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Volume 20

Nomad - Fall 2018


Written by
Farid Alvie

Farid Alvie was born in Pakistan and grew up in the Middle East. His work has been part of group shows in Sharjah, Dubai, and Karachi. His written and photographic work has also appeared in a number of international publications including City of Sin and Splendor (Penguin Books), also published as Beloved City: Writings on Lahore (Oxford University Press); Karachitecture (Olive Books) and in news publications such as The Friday Times (Pakistan), The Wire (India), Himal (Nepal), Ishmael Reed’s Konch Magazine (USA), Zameen (UK), among others. He writes a monthly column for Dawn (Pakistan) entitled Cliftonia.


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Photo Essay: Al Rolla



Al Rolla in Sharjah, United Arab Emirates, has played host to traders and travellers for more than a century. Known for its bustling souqs, brimming with goods brought in from the Persian Gulf, South Asia, as well as the continent of Africa, this neighbourhood has epitomised the notion of ‘globalisation’ before the word acquired its current agency. With dhows — manned by multinational crews — bearing cargo from Arab, African, and Asian shores, this hectic bazaar continues to be sustained by a transient, international populace. Expatriate workers (and their families), like modern-day nomads, spend a few years here before moving on and exchanging geographies. They bring with them flavours, scents, and symbols of home, if even for a brief period. There is a continuous influx — visitors turn into residents who turn into travelers at a subsequent time — and a constant, seemingly never-ending stream of people. The demographics change; the neighbourhood flexes and alters shape, yet the impermanence of its residents remains its one permanent feature.

My work attempts to explore Al Rolla’s textured, nuanced, and fluid worlds that blend, cleave, and merge, like ripples on the surface of a timeless, serpentine river.

Al Rolla 1

Al Rolla 2 FA

Al Rolla 4 FA

Al Rolla 5 FA

Al Rolla 6 FA

Al Rolla 7 FA

Al Rolla 8 FA





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