Wonders of Wildlife in Dhofar

Mai al Abri –
Forty-five photographs, most of them capturing rare migratory and resident birds in Dhofar, are a result of four years of painstaking efforts from Haitham Ghalib al Shanfari, a young Omani lensman.
These images are currently on display at Haitham’s personal exhibition titled ‘The Wonders of Wildlife in Dhofar’ at Bait al Zubair. The expo reflects this FIAP photographer’s passion for birds and wildlife in Oman.
Inaugurated by Minister of Environment Mohammed al Toobi, the exhibition will run until January 26.
Haitham, who developed a liking for photography a few years ago, considers Dhofar an ideal place in the country for pursuing his passion.
Through the exhibition, Haitham introduces his audience to some rare form of wildlife — birds and other creatures — and highlight the importance of preserving nature as recommended by His Majesty Sultan Qaboos.
“For a successful photography session of wildlife, I believe that patience, ability to deal with the camera and decisive moments are key factors,” he says. “These qualities will help you get that perfect shot.”
Haitham, with support from his family, has become one of the most recognised wildlife photographers in Oman. “I have participated in many local and international competitions organised by the Society of Photography and the Office of Environment Conservation. My last regional participation was Saudi Colours Competition, in which I won the fifth place.”
Internationally, he has participated in online contests organised by FIAP countries such as Serbia, Egypt and Bangladesh. “I won the first place in a contest organised by a Qatari company through Instagram. The winning photograph was sunset in Dhofar.”
Haitham also won the third place in a competition titled ‘Conserving Our Beautiful Oman’, organised by Beah. The winning picture was a bird (Cinnamon-breasted Bunting). I also won a silver medal in Serbia,” he said.
Recalling his early attempts at photography, Haitham said: “It was the fall of 2013 as the luring beauty of Dhofar tempted me to click pictures. I started with my phone camera, but it didn’t satisfy my curiosity.”
Soon, he acquired a Canon EOS 7D and that’s when “my love for wildlife began”. “The coves and springs of Dhofar’s coast are valuable resources with an abundance of wildlife. I have read some books on wildlife and learnt a lot about birds and reptiles in the Sultanate.”