Jetsetters know the business capitals of countries like their own backyards. But often, a city hides more than it reveals. This photographer seeks high vantage points to witness the most popular metropolises in Asia, the UAE, and Europe, and capture their essence. Text and photographs by Ajay Sood
Looking at global metropolises from a vantage point
As a travel photographer, I soak in a lot during my trips, as does my camera. While the business capitals of countries exhibit ample similarities, each one has a distinct look and feel that cannot be replicated anywhere else in the world.
For instance, Dubai can never match the trademark skyline of Manhattan, New York, no matter how many skyscrapers it builds. When you stand on the 102nd-floor observation deck of the Empire State Building, a vast verdant stretch of Central Park opens up beyond that glitzy skyline and you realise NYC is so much more than its highrises. Meanwhile, Dubai, when seen from At The Top, an outdoor observation deck on the 124th floor of Burj Khalifa, betrays the sandy patches of its undeveloped real estate. To some, of course, that’s part of the city’s charm. It’s an oasis of luxury in the middle of a hostile landscape.
Strapped for space, NYC continues to startle with additions like the expanding spiral of the Guggenheim, now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Whereas Dubai has reclaimed miles of land from the Persian Gulf and has turned them into marvels of architecture, which look even more surreal when seen from an aerial point-of-view.
Paris, meanwhile, has taken pains to preserve its pre-WWII renaissance character, thus turning into a museum of a city. It’s no wonder then that it continues to attract romantics to its cafes, bookstores, galleries, and cathedrals. Another European hub, Rotterdam, used the ravages of the same war as an opportunity to evolve as the foremost global showcase of post-modern architecture.
Singapore is a city-state that runs like clockwork and draws MICE travellers from the rest of Asia without effort. But it also pulls rabbits out of its hat as a routine. The Lion City’s skyline continues to evolve decade after decade. Be it the quirky silhouette of Marina Bay Sands Singapore, or the giant Singapore Flyer, or the technicolour lights of Gardens By The Bay, the city-state pulls no punches in its leisure offerings as well.
On your next trip, spare a moment, preferably at a high vantage point, to take in the contours of the city. It is sure to surprise you.