Photobook of Dubai  
 
28 February 2019
Dedicated to my loving wife Lila


Dubai is a phenomenon. As one pages through G√ľnther Komnick‚Äôs vivid portrayal, one sees the evidence of a thriving, glittering metropolis booming in the merciless desert. This city seems at first much like a toy building set, hewn out of nothingness. Yet every place has a history, even a thriving commercial and aviation hub such as Dubai, where very little seems to reflect a history of any kind. However, human settlement in the area can be traced as far back as primordial times, or more recently to 3000 years ago.
    The Dubai we see today is the product of a vision, a vision inspired by Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan who is considered to be the proverbial father of the nation, of the United Arab Emirates, of which Dubai is the centre of the country‚Äôs entrepreneurial impetus. While Dubai is said to have the seventh largest reserves of crude oil, pearl diving was until the first half of the last century a major income earner for the Emirates designated as a Federal Absolute Monarchy. The invention of cultured pearls, the Great Depression of 1929 and the two world wars put an end to this lucrative trade. The Emirates (also known in years gone by as the Trucial Kingdoms) enjoyed British protection in exchange for commercial privileges, until December 1971 when Britain ended its role as protector under a Labour government. The ending of the treaty was subsequently endorsed by the Conservative Government.
     Dubai is wedged in a very volatile neck of the woods, caught between major powers in the region such as Iran, being as it is in a part of the world wracked by sectarian violence. With this legacy, the "miracle‚ÄĚ of Dubai seems all the more astounding. It is understandable that with a sparse water supply and a single-commodity economy, something needed to be done to make the Emirates, and by extension Dubai, viable in the world, relying less on oil and regional trade. In this regard Dubai and the Emirates have triumphed. However, as the term "Federal Absolute Monarchy‚ÄĚ implies, other aspects of life in Dubai belie the ultramodern and progressive fa√ßade. With all the technological and architectural innovations which abound and which are illustrated in this photographic study, human rights have not enjoyed much progress, as evinced by regular Amnesty International reports.

Dr Wilhelm Snyman, Auckland, New Zealand, 2019