I’m not concerned with the project of documenting these spaces and issues. Instead, I am amplifying them in large format to drive public debate about what is happening behind fences and walls.

 

I’m not concerned with the project of documenting these spaces and issues. Instead, I am amplifying them in large format to drive public debate about what is happening behind fences and walls.

Jalal BinThaneya is an industrial fine arts photographer based in Dubai. His large format compositions capture industrial facilities and cannibalized landscapes in the United Arab Emirates, exposing society’s all-encompassing reliance on oil and nature’s manipulation by human hands.

He is heavily influenced by a career in the engineering sector. Entirely self-taught, he refers to himself as “an accidental artist” because he unexpectedly fell into photography in 2013 while working at Dubai’s Jebel Ali Port. At that time, he watched in dismay as skilled workers began to demolish a historic 1970’s watchtower once used as a meeting place by the visionary Sheikh Rashid Al Maktoum. Instinctively, BinThaneya pulled his phone out of his pocket and began shooting hundreds of images of the tower in order to record, preserve, and even provoke debate about its existence and abrupt disappearance.

BinThaneya soon began negotiating access to abandoned or restricted industrial facilities around the UAE, taking large format photographs of machinery as if to question what might happen when the last drop of oil is squeezed out and the region runs dry. His work is not sentimental. If anything, it is controversial.

He is also a well-known activist who has completed multiple solo challenges to raise awareness and funds for people with disabilities. He has walked and cycled all 7 Emirates, ghostly industrial sites deep in the desert. These encounters with spaces that the public cannot access have shaped his practice.

BinThaneya’s photography has been shown in group exhibitions at Sharjah Art Foundation, The Empty Quarter Gallery, Tashkeel, Dubai Photo, and elsewhere. He is a 2018-2019 Critical Practices Artist at Tashkeel in Dubai, a residency offering studio space, critique and support for production, culminating in a lecture and exhibition.