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.

– See more at: http://blogs.thenational.ae/photography/national-view/kumzar-by-razan-alzayani#sthash.agXpo54E.dpuf

The Manny Pacquiao Story

I admit it, I was never a boxing fan, to be honest I didn’t know much about it until this recent project was dumped onto our hard drives 2 weeks ago.

Mike Young (photographer) traveled to the town of Bagiuo along with Chuck Culpepper (sports reporter).  They spent a fascinating week up in the mountains accompanying Manny while he trained in high altitude for his upcoming fight next month.

Meanwhile, thousands of miles away our multimedia team at The National had no clue that Mike was going to come back with countless photos and great behind-the-scenes footage (from a flipcam of course) of Manny’s daily training sessions.

Mike arrived, captioned all his incredible photos and dropped all his footage off. Eek. Not sure what’s worse, too little footage or too much good footage. In this case, most of the content was so great, including Chuck’s copy. We spent days going through colorful images of the gorgeous mountain town, Manny’s funny..yet serious entourage and of course Pacman.

The result was the launch of our Manny Pacquiao page on our site. It took a good 2 weeks of hard work from all the multimedia producers, to the photo, managing, online and sports editors to the IT development team upstairs at ADM (Abu Dhabi Media).

Whether you’re a boxing fan or not, I hope you find this interesting: