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Dubai is often glamorized in the media, portrayed as an isolated tourist destination full of rich people and material wonders. However, Dubai is a city that is more than money. Its primary source of income is not oil and not everyone here is rich. The city is the most cosmopolitan in the world with people from various backgrounds and classes who have their own stories to tell.

In this documentary, videographer Nithisha Nantha Kumar (a Dubai resident and international student at the University of Michigan) reflects on her personal experiences of being stereotyped as a wealthy person from Dubai by her American peers. This documentary explores why is Dubai constantly glamorized in the media and advocates for more diverse representations of Dubai in the media by humanizing the region with stories of actual people who live in the city rather than only those about material wealth.

Sources for further reading:

Toward a Cinema of Contact Zones, Dale Hudson, 2020

“The mall isn’t authentic!”: Dubai’s Creative Class And The Construction of Social Distinction, Rana AlMutawa, 2019

“Glitzy” Malls and Coffee Shops: Everyday Places of Belonging and Social Contestation in Dubai, Rana AlMutawa, 2020

Migrant Images, Bindu Menon, 2021

Media’s Representation of Places

Summer Managing Video Editor Nithisha Nantha Kumar can be reached at nithisha@umich.edu.