Risk Vs Reward An Eyeopening Trip To The Middle East

Dawn Prayers first of five for the day. Nizwa, Oman


The idea of travel is one that seems nonsensical at first. Leaving the comfort of your own surroundings to explore a completely different way of life to what you know on the surface sounds outrageous. Though inside everybody I see a thirst for adventure and to experience the world in all its unique and mystifying glory.

Though I had never traveled before, especially on my own, the only way to move forward in life is to take calculated risks and since finishing university this seemed to be a big leap but a worthwhile next step. Photography has turned into a lifelong passion of mine, though what I truly love about it is capturing images of a place in time that no-one has ever seen before. A photographers paradise includes places like New Zealand and Iceland but I didn’t want that kind of adventure, I needed to go somewhere that gave me the thirst to explore the unknown, to experience a culture that only few get to see. 

I discovered Oman, located along the Arabian Peninsula pocketed amongst the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Yemen however a country vastly different to it’s neighbours. Like much of the middle east oil contributes much to its economy though a significant portion of their trade is made up of fish, dates and a number of unique agricultural produce. Oman has experience huge modernisation in the last 40 years however still incorporate traditional practices amongst their daily lives. It also has avoided much of the conflict that has crippled that part of the world for many years and has lived peacefully in the mountains and along the coast of Oman 

Skyline after Dark. Sur, Oman

During my initial research I couldn’t help but notice the lack of international representation this country has. I often hear of the romanticisation of these hot Arabian nights though I had little clue of what the country was really like. The generalisation of the Middle East is men with turbans wearing long gowns and women who are very reserved in society, though I had a feeling Oman was very different and a country that would open my eyes to the generosity and welcoming of a very secluded group of people. 

Al Hamra Village, Oman

Back Streets Of Nizwa, Oman

Farmer moving produce in Jebel Akhdar, Oman

Perth To Oman & Back

On my lonely trip over to the other side of the world I had a lot of time to think about the trip that lay ahead. It was always a constant battle being so scared you question what your doing to the other extreme where you want to take every opportunity you get.

Arriving in Oman I was blasted by the cultural shock of experiencing a land so foreign to what I know. Renting a car I joined a road system that completely flipped all that I knew as well as the downright dangerous driving of the local population. After settling in to my room for the night I did what any photographer would do and hit the streets and hid behind my camera snapping away at anything and everything just to get use to the atmosphere of the place. 

Afternoon Meditation. Bahla, Oman

Slowly but surely I found myself lowering my camera and opening my eyes to where I was. I was empowered by a new goal which was to experience everything I could in a culture that from a glance was buzzing with conversation with the smell of exotic spices in the air. This allowed me to find myself interacting with the locals a lot more in conversations that were made up of broken english/arabic however were hugely beneficial in founding out what Oman was really about.

Fisherman and his catch. Muscat, Oman

One conversation that really struck me was when talking about entering the Nizwa Mosque with two gentlemen. I began by saying “I can’t go in there I'm not Muslim.” with a stern look back he said “Do not worry you are Christian, I can go into your Church you can come to our Mosque. at the end of the day Allah loves all, we are one of his creation why would he show any difference to someone of a different faith.”

Achmed. Nizwa, Oman

I took a photograph of that man, not only had he introduced me to one of the main themes of my stay in Oman which was tolerance but he had made me feel very welcome in a country that was very foreign. 

One of the biggest things that I became to love is the landscape of Oman. From a distance it can be seen as unappealing, mostly dessert, hardly any greenery with rocky and arid outcrops. Despite missing the greenery of home the harsh environment unravelled into one of unparalleled beauty in one of the harshest climates on Earth. 

Sunset over Bahla Oasis, Oman

As I made my way across the country I began to discover that the modernisation of the country has made a huge impact on the country. In 1970 the first paved road was constructed In Oman and since then has developed into a thriving connected metropolis. It became clear though that despite everyone having mobile phones and satellite tv, they very much still respected traditional practices of the country. The big things I noticed was that kids actually played outside, it's as depressing as it sounds but after school and before dark there are hundreds of kids running around playing on the streets and enjoying the afternoon sun. More so I felt that everyone knew everyone. Talking is still the primary means of communication and word of mouth is the primary means of advertising. This meant that everywhere I looked I felt as if I was experiencing a past existence, and one that I cherished greatly. When you're not always blasted with mass media it's so refreshing to hear it first hand or experience it on your own. I feel we could learn and thing or two from this way of living.

Master Tailor at work in the Nizwa markets, Oman


Oman, the country I decided to risk it all and book a flight to. The country I wanted to begin my adulthood with and try my hand at photographing. The idea of travel still seems strange to me but I can not wait to do it again and share more stories like this with you. The story of uncovering Oman was hugely rewarding and captured through the photos I hope do it justice. It is a country of huge mystery and underlying hostility for its location in the world. Though the reality couldn't be more further from the truth. It is a country of vast beauty and hidden treasures of a civilisation thousands of years old. Though most importantly it is a country of friendly, welcoming people who live harmoniously with one another and espeically visitors. This trip was a gamble, though I have walked away from this project with images that capture a nation and an experiance that will stay with me for a lifetime. Cultural experiences like this one broaden the mind though they also break you out of your shell and highlight the untold beauty of our world.

Special thanks to my family and friends for all their love understanding and support,

Michael Evans