The Sand Lords of Dubai
As the working day comes to an end, workers in Dubai congregate to enjoy a bout of wrestling in the sand.
Imran Ahmed came to the UAE in 1976 in his early teens from Bangladesh. His interest in photography began to take a serious turn in early 2009, when he took to taking photos of life on the creek, the historic open harbor area in Deira, Dubai.
Eighteen months later this led to a book titled Dubai Creek, depicting the bustling commercial activity on one of the busiest part of this water inlet that once was the city’s economic lifeline.
Every Friday, the day of rest in the Muslim world, under the late afternoon sun, men from across the Indian sub-continent gather at a field of sand near the fish market in Deira, Dubai.
Mostly day laborers, taxi drivers or dock workers, they are part of the 7.3 million foreigners (5.7 million of them male) living in the United Arab Emirates – nearly eight times as many as the native population of 950,000.
They come to socialize with their compatriots, sometimes to play a game of cricket, but especially to enjoy a bout of wrestling, popularly known as kushti.
For a few hours, these “sand lords” are celebrities for the transient community assembled by Dubai’s construction boom. They flex their muscles for fun, entertaining and performing as much as fighting.
Text and photographs by Imran Ahmed
The Other Hundred is a unique photo-book project (order here) aimed as a counterpoint to the Forbes 100 and other media rich lists by telling the stories of people around the world who are not rich but who deserve to be celebrated.
Its 100 photo-stories move beyond the stereotypes and cliches that fill so much of the world’s media to explore the lives of people whose aspirations and achievements are at least as noteworthy as any member of the world’s richest 1,000.