Kumzar by staff photographer Razan Alzayani

  • Fatma Hassan Al-Kumzari poses for a portrait in the outdoor kitchen area of her home.  Razan Alzayani / The National
  • Aisha Buraim Al Kumzari relaxes on a ledge in the village of Kumzar, Oman.  Razan Alzayani / The National
  • Sitting outside of his home overlooking the main walkway of the village, Wadha Al Kumzari weaves a thread known as 'Saroud' used to place food on during special occasions.  Razan Alzayani / The National
  • Two women return from collecting firewood.  Razan Alzayani / The National
  • A group of Kumzari men relax on chairs facing the sea in the late afternoon. Razan Alzayani / The National
  • Rahila Mohammad Al Kumzari (center in white) prays at her family home while her family surround her in the village of Kumzar. Despite the fact that the village has access to satellite television and internet, all Kumzaris speak their language fluently and insist on teaching it to their children.  Razan Alzayani / The National
  • Two young Kumzari boys skip along outside on rock ledges.  Razan Alzayani / The National
  • A group of local men return from a fishing trip in the late afternoon.  Razan Alzayani / The National
  • A group of young Kumzari boys cool-off by playing and swimming with scrap pieces of wood in a small waterhole.  Razan Alzayani / The National
  • A group of Kumzari men leave the local mosque after their noon prayers.  Razan Alzayani / The National
  • Fatma Hassan Al-Kumzari removes a plate of fish biryani after feeding guests. As well as being a key source of food, fishing is Kumzar's main source of income, with tuna being their main catch.  Razan Alzayani / The National
  • A woman and two Kumzari children  hang out on a doorstep in a small alleyway in the village.  Razan Alzayani / The National
  • Aisha Mohammad Al Kumzari (center) poses for a portrait with a group of women inside a home.  Razan Alzayani / The National
  • The village of Kumzar as seen from a boat.  Located in the northernmost tip of Oman, Kumzar is an isolated village in the Musandam peninsula and is only accessible via boat. Because of its' unique geographical location, locals speak a unique non-semitic language known as Kumzari.  Razan Alzayani / The National

Our little fishing boat turned a corner and the village of Kumzar revealed itself to us in the most cinematic manner. Only a few hours from Dubai's metropolis and I was approaching a tiny village hugged by mountains, peppered and preceded by modest blue fishing boats anchored along the bay. Hundreds of small fluttering Omani flags hung from red ropes that, when I squinted, created red, green and white lines that connected the rooftops to one another.

Other than processing the initial time-warp feeling as I began to walk around, what struck me the most was the oddity of knowing I was in Oman yet hearing a language spoken around me that wasn't Arabic. I had never heard anything like it and found it difficult to isolate the Arabic words in their sentences. But the locals were quick to welcome us, and spoke to us so proudly of their heritage and their unique language. Although almost all residents have access to internet and satellite television, this town has no paved roads, and most Kumzaris seemed to prefer to relax by the water or outside their homes to socialise with their neighbors in their free time. The children had also made toys and instruments created out of left-over scraps of wood or buckets - tangible testaments that this would not be a playstation generation.

Having partially grown up in the Gulf my aim was to capture that nostalgic 1950's Arabian Gulf era that I personally felt still existed in the village. More importantly, as a photographer and observer of cultures, I truly cherished the trust and accessibility the Kumzari women unquestionably gave me, knowing that they would probably never see the photos unless I made the long journey back there to show them.

* Razan Alzayani, staff photographer



Photo edit  by staff photographer Silvia Razgova and photo editor RJ Mickelson.  Sequencing by photo editor James O'Hara.