In her sunlit portrait of the pole dancing instructor Nusaiba Al Maskari, the UK-born Omani photographer Eman Ali creates an arresting visual simile between the strength of Al Maskari’s body and the Hajar Mountains in the background. Gracefully extending herself horizontally from her pole, she aligns with the peaks above Muscat, a single fluid line across the picture plane.
Ali, who currently works between Oman and Bahrain, began practicing pole dancing herself while living in London years ago. She wanted to meet and photograph Al Maskari in particular after hearing about the instructor’s private studio, Rock & Rhythm, she explained over email.
“I am drawn to like-minded women who aren’t afraid to be themselves,” Ali said.
Some of Ali’s fondest memories in Oman are of time spent in nature — from “magical” childhood camping trips in the country’s wadis, or oases, to diving in the Gulf of Oman, she said. So, rather than take Al Maskari’s portrait in her studio, she asked her if they could meet outdoors at the Bousher Sand Dunes. Known locally as “Urooq,” the dunes rise high above buildings in southeastern Muscat but have been “slowly disappearing” because of urban growth, she explained.
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