unbridled materialism. So after several months of research, she spent two weeks photographing there.

“Dubai is a cautionary tale in the same way as the foreclosure crisis — which I photographed — was,” Ms. Greenfield said last weekend, as the financial crisis in Dubai unfolded. “Dubai was this miracle of development with minimal planning and no infrastructure.”

Burj Dubai, the world’s tallest skyscraper, is still under construction, overlooking artificial islands shaped like palm trees. The tower is a useful symbol for considering Dubai. Is it the Tower of Babel? Is it Icarus, flying too close to the sun? It’s unclear whether this crisis will simply be a pause in Dubai’s ascent or whether Dubai’s story will itself become a cautionary tale of mythical dimensions.

taken from : http://lens.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/11/30/showcase-85/?hp

see pictures here

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