Dubai has developed into a vast theme park, where you can ski in the desert and swim with dolphins. Forever in search of illusions, we lose sight of reality. What does that do to your imagination? How many more malls, theme parks and hotels does a society need?” 

Nick Hannes

Emirati youths playing pool at Hub Zero, an entertainment facility and interactive computer gaming park

A large Christmas tree at the Cove Beach club at the Jumeirah Beach Hotel.

Saudi tourists drinking hot chocolate in the Chillout Ice Lounge

The rapid transformation of Dubai from a regional trade post in the sixties to the ultramodern metropolis of today, fascinates both supporters and critics. With its enormous shopping malls, artificial islands and iconic sky scrapers, the small emirate in the Persian Gulf is a world player in the field of tourism, real estate and business. But Dubai is also



a generic city: a city without historical layers, without character, without identity. The public domain is being privatised at a high pace, activities mainly take place in artificial indoor spaces such as malls, gated communities and amusement parks.  Success story or megalomania? In Garden of Delight, photographer Nick Hannes paints an

estranging and unsettling image of Dubai’s entertainment industry, its consumerism and market-driven urbanisation. His pictures showcase Dubai as the ultimate playground of globalisation and capitalism, and raise questions about authenticity and sustainability.

Visitors at the Global Village theme park

A champagne waiter welcomes guests to the Versailles Decadence Brunch

A Starbucks outlet in the 'Persia Court' at the Ibn Battuta Mall

People play on sleds at Ski Dubai, an indoor ski resort with 22,500 square metres of indoor ski area

A butler waits to serve wine at a prototype of the Floating Seahorse, an underwater holiday villa at The World, a manmade archipelago in the Persian Gulf. The villa features underwater bedrooms and bathrooms with floor-to-ceiling windows that allow for submarine views. 90 Floating Seahorses, costing €2.5 million each (GBP 2.16m), are planned.

It’s not about the market, it’s about what we can do to put Dubai on the map.  It’s all about building a brand.

Sultan Ahmed Bin Sulayem, Nakheel executive chairman, announcing the Universe, a series of man-made islands in the form of the sun, stars and planets of the solar system.

Construction workers near the artificial Dubai Water Canal

An advertisement billboard for El Beit, a TV show about values and traditions in the UAE

Asian migrant workers during a break from their work on the artificial Dubai Water Canal.

“How many stars? This hotel will be beyond stars.”

The Dynamic Group, developer of the Dynamic Tower, a proposed skyscraper with floors designed to rotate independently, resulting in a changing shape of the tower.

Equestrian statues at the entrance to the luxury Madinat Jumeirah Resort.

A member of staff lays a table at the Vanitas Restaurant at the Palazzo Versace Hotel.

A billboard showcasing a property to be constructed at 'The Heart of Europe', part of 'The World', an artificial archipelago of various small islands constructed in the rough shape of a world map, located in the waters of the Persian Gulf, four kilometres off the coast. The islands are composed mainly of sand dredged from Dubai's shallow coastal waters, and are one of several artificial island developments in Dubai.

The Emirates Golf Club which, when it was opened in 1988, was the first all grass championship golf course in the Middle East.

Scrub desert surrounds the houses at the gated residential development of Meydan South or Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum City.

A scale model of the Dubai Creek Harbour development

We will such the heat out of the sand to keep it cool enough to lie on.  This is the kind of luxury that top people want.

Soheil Abedian, president of Palazzo Versace Hotel, announcing the Refrigerated Beach, a stretch of beach provided with a network of cooling pipes beneath the sand.

A man wearing a suit sits among sunabthers in swimwear at the Cove Beach Club. The building behind is Jumeirah Beach Hotel.

What you see now is nothing compared to our vision.  It’s just a tiny part of what lies ahead.

Sheikh Mohammed

Dogs in a play area at Urban Tails Pet Resort which features Royal Suites with plasma televisions and webcams for €53 (GBP 45.90) per night.

A full moon yoga session at Fairmont The Palm hotel.