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Stories that Inspire

Our Royal Ambassador in Arabia: Skyler Burt – Educator, Photographer, Adventurer

March 22, 2016
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Born in Yosemite Valley, we make versatile apparel for people who bring the spirit of a life lived outdoors to everything they do. Our ambassadors are artists, scientists, teachers, and travelers. Their professions may not seem so different from yours or ours, but they are all adventurers. We are thrilled to welcome Skyler Burt to the Royal Robbins family.

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A camel kiss in the Wahiba Desert

 

My name is Skyler Burt. I am primarily an editorial food and travel photographer, but I’m also an educator, writer and father of two amazing girls. I’m sitting right now in our studio in Muscat, Oman, a little known city on the coast of the Arabian Sea that my wife, Heather, and I have called home for the past six years.

Heather and I have always had a taste for adventure and the unknown. This yearning pushed us to pack all our possessions into her parents’ closet and set out to travel the world nine years ago. Luckily they’re still holding onto our stuff.

 

Long stays are  the only way to get to know a place and its culture

 

We both prefer slow travel versus whirlwind-tours. After spending nearly three years in Northeast Asia photographing the travel lifestyle for Lonely Planet Images, we’re into our sixth year in the Middle East working on various projects with magazines and agencies with our company Yellow Street Photos. I’ve always believed that long stays are truly the only way to get to know a place and its culture.

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Skyler behind the camera in Muttrah Souq, Oman

 

With temperatures soaring well above 120˚F during the summer months, Oman is a land of dry, Mars-like seas of undulating sands that crash like waves onto sharp, rocky mountains. The word for mountain in Arabic is jebel, and at times even the jebels seem to be moving, rising and falling into giant craggy canyons and tears in the earth.

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A rose farm atop Jebal Al Akhdar in the Hajar Mountains

 

A few years ago, I landed an academic position in Oman as the head of the photography department at the Higher College of Technology, a local government-run college. Heather and I actually work together. On the weekdays, we teach college students the art of photography, and on the weekends we explore Oman, while raising our two beautiful young daughters. Living abroad can be challenging at times, but after growing up in the farmlands outside the small town of Boring, Oregon, I needed adventure.

From exploring historic Muscat, to hiking in the Hajar Mountains to trekking across the Sharqiya Sands, the Sultanate of Oman is an incredible destination for authentic culture and a unique outdoor experience. Since Sultan Qaboos took the throne from his father in a bloodless coup in 1970, Oman has emerged as a peaceful sanctuary amid the tumult and turmoil of the region. In 2010, the United Nations Development Programme ranked Oman as the most improved nation over the previous 40 years. But unlike many developing nations, the government has smartly focused on providing accessibility to remote areas with modern infrastructure while preserving the environment and the traditional culture of its people.

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Getting some honey from the mountain bee-keepers in the Hajar Mountains

 

Over the last year, in addition to teaching, I’ve documented food culture of southern Sri Lanka, created images for the Oman Ministry of Tourism, Ritz-Carlton, and The Chedi Hotel, welcomed my second daughter into the world and poured hours into my educational food photography site We Eat Together.

But I’ve decided to step out of the academic world and lead a team of photographers exploring some the most remote areas in Oman. We’ll be creating a vast archive of images to help promote the adventure-travel tourism industry that Oman is quickly becoming famous for.

The jebels seem to be rising and falling into giant tears in the earth

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The terrace farms of Jebal Al Akhdar in the Hajar Mountains

 

Our team will start in the Hajar Mountain Range in the north, a vast open space with some of the best hiking, climbing and camping in the entire region. Not only will we be photographing life on the trail, but we’ll also be documenting the cultural heritage of the unspoiled villages that remain. We will then work our way south into the Wahiba Sands and encounter the nomadic lifestyle of the local Bedouin, before venturing into the untouched caves and wadis (valleys or ravines that are dry year-round except after heavy rains) that crisscross this desert.

Follow our journey as we wind our way around the back-roads, trails and breathtaking landscape of the Sultanate of Oman, the jewel of Arabia.

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