Village of Kumzar

30 Jan 2013
POSTED BY Y Magazine

On the uppermost tip of the spectacular Musandam peninsula lies Kumzar, the most northerly inhabited village in Oman. Isolated and only accessible by boat, Kumzar retains its own unique language and way of living. An Omani enclave overlooking the Strait of Hormuz, it is separated from the rest of the country by the UAE.



Kumzar has been inhabited for approximately 500 years and villagers speak a local dialect, believed to be a mixture of Arabic and the only Iranian language native to the Arabian Peninsula.

Kumzaris practice Islam and have traditional folk values. Hemmed in by towering brown cliffs, which appear to be almost falling into the sea, the village is reliant on the water. Fishing is the dominant source of income, tuna and sardines being the major catch. In the summer, the extreme heat makes the village almost uninhabitable.

Life is rustic and simple, far removed from the fast pace of modern life, which carries on only a few hours away in the sprawling cities. Only a tinge of the 21st century has encroached on the Kumzari way of life. In the main, things carry on as they have always done.

Photojournalist Razan Alzayani made the trip to Kumzar to record the unique way of life.

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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 and peppered 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.

What struck me as I began to walk around was the oddity of knowing I was in Oman yet hearing a language spoken around me that wasn’t Arabic.

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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 proudly of their heritage and unique language.

Although almost all residents in the village have access to Internet and satellite television, it does not have paved roads and most Kumzaris seemed to prefer to relax by the water or outside their homes and socialise with their neighbours in their free time.

The children had also made toys and instruments created out of leftover scraps of wood or buckets – tangible testaments that this is not a PlayStation generation.

Having partially grown up in the Gulf, my aim was to capture that nostalgic 1950s 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.

 


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