Empire state of mind by Delores Johnson



Hamdan Street in UAE has some parallels to New York's crossroads of the world.

Earlier this year, Delores Johnson, a staff photographer at The National, was driving along Hamdan Bin Mohammed Street (more commonly known to Abu Dhabi residents simply as Hamdan Street) when an idea lodged in her mind and steadfastly refused to shift.

“I looked around and thought this reminds me of Times Square in New York,” she says. Hamdan Street’s neon lights, its lively pedestrian-packed streets and, above all, its incessant movement in the hours after darkness, drew her towards this conclusion.

Over the following weeks, Johnson set out to see if this observation stood up to scrutiny. New York is a city of perpetual motion where great dramas unravel every day, she says, and it is this thought that provides the strongest connection with this single street in Abu Dhabi.

“Hamdan Street has an identity all of its own in Abu Dhabi. It comes alive in the evening, and especially at the weekend. It becomes a movie set where people sit and watch other people’s lives unfold.

“Everything happens there. It has drama in a city where there is no drama,” she says, referencing Abu Dhabi’s statistically low crime rate and the ordered ebb and flow of the city’s pedestrians moving from point to point.

You can see that drama in her set of pictures, complete with their symphony of people and cars, of streaming headlamps and yellow cab lights, and of the dignified hopes and quiet aspirations that pulsate from her images.

Here is a city of lights with Johnson’s lens capturing the ceaseless murmur of street life, just as you might encounter in Times Square, New York.

But there is also something so typically Abu Dhabi at work here too: from the adverts for partitioned rooms pinned to street furniture, to the predominantly male subjects frozen in time in their untucked, smartly pressed shirts and crisp jeans; from the combination of three unconnected words that form the glowing shop front of the “National Future Video” store to the collection of sages perched on a bench outside a clothes shop engaged in an animated, free-ranging and lengthy discussion.

If Times Square provided the jumping-off point for this photo essay on urban exploration, Abu Dhabi gave up its energy and, crucially, fills Johnson, an American expatriate, with a sense of the familiar. “I love being in Abu Dhabi and I feel at home on Hamdan Street. “I like that I can stroll at night. You are surrounded by people but you are always safe. I like that people are so friendly and are happy to talk,” she says.

And what will she take on next? “I love street photography. I never know what is going to inspire me or where it is going to take me until that shutter clicks.”

* Delores was talking to Nick March, editor of The Review.

COMPANY PROFILE

Name: SmartCrowd
Started: 2018
Founder: Siddiq Farid and Musfique Ahmed
Based: Dubai
Sector: FinTech / PropTech
Initial investment: $650,000
Current number of staff: 35
Investment stage: Series A
Investors: Various institutional investors and notable angel investors (500 MENA, Shurooq, Mada, Seedstar, Tricap)

The specs

Engine: Twin-turbo, V8
Transmission: 8-speed automatic and manual
Power: 503 bhp
Torque: 513Nm
Price: from Dh646,800 ($176,095)
On sale: now

WHAT IS A BLACK HOLE?

1. Black holes are objects whose gravity is so strong not even light can escape their pull

2. They can be created when massive stars collapse under their own weight

3. Large black holes can also be formed when smaller ones collide and merge

4. The biggest black holes lurk at the centre of many galaxies, including our own

5. Astronomers believe that when the universe was very young, black holes affected how galaxies formed

RESULTS

5pm: Rated Conditions (PA) Dh85,000 (Turf) 1,600m
Winner: AF Mouthirah, Tadhg O’Shea (jockey), Ernst Oertel (trainer)

5.30pm: Maiden (PA) Dh80,000 (T) 1,400m
Winner: AF Alajaj, Tadhg O’Shea, Ernst Oertel

6pm: Wathba Stallions Cup Handicap (PA) Dh70,000 (T) 1,400m
Winner: Hawafez, Connor Beasley, Abubakar Daud

6.30pm: Maiden (PA) Dh80,000 (T) 2,200m
Winner: Tair, Fabrice Veron, Eric Lemartinel

7pm: Handicap (PA) Dh80,000 (T) 2,200m
Winner: Wakeel W’Rsan, Richard Mullen, Jaci Wickham

7.30pm: Handicap (PA) Dh100,000 (T) 2,400m
Winner: Son Of Normandy, Fernando Jara, Ahmad bin Harmash

Stamp duty timeline

December 2014: Former UK chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne reforms stamp duty land tax (SDLT), replacing the slab system with a blended rate scheme, with the top rate increasing to 12 per cent from 10 per cent:

Up to £125,000 – 0%; £125,000 to £250,000 – 2%; £250,000 to £925,000 – 5%; £925,000 to £1.5m: 10%; More than £1.5m – 12%

April 2016: New 3% surcharge applied to any buy-to-let properties or additional homes purchased.

July 2020: Chancellor Rishi Sunak unveils SDLT holiday, with no tax to pay on the first £500,000, with buyers saving up to £15,000.

March 2021: Mr Sunak extends the SDLT holiday at his March 3 budget until the end of June.

April 2021: 2% SDLT surcharge added to property transactions made by overseas buyers.

June 2021: SDLT holiday on transactions up to £500,000 expires on June 30.

July 2021: Tax break on transactions between £125,000 to £250,000 starts on July 1 and runs until September 30.

PRISCILLA

Director: Sofia Coppola

Starring: Cailee Spaeny, Jacob Elordi

Rating: 3/5


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