Altamash Javed is a Pakistani entrepreneur based in Dubai who’s made it his goal this year to pursue photography full time. Citing exploration and travel as two of his biggest passions, he recently embarked on creating a series of images about abandoned locations right in his backyard in the United Arab Emirates.

What sparked your interest about abandoned locations?

A friend of mine started a hashtag called #ThatAbandonedVibe while he was visiting Lebanon where many interesting abandoned structures can be found. We decided to use it and start exploring the UAE with an abandoned theme in mind. From incomplete construction projects to housing communities (that had been abandoned so long that dunes started to cover them), theme parks to planes, we explored it all.

As photographers and visual artists, we always think the story behind these places is important. It’s the curiosity within us that leads us to explore abandoned places, see why or how it was abandoned and how the subject has changed over time. And of course, try to make some remarkable imagery out of them.

What’s your all-time favorite location you’ve discovered so far?
My favorite spot is the abandoned Russian plane (Ilyushin IL-76) that can be found in the Emirate of Umm al Quwain. I won’t go too much detail, but let’s just say the movie Lord of War was inspired by the story behind this plane.

Could you tell us more about some of your favorite images you’ve created so far?

This was once a very popular theme park in Dubai. We learned there was an accident that occurred there that shut down the park. This park will be demolished soon to make way for a new one so we wanted to document it as much as possible before it was gone. This was once a stage for performances.
This was once a very popular theme park in Dubai. We learned there was an accident there that shut down the park. This park will be demolished soon to make way for a new one, so we wanted to document it as much as possible before it was gone. This was once a stage for performances.
That's my friend Rami sitting on top of the famous Ilyushin cargo plane. He is the one behind the hashtag #ThatAbandonedVibe.
This is my friend Rami sitting on top of the famous Ilyushin cargo plane. He is the one behind the hashtag #ThatAbandonedVibe.
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We discovered an abandoned housing community that is slowly being retaken by the desert. These houses are getting filled with sand and becoming proper dune formations now. We still have not found out why it was abandoned. The community harbored around 30 homes and a mosque. It wouldn’t surprise me if the entire place was buried in sand by our next visit.
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We usually end up going to abandoned construction sites but this one was a treat. At first we thought it was just another incomplete project, but after closer inspection, we discovered that people once lived here. It has been abandoned for so long that nature has been reclaiming the land, there are literally sand dunes inside these homes. It’s amazing how much there is to see in a country we thought we knew so well.
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There are plenty of construction sites in Dubai that had to grind to a halt during the financial crises. This is the basement of a five star hotel. My friends are standing inside what I would guess is the elevator shaft. It’s dark and grey down there, so we decided to add some color to the place.
We had a buddy come down from New York who was dying to see this legendary abandoned Russian plane. The Dubai instagram community is one of the best in the world if I must say so myself, always taking our guests to the most interesting places.
We had a buddy come down from New York who was dying to see this legendary abandoned Russian plane. The Dubai Instagram community is one of the best in the world, if I must say so myself — always taking our guests to the most interesting places.
Tail of Ilyushin IL-76
Tail of Ilyushin IL-76
I went to the famous Ilyushin with my good friends Jumana and Yasmeen for the first time. The plane's doors are wide open, but quite high. We walked around the perimeter and dragged a ladder to get into the plane. Jumana loves heights, so it was obvious she would end up on this plane's roof.
I went to the famous Ilyushin with my good friends Jumana and Yasmeen for the first time. The plane’s doors are wide open, but quite high. We walked around the perimeter and dragged a ladder to get into the plane. Jumana loves heights, so it was obvious she would end up on this plane’s roof.
The Ilyushin IL-76 plane wreck was owned by an arms dealer that would transport arms to Africa and is now apparently spending jail time in the US. When you are in this plane, you can feel a strange vibe as you ponder how many stories this hull holds. The movie Lord of War was inspired by the gentlemen who owned or chartered this plane.
The Ilyushin IL-76 plane wreck was owned by an arms dealer that would transport arms to Africa and is now apparently spending jail time in the US.
Cockpit of the plane. When you are in this plane, you can feel a strange vibe as you ponder how many stories this hull holds. The movie Lord of War was inspired by the gentlemen who owned or chartered this plane.
Cockpit of the plane. When you are in this plane, you can feel a strange vibe as you ponder how many stories this hull holds. The movie Lord of War was inspired by the gentlemen who owned or chartered this plane.
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I'm a 31 year old Pakistani expat based in Dubai. Photography is one of my biggest passions as it links into my other big passions, to travel and experience this amazing world. Other than that, I love to read and learn about history. See more on his Website, , Twitter,and Instagram.