A first interview with the instigator of ‘Goodbye Old Jumeirah’, the yet anonymous Instagram page dedicated to documenting and archiving the demolition and abandonment of traditional homes in the neighborhood of Jumeirah. Since July of 2021, the account has been publishing photos showing the unseen interiors of half-demolished houses, some still bearing their original furnishings, and some with graffiti-adorned walls, as temporary canvases for the imaginative musings of passersby in the area.
Could you tell us how this project started? Was it a natural process of exploring the area?
The project started in July 2021, when I was exploring the neighbors’ house as it was in the process of being demolished. I was specifically concerned about preserving the trees in the house. I managed to take the smaller ones out and replant them at my house, but they didn’t make it, which made me super sad. At that moment I realized ‘you know what? I will just start archiving those houses and trees to give or keep memories of the area, specifically in Jumeirah.’ That’s how I started the Goodbye Old Jumeirah account.
Why was it important that you documented these disappearing spaces?
It is important for me on a personal level, as well as community level, to document those disappearing spaces and to capture the details of those homes and gardens, and what they once were. Especially because Jumeirah is constantly changing and developing. As I started exploring this project I noticed tens of houses being demolished around the area.
You have a personal connection to the area, so can you tell me more about its history?
I do have a connection to the area. As a child I grew up in Jumeirah, and the home I grew up in was demolished because of the construction of the Water Canal. So, capturing those homes before they are gone is actually a healing process; celebrating what remains, and knowing there are second chances for homes or development in those locations. Also, I am currently living in a renovated traditional Emirati house, which does add to my research project, knowing how functional those houses are/were for the area with the architecture and placement of those homes.
There's an appreciation of language, especially these evocative bits of leftover graffiti- Why did you decide to show these in the photos?
Without a little noise (the graffiti), there is no awareness. To me those graffitied words represent the houses, or the areas, and what they once were. Keep in mind that all the graffiti is being demolished along with the houses, or will be demolished soon.
Do you have a favorite image from the project?
‘Invest in Culture,’ is my favorite, because it says exactly what this project is about in a small, simple sentence.
What's next for you?
Hopefully the people in the community join me in archiving those houses, or even sharing old albums of the areas of the homes that no longer exist.