This is part 4 of my series of articles about my recent photo tour in the Sultanate of Oman.
You can find the previously published parts here:
- Oman Travelogue, Part 1: Muscat
- Oman Travelogue, Part 2: Nakhal, Wadi Bani Awf, and Al Hamra
- Oman Travelogue, Part 3: Jebel Shams
The next episodes in the series will be published shortly. I am currently planning my next photo tour of Oman. Would you like to join me there? Check out the tour page and sign up to be notified when bookings will open.
Nizwa is an lively city just south of the Al Hajar mountains of Oman. It boasts a powerful and completely renovated fort, a large souk, but it is most interesting to visit on Friday mornings, when the traditional cattle market is held just outside the city walls.
People from all around the region gather here to buy and sell sheep, goats, and cows. The animals are paraded around a circular platform for the buyers to see and to make offers for. To the outsider, it looks like complete chaos, but the locals handle the exchange of demand and offer with aplomb. At the end of dealings, money and cattle exchange hands at the perimeter of the circle.
It is also a treasure trove of subjects and actions for the travel and street photographer.
After the market is over, other buyers and sellers gather under the shade of trees in a small square to exchange another kind of merchandise: weapons. Old rifles, cartridge belts, and the traditional Omani daggers, the khanjar, are examined by experts and eventually bought and sold.
After leaving Nizwa, we did a brief stop at the semi-abandoned village of Birkat-Al-Mawz, whose name means banana pool. Villages like Birkat-Al-Mawz are somewhat common in Oman. Due to the revenue from the export of oil and natural gas, that started after the current Sultan, Qaboos bin Said al Said, rose to the throne in 1970, Oman has become a rich and rapidly modernizing country. Many villagers moved from their traditional houses, built with mud and dried palm leaves. to modern houses subsidized by the government. As a consequence, villages were abandoned and houses left in disrepair are rapidly deteriorating under the harsh climate of the region.
This is the situation in Birkat-Al-Mawz, whose population is now probably a small fraction of what it used to be. Its spooky ghost-town character makes it a great location for photography, especially when a local gentleman who slightly resembles Sean Connery appears, incongruously draped in an immaculate white, traditional Omani dress against the backdrop of ruined buildings.
Click on the following link for the fifth and final part of this travelogue: Oman Travelogue, Part 5: from the Jabal Al Akhdar to Muscat, via Sur.