Photographs open a window into Oman’s traditional arts

Photography is an art form that captures a moment in time and presents to its audience an image that truly is worth a thousand words. One of Oman’s best known and respected photographers travels through the world capturing the faces, actions and hardships of the people he encounters. His work is famously known for its representation of cultures and traditions, candid portraits and for his work from around his home country, the Sultanate of Oman.

Haitham al Farsi, a banker by profession is a FIAP affiliated photographer who’s interest in photography first started in 2013. Following in the footsteps of his father, Haitham was inspired by his father’s ability to capture the perfect moments and create a still image that can be cherished forever and is able to resonate the emotions attached to it.
Although a full-time banker, Haitham has always had a keen interest in art and music, even as a child, he shares, “something about music and painting always appealed to me from an early age”.
Following his passion to candidly photograph people, Haitham has travelled to various parts of the world like India, Bangladesh, Nepal and China with plans to visit many other countries in the coming future.
Haitham is a completely self-taught photographer. After picking up his first camera in 2013, he trained himself about techniques and technicalities by doing online research, following blogs and YouTube video along with the support and help of the Photographic Society of Oman was able to develop his skills and present to us the fantastic work that we see today.
Since then, he has received an excellence title from Fédération Internationale de l’Art Photographique or FIAP and he currently holds 320 achievements and accolades from both local and international competitions. Haitham was also the first in the Sultanate to set up the a digital photography competition, creating a platform for other budding photographer to showcase their work.
On a Sunday evening Haitham hosted “Traditional Music Photography Exhibition” at the Photographic Society of Oman in Al Seeb. The exhibition featured 43 masterpiece photographs taken by him of various traditional Omani art, music and instruments, reflecting the liveliness and vibrancy of traditional Omani music.
The exhibition was inaugurated by the Secretary-General of the Sultan Qaboos Higher Centre for Culture and Science and also in attendance were chief guests Musallam al Kather, General Manager of Oman centre of traditional music and Ahmed al Busaidi, General Manager of the Photographic Society of Oman. Other than these esteemed guests, also attending were various important local authors and photographers from all over the country.
The aim of the event was to give recognition to traditional Omani music and a platform for the Oman Music Centre displaying their aims, missions and achievements. The exhibition also displayed to its visitors, some of whom were tourists and expatriates about the rich folk arts from different parts of the Sultanate along with working towards preserving these traditional cultural arts.
Arranged by the Oman centre of traditional music, the exhibition was split into two parts, the first with the photographs of traditional Omani musicians and instruments that were taken by Haitham and in the second area were keepsakes, photos and other memorabilia from the 80s along with various other activities to get the visiting guests involved and entertained.
Through his photographs, Haitham opens a window for outsiders to peer into the lives and traditions of his subjects. Although his success and popularity have grown, the photographer himself has remained grounded and like many other Omani’s remains humble. He says, “I want my photography to be famous, not me. I’ve had offers and requests to pursue my hobby professionally but I turn them down as I believe and want photography to remain as a passion and hobby of mine and not become my work.”
To find out more about Haitham and his works, follow @farsihaitham on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook and see for yourself the talent of this exceptional photographer!

Titash Chakraborty