Crap – a Giant Field of Human Excrement Outside of Dubai

Richard Allenby-Pratt, UAE, Gulf, crap, human waste, compost, Beeah, Sharjah, waste management, field of human excrement, environment, consumerism, photography, eco-artEven though, perversely for a landscape photographer, I tend to seek out uglier-than-average places, this possibly wins the prize for one of the least glamorous locations I’ve photographed. It’s a very sizable field of human excrement on the road from Sharjah to Dhaid in the United Arab Emirates.

It’s part of the excellent work being done by Beeah, Sharjah’s award-winning waste management company. This drying field is one of the early stages in their process of converting sewage into valuable compost. The commodity is eventually resold into the local market at 11 Dirhams (or $3) a kilo. Not a bad price for a pile of ….

Note from the editor: this photograph is the second in a series called “Consumption” that seeks to document consumerism’s impact on the environment. From resource extraction and commodity production all the way down the supply chain to retail stores and waste processing facilities, Richard artfully examines what nature has come to mean in a world that depends on buying stuff.

About Richard Allenby Pratt

Richard is a British photographer living and working in Dubai, UAE. His concerns about the sustainability of the way we live and our economic systems only really became urgent after the birth of his son in 2008. As a landscape photographer he found the obvious way to express these concerns was by making photographs of the places impacted on by human activity, and particularly those places that best display the terrifying scale of our consumption. His basic method is to study google earth and then visit the most intriguing and inexplicable places thereby discovered.

7 thoughts on “Crap – a Giant Field of Human Excrement Outside of Dubai

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  2. Michael Lehner

    Thanks very much for the additional info. I have tried some composting and seen some large scale composting operations and it is very hard to avoid some odor. So I can imagine that a facemask would be highly recommended in this area.

    Keep up the good work, sir. I am interested in how we can process this sort of waste in a way that is beneficial to the planet. Your one picture evoked a lot of thought on my part.

  3. richard

    Hi Michael
    The Beeah waste management facility is on the Sharjah-Dhaid road, this area is out of sight, behind the old landfill hill. The smell is pretty ripe and the flies are quite bad. I wore a face mask, but the employees there told me they get used to it. If you drove past and the wind was blowing in the wrong direction you might find you want to put the roof up. Apparently, after drying, the sewage is mixed with organic matter, such as the municipal landscape grass cuttings, for maturing. I’m not sure if they use a burning process. In the drying field the sewage is spread out thinly. It’s piled high elsewhere for rotting down.
    Hope this is of help.

  4. Michael J Lehner

    That’s very interesting. I would love to learn more about why it is adjacent to the road, whether or not it has a strong smell, and how the composting process is accomplished. Do they have a machine to turn it? Do they add any other ingredients such as garbage?

    I was just wondering if I pulled the old convertible out, put the top down and drove past the place, what would I experience?

    How high do they pile it? Is it like a couple of metres deep? It’s sort of hard to tell much from the one shot of it.

    Thanks! This was interesting.


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