Jonas Bendiksen | Far From Home

Country of origin: Norway
Project location: Arab Gulf
Program: Magnum Foundation Fund
Year: 2011

This story explores the world of guest workers in the Arab Gulf oil states such as United Arab Emirates, Qatar and Kuwait. While marketing itself as a luxury playgrounds of tourism and business, close to 90% of UAE and Qatar's population are foreign workers. Most of these workers come from far poorer nations such as India, Bangladesh, Philippines and Nepal, and the workers often endure very difficult employment and living conditions. Oftentimes parents will leave their home country for a decade or more to try to build up savings for their family back home, putting a big strain on family relations. The World Bank estimates that yearly sum of remittances (the money being sent home by foreign guest workers) amounts to more than double all official foreign aid globally.


Somehow I've always been fascinated by enclaves and people living in isolated communities. While "Satellites" looked at separatist republics in the former USSR, in 2005 I started another project about a different type of enclave - the urban slum. "The Places We Live" became a three-year journey through four slum communities around the world, and in 2008 it became a book and exhibition featuring projections and voice recordings in a three-dimensional installation.

I've always been fascinated by faith and religion, and its place in society. In September 2017 my most recent book, The Last Testament, about people who claim to be the Second Coming of Christ was published. I've enjoyed working with a diverse group of clients, of all sizes and shapes.

Some of my clients have been GEO magazine, Newsweek, the Sunday Times Magazine, The Rockefeller Foundation, Goldman Sachs, and many others. Since 2004 I have had the pleasure of working with National Geographic Magazine on many stories.