It’s too tempting an invitation to turn down: the chance to explore a realm where exquisite private worlds are nested in a rugged, shape-shifting landscape. Of course, Maisa Al-Hooti knows this very well; after all, the Omani photographer is acclaimed for her portraits of her country’s largely unsung beauties. But not content to pursue this visual treasure hunt alone, Hooti has created a way to open it up to photographers from around the world.
“I owe it to my country to show it to rest of the world,” she explains. The result is “Oman in Focus”, an annual ten-day photographic journey that takes 15 top photographers on a tour of the country while inviting them to make a visual record of their experiences, culminating in a group exhibition, “to promote and strengthen the ties we have to different nations.”
This April the saw the launch of the inaugural edition, and Hooti counts it a great success. The visiting photographers admired the diversity of Oman’s landscapes, and were “amazed to see rocky mountains, deserts and beaches in one country.” Another surprise was the warm welcome they received—the depth of which is displayed in their images, in which close-up textures of layered red cliffs, mud and straw walls, and crows-feet around smiling eyes are infused with a powerful sense of enigma.
This is the fulfillment of Hooti’s hopes: a collective effort which “is a step for Oman to be promoted and exposed through the showcase of every participant’s photographs. I want my country to be appreciated by the whole world,” she insists, “and I will not stop until this is achieved.”