The Neo-Arabs Issue

The Two Small-Town Photographers Captivatingly Capturing Oman’s Youth

Meet Khalid Al Shaqsi and Abdulaziz Al Hosni

By Manar Alhinai

Down with the Youth’s Fears by Khalid Al Shaqsi. Image courtesy of Khalid Al Shaqsi.

Approximately one hour and a half away by car from Oman’s capital city of Muscat is Al Khaburah, a province in Al Batinah North Governorate. At first sight there may not be many things that would attract a passerby the highway to stop and explore the quiet province. But beyond the highway, Al Khaburah has seen the rise of two young Omani photographers, Abdulaziz Al Hosni and Khalid Al Shaqsi, who have made it their mission to capture the emotions and social issues faced by their young male counterparts.

Al Shaqsi, a 26 year old photographer and creative director, did not always pursue conceptual photography. He began his photography journey in 2017 by exploring different types of photography, from covering events to capturing photos of restaurants and café interiors. But that all shifted for him in 2020 when he finally found his passion: capturing the emotions experienced by his young counterparts and translating the issues they face into captivating conceptual photos.

Al Shaqsi believes that it his duty to capture and document the emotions of young men especially in a country that has undergone massive development and changes in the past 50 years, particularly after the discovery of oil. In one photo, a group of young Omanis clad in traditional dishdasha, a white long dress worn by Omani men, are floating in a boat with one in dressed in a shirt displaying Arabic text that translates to ‘Down With The Youth’s Fear.’

‘Our youth are our wealth. We have a talented young population, the leaders of tomorrow, and it is important for me to document the challenges and feelings they experience, and the opportunities they get,’ he says.

You’ve Got the Arch, You’ve Got the Arrows from the Qaswat Al-Habayeb Series by Abdulaziz Alhosni. Image courtesy of Abdulaziz Alhosni.

Al Shaqsi believes that despite the transformative changes that took place in the country, and the progress it has witnessed, there are still those who cannot realise their dreams because of some social or personal constraints. ‘What inspires me,’ he explains, ‘is that as a member of the youth population, I am aware of the obstacles and feelings that prevent me, like others, from realising my dreams. I feel what the youth feel.’

Though Omanis share a similar culture and traditions with their neighbouring Gulf countries, whose people are known as Khaleejis, Al Shaqsi believes that Oman’s youth and their aspirations and challenges are different, just as Oman’s topography of mountain chains, waterfalls, valleys, golden deserts is generally different from that its neighbours.

While aspirations and unrealised dreams are dominant themes in Al Shaqsi’s work, love is one that he aims to explore more. ‘I’m working on a project revolving around the revolution of love, a conceptual photography series about the expression of love between family members, friends and spouses across Oman.’

The themes of love and youth, however, sit front and centre in Abdulaziz Al Hosni, a 22 year old, self-taught photographer and student of graphic design’s work. His journey in the creative scene stretches back to his childhood, when he painted on his bedroom walls.

Love is an emotion not publicly expressed in Oman, just like in other Arab countries, but it is what continues to inspire the work of the young creative.

This article is part of The Neo-Arabs Issue. To continue reading the article, click here to buy a digital copy of the issue. To read the entirety of this article in print, click here to order a print copy of the issue.

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