Muscat: Prominent corporate leader and philanthropist, Mohammad Al Zubair has published a book filled with photographs he has taken of buildings around Oman.
Based on his lifelong interest in architecture, the book, titled Oman's Architectural Journey, features nearly 800 photographs, almost all of them taken by Al Zubair. They document Oman's rich history as seen through architecture, some of it dating back 5,000 years while others are stunning contemporary buildings.
"I've been working on it for seven years. I started because I wanted to record buildings that I think will disappear in a few years," Al Zubair told Times of Oman at thebook launch at Bait Al Zubair on Thursday night. An avid architectural photographer, Al Zubair said he had noticed the deterioration of many old buildings when he visited them every few years to take pictures. He decided that in order to preserve the history for future generations, he should document the buildings in a book.
Al Zubair claimed he had more than 500,000 photographs to choose from, so narrowing the collection down to 800 was quite a task. However, he was careful to include images that would display the development of Oman, while reflecting the way in which traditional building styles have been maintained over many centuries.
"I think this is the best one," he said, pointing to a photograph of an ancient village built into the side of a mountain near Jebel Shams. "The brilliant aspect about it is that it was built exactly like the contours of the mountain. It is camouflaged. Enemies will never see it."
While the old villages and building techniques fascinate Al Zubair, so too does modern architecture. The book also showcases examples of new buildings that pay tribute to Oman's past, such as the Royal Opera House Oman and the Shangri-La Barr Al Jissah Resort and Spa, which The Zubair Corporation owns. Al Zubair's own glass house, located at the resort, is also featured among the 477 pages.
"The challenge is to see how the work develops. I wanted to include the architecture of the future, so I built the glass house. It's all glass. I think it's the only one in the world," he stated.
In addition to the many beautiful photos, the book also provides some explanations on the different types of architecture found in Oman. It has sections dedicated to a variety of subjects that Al Zubair finds interesting, such as traditional, defensive, religious, and domestic architecture.
"I've always been involved in architecture in my own way. Even when I was young, I helped the masons build our own house in Salalah and here," explained Al Zubair.
Oman's Architectural Journey is available at the Bait Al Zubair museum. All the proceeds from the sales will be donated to the Bait Al Zubair Foundation.