Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates, holds more than 28 world records. It hosts the world's most expensive hotel, its largest theme park, and biggest book—weighing in at 1,000 kilos. Its epic city skyline and mega-shopping centers are known around the world. Dubai is the most expensive place to live in the Middle East.
Although he's now based in Berlin, street and fashion photographer Lars Moereels is tied to the UAE through family, and he travels back there at least twice a year. For him, neither Abu Dhabi nor Dubai is about the grandeur.
Moereels's photos capture moments of stillness in these fast-paced cities: a voyeurism that tends toward the tender nature of everyday life on the streets of the Abu Dhabi and Dubai. Far from the booming wealth and opulence these places are known for.
These cities have an eerie beauty: construction sites abandoned halfway through a build, laborers basking in quiet moments at the beach, and the sometimes brutal reality of people trying to carve a life out of the Arabian desert.
See more of Moereels's work on his website.
Lars was interviewed by Alexandra Manatakis. Follow her on Twitter.
This article originally appeared on VICE US.