My Road to Oman: Once a stranger from Instagram
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My Road to Oman: Once a stranger from Instagram

A week before I departed on a recce to Oman a couple of months ago, I had a moment of anxiety, that outside of the desert expedition medicine course, I would not be making the most of my time in Muscat to meet people and network.  So I hit my go to social media platform, Instagram.

Through my relentless research, or stalking, I discovered a photography club based in Muscat. Ever hopeful I sent a message requesting that a female photographer might get in touch.

Someone answered my call. Tentatively we swapped several messages. Both guarded but enquiring, trying to determine what it was the other wanted from this exchange.

Thuraya’s Instagram account prompted me to be less cynical. A collection of exquisitely lit portraits and several equally as beautiful still lives.

One image blew me away. It was beautiful and provoking in its own haunting way. It struck a chord. Not only on a personal level but through all relationships from family to societal. Many times I have allowed myself to be steered by others.

Our attempt at meeting in Muscat never materialised. On the rare occasions when snow stops play in England, rain stopped play in Muscat on the day that we arranged.

Regardless, we continue to chat over WhatsApp.

Primarily our curiosities bought us together. We share the stories of our lives from remarkably different cultural backgrounds and landscapes. It surprised me, we have a lot in common, our upbringing and family dynamic is not dissimilar.

We share the same internal and external debates with regards to conforming to the norms of our respective societies, that do not appear to be as different as one might imagine. We are frustrated by the general lack of willingness to accept and understand each others differences.

I look forward to hearing from Thuraya, listening to her opinions and hearing her troubles. She allows me insight into what it’s like for her as a person and a women in Oman, her hopes and fears and I let her into my mine. She is finding her way just like I am.

One day she sent me an image of herself, ‘I know that it will be more comfortable to text me when you see my face ?’. I was intrigued all along by who I was talking to but I didn’t want to impose. She is a remarkably beautiful young lady whose eyes are telling and deep with thought, filled with concerns and aspirations for the future.

I hope that Thuraya will be able to join me for part of my expedition; to achieve a first for female exploration and delve deep into the world of women in that region that we rarely see in the Western Press.

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