January 9, 2013
Our little fishing boat turned a corner and the village of Kumzar revealed itself to us in the most cinematic manner. Only a few hours from Dubai’s metropolis and I was approaching a tiny village hugged by mountains, peppered and preceded by modest blue fishing boats anchored along the bay. Hundreds of small fluttering Omani flags hung from red ropes that, when I squinted, created red, green and white lines that connected the rooftops to one another.
Other than processing the initial time-warp feeling as I began to walk around, what struck me the most was the oddity of knowing I was in Oman yet hearing a language spoken around me that wasn’t Arabic. I had never heard anything like it and found it difficult to isolate the Arabic words in their sentences. But the locals were quick to welcome us, and spoke to us so proudly of their heritage and their unique language. Although almost all residents have access to internet and satellite television, this town has no paved roads, and most Kumzaris seemed to prefer to relax by the water or outside their homes to socialise with their neighbors in their free time. The children had also made toys and instruments created out of left-over scraps of wood or buckets – tangible testaments that this would not be a playstation generation.
Having partially grown up in the Gulf my aim was to capture that nostalgic 1950′s Arabian Gulf era that I personally felt still existed in the village. More importantly, as a photographer and observer of cultures, I truly cherished the trust and accessibility the Kumzari women unquestionably gave me, knowing that they would probably never see the photos unless I made the long journey back there to show them.
* Razan Alzayani, staff photographer
Photo edit by staff photographer Silvia Razgova and photo editor RJ Mickelson. Sequencing by photo editor James O’Hara.