Last week, a colleague and I, and five of our graphic design students, traveled to Ibri to take part in the 2nd Annual International Design Conference and Exhibition at the Ibri College of Applied Sciences, Sultanate of Oman from May 1st - May 3rd, 2010.Ibri is a 3 1/2 hour drive southwest of Muscat with a population of thirty thousand. In the heart of the desert, there is a design program with majors in digital media and print design. This year's conference theme was “design identity” and the notion of how identity can at times be seemingly neglected in the process of globalization and modernization.
The paper that we presented was based on a collaborative project that my colleague and I created for a curated art exhibit at the Evanston Art Center in Illinois. The five students that traveled with us all had helped with the research and process of our project. The students also gave presentations at the conference on their graphic design class projects.
As you can see from my photos, Oman is quite different from Kuwait and the other Gulf countries that I have visited. It is a mountainous country with much more greenery. Every town that we visited - Nizwa, Bahla' and Ibri - all had old and crumbling fortresses, some going back to the 13th century. The students in Oman also have a much stricter dress code; the males all in white dishdashas and unique traditional hats, the females all in black (and all ran away when I tried to take any photos). Much more than in other Gulf countries, ordinary people also wore traditional Arabic clothing, although often more colorful and varied than the students'.
It was a wonderful experience, despite having too rushed of a schedule, and I can't wait for another opportunity to visit!