It’s only a matter of surface
Willy Lamers

Willy Lamers's statement

In 1970, Oman had only 10 kilometres of paved roads. Nowadays a bit more…
Under the leadership of the late Sultan Qaboos, this Middle Eastern country has been going through a huge modernisation over the past 50 years. Until that time, Oman was an isolated, undeveloped state, lacking in many basic facilities and infrastructure. But in a country where floors are polished and 6-lane expressways are now of the highest standard in the world, there is still so much lack of tarmac. Roads suddenly stop or start, roundabouts have only two exits and bits of scenic road are left unusable after being replaced by dual lane race circuits. And what use is a road anyway? With a 4WD one can drive anywhere, from an untouched part of the desert to a visibly multi used track through a barren landscape. And not to forget, the large castle like villas, without driveways. This fascinated me – we, Dutch people, take such details for granted.

On a (gravel) bike I explored these (off) roads of Oman…
The old roads, the new ones, the under-construction roads, the roads which are not there anymore, the road markings and the not-so-roads. By travelling slow, I photographed the upper layer of this country and the aesthetic of the spaces in between the destinations the roads are leading to.

While I have stayed with this photo series quite on the surface, I do wonder…
Where does it stop? It’s only a matter of time before the connecting space between sights will consist of busy efficient highways that allow more tourists and locals to travel as fast as possible from A to B. There’s a huge car culture as public transport is pretty much non-existent. Big SUVs are not parked near a beach, but on the beach. While Oman keeps working on their surface, I do hope during the next 50 years that they see the charm of the unpaved road and the less convenient way of life.

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