Wednesday, 31 July 2013

Women's Souk, Ibra

Every Wednesday in Ibra the main souk opens a special section that welcomes women to come and shop. It's basically clothing and housewares day with piles of garments and home items available. Leave the macho stuff like food shopping to the men for the rest of the week.

With a desert landscape as desolate as Oman's, there aren't many chances to flash some color. Muslim restrictions on dress are another impediment, but these women seem to be snagging the opportunity to add a little flash to their lives.

A vendor about to unload his packed truck. Buying fringe and colorful border material.

The youngest generation, helping grandmother with her shopping.

Items for the home. Those white things in the arches of the home store are florescent lights.

Burka shop to please Henry Ford - any color as long as it's black (but with plenty of accent embellishments). Alas, now a universal teaching tool, Angry Birds as child table chair set with alphabet graphics. Oh brother.

Monday, 29 July 2013

Fruit and Vegetable Souk, Ibra

There's a great souk in Ibra that's half market, half social center. Come to shop, come to sell, come to sit and chatter.

Dates are a big deal at the souk and the nose knows a good batch.

Other fruits and vegetables are also for sale. In a patriarchal society like Oman, most of the vendors and buyers are men.

The cucumber and lemon seller.

Another vendor and more serious negotiation at the date section.

Portrait of an Omani elder.

Friday, 26 July 2013

Wadi Shab

Wadi you know, a beautiful mountain ravine along the coast in Oman? Sorry, wadi you gonna do about the bad puns? Hike it. That's what we did.

So what's a wadi? Basically a steep, narrow canyon, frequently with a stream running down the center. A bunch of craggy rocks on each side, dramatic views, palm trees, a nice place to take a little trek.

The entrance to Wadi Shab at the Gulf of Oman.

A bathroom sign, a bit lost in translation. The typical mix of tropical flora and severe canyon rock.

Easing into the wadi, a beautiful mix of textures and light.

The river trickles through, but occasionally forms a nice pool. Hello hiker!

Another pool. Arabian paradise.

Wednesday, 24 July 2013

Getting Your Camel On In Oman

What's the Middle East without a couple of camel sightings? They're not everywhere (when was the last time you saw a cow while driving your local freeway?), but get yourself out of the cities and towns, keep a lookout and camels will appear. You gotta pull over for a closer look.

Hello camel!

James, on the prowl. Snap.

"Oh hi, you looking at me?" Time for a quick portrait with a couple of camels.

The ancient and the modern, forging a coexistence. Priceless.

Monday, 22 July 2013

Enjoying The Angles In Ayjah

The little village section of Ayjah in Sur, Oman has a nice collection of houses and delicate, seaside light to bring out the fine details. James, shamelessly inspired by the great photographer Harry Callahan and his fine series in Ireland, took a set of shots to illustrate the place.

Friday, 19 July 2013

Solitude Surrounding Sur, Oman

Desolate landscapes aren't just found way out in the middle of nature. They're all over the place, you just need to look in the right places, at the right time. Oman is filled with empty scenes and the small seaside town of Sur is no exception.


Petrol station at night.

Admin building at a ship museum.

Big screen Football match at a restaurant.

View out hotel window.

Wednesday, 17 July 2013

Shipbuilding In Sur, Oman

Sur's existence is because of the sea and its bounty. There's maritime history there and still an active fishing community. The town is famous for the finely-crafted wooden ships it produces and it's one of the few places around that still hand-builds the vessels.

There's the start of a maritime history museum, with a yard displaying a few old fishing boats.

One shipyard is still active: carving, planking and glueing as it's been done for centuries.  Work and worker in progress.
Stern detail.

While the ships may look traditional, the owner is not. These ships are going to someone in the UAE who's going to use them as personal pleasure craft. They'll get modern conveniences inside. The workers? Shipped in from India, including our home city of Chennai. A small, strange world.

A look at the harbor, a watch tower and an old ship.

Monday, 15 July 2013

Seeing Sur, Oman

Sur is an old harbor town, nestled along the Gulf of Oman in the Northeast corner of the country. It's small and laid back, a classic seaside settlement of old ship yards and lagoons. The oldest part of town is the most picturesque, complete with harbor views and a lighthouse.

The old harbor. The suspension bridge is a recent addition in ever-growing Oman.

Another view of the harbor, the lighthouse directing traffic. A typical old house in the Ayjah neighborhood, near the lighthouse.

A few of the next generation of Ayjah.

A surprising number of goats were wandering around. Fortified kid.

More old houses, with fantastic seaside views. Ahh, the Gulf life...