An italian journalist and an avid photographer who loves to shoot anything interesting that catches her eye is making Muscat her base for now. A writer and researcher she is making attempts to set right the misrepresentation of Arab and Islamic culture in Western society.

In love with the Sultanate right from her maiden visit three years back, Antonella Appiano, is “putting togheter” words and images of her works, more precisely as writer and photographer too. Antonella utilizes a variety of social media platforms to promote the Sultanate to Europe, and Italy in particular.

A chat with her reveals her deep interest for the Sultanate and the life here, having travelled from Musandam to Salalah and beyond. It was her academic studies in the Middle East that led her to travel extensively. In 2013 she realized it was almost time that she visit the Sultanate and remembers how intrigued and excited she was when she finally landed.

“I visited the country and at every encounter with new culture, was curious and observant greedy to understand its history, its people, and culture. This time, I felt as if Oman was my adopted home.”

Antonella research and academic studies mainly include Arabic world, Middle East, Islam, multiculturalism and interfaith dialogue. As an analyst, she promoted Syria Calling which offers a journalistic report and describes events and happenings in a diary from March 2011 to February 2016. An interactive e-book, Syria Calling, is not a traditional book but a text to surf background information with references, maps, timelines and photographs. Antonella explains: “It is a way to negotiate two narrative threads simultaneously both of reportage and in-depth analysis, and does not intend to cover every turn of events day-by-day, but focuses on the most important events and creating a guide that allows the reader to distinguish the various features of the Syrian situation.”

She want to promote intercultural and interreligious dialogue among the peoples and cultural pluralism being the key to further mutual understanding. “I’m planning to encourage dialogue through cultural tourism”, she adds.
Antonella is spell bound by Oman’s beauty with its fantastic mountain scenery, desert dunes, stunning beaches, rocky coastlines, palm groves, lime orchards, and its gorgeous capital, Muscat, which she calls, an “extended city”.

She recollects the first time she travelled by car on the streets of Muscat, along the wide open roads inter-crossed by junctions, under-ways and roundabouts adorned with palm trees and flowers. “Against a background of brilliant blue sky and brows mountains, the houses were dotted between the shopping centers, banks, and villas half-hidden by bougainvillea. The fascinating sound of the muezzins’ voices resonating above the city before prayer time was and still is, another side of the beauty of Muscat. But it’s not only for the natural beauty that I fell in love with Oman.”
Antonella says: “The serenity and the spirit of tolerance that you can breathe, the kindness and the character of the people – the mariners of the coast, merchants, farmers, businessmen and businesswomen, the artists – from my experience, they are the friendliest in the Gulf.”

She also indulges in impulsive photography through which she prefers to send a strong message of a different image of Middle East. Through social media she prefers to showcase the beauty, culture, architecture, arts and lifestyle of Oman.
She also recollects her previous visit during the National Day celebrations. “Walking around Muttrah souq, which was decorated with flags and lights, with tri-colour gadgets on sale at all points. Everything seems to be green, white and red. In the dressmakers’ shops, outfits in the national colours are on display. Her gallery contains a large collection of dramatic sunsets. “On the beaches, everywhere, I like when the windows filter through the red light of the setting sun, which is blazing across the horizon: the atmosphere is cocoon-like, peaceful. I love the evening that descends quickly, which lightly skims Muscat. You have to be ready with the camera: in a second it’s dark.”

She loves walking along the streets of Muscat and explains about the latest rage on white embroidered robes. The air is fresh and we soon arrive at the souk, dipping into the tangled web of galleries and alleways. As they leave the souk, clouds are gathering across the clear blue skies. They look like cotton wool, a soft creamy shade and the call to prayer by muezzin rings out loud and clear.

Liju Cherasien
Weekend Magazine – December 1, 2016 – OmanObserver