News Column

Omani lensmen capture 'Moments in Old Sana'a

June 1, 2014


Muscat: Seven years ago, two Omani photographers spent time in Sana'a capturing the heritage and culture of the Yemeni capital through their lenses. Now their work will be showcased in an exhibition at Bait Muzna Gallery.

Khamis Al Riyami and Said Al Harthy, both award-winning photographers, said they're thrilled their images will finally be unveiled to the public in a show titled 'Moments in Old Sana'a', thanks to the support of the gallery and sponsorship from Nikon and Khimji Ramdas. Though years have passed since their time in Sana'a, the photographers hope the viewers will get a feel of what they saw and the people they met.

"It's nice to look at these pictures after some time. It brings back the good times we spent. I keep thinking, what happened to the people? Are they still there?" said Khamis.

Said and Khamis captured the architecture, goods in the souq, and above all the people, whom they described as incredibly warm and welcoming, as well as photogenic. Even the women, most of whom were dressed in abayas and niqabs, didn't mind having their photos taken.

"They're not camera shy. That's something a bit different from Omani people. In Yemen, they're so friendly and welcoming towards people with cameras," Said explained.

Rich culture

The photographers were fascinated by the rich culture in Sana'a, especially in its old market, the Souq Al Milh, which they referred to as a "photographers' paradise". Though Yemen borders Oman and shares similar cultural attributes, they admitted that visiting Sana'a was like stepping back in time, to a place untouched by globalisation.

"It's reminiscent of old times. In Sana'a, everyone is so full of heritage. Even the little boys wear the khanjar so proudly," Khamis recalled.

The 42 images which make up the collection were all shot in black and white. Both photographers found this more appropriate for the subject matter as it highlighted the history of Sana'a. "With black and white you can feel the mood, the energy," said Said.

While colour photography is ideal for landscapes and nature, black and white suits heritage and historical subjects, added Khamis.

"It takes away the distractions and leads you directly to the subject," he noted.

Speaking at the press conference to announce the exhibition, Rajiv Ahuja, head of Corporate Communications for Khimji Ramdas, said Said and Khamis's work was well worth supporting.

"We felt Nikon has direct fit with this kind of exhibition. This event falls right in line with our commitment to supporting local talents like Khamis and Said," Rajiv said.

'Moments in Old Sana'a' will be inaugurated at Bait Muzna Gallery tomorrow by Ali bin Khalfan Al Jabri, Undersecretary at the Ministry of Information. It will run until July 3, and will be open to visitors from Saturday to Thursday from 9:30am to 6:30pm.

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Source: Times of Oman

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