This collection consists of early prints, charts and maps of the Arabian Peninsula, early black and white and colour images of Oman and East Africa, and specially collected print and paintings. The early prints, charts and maps were once hidden in dusty atlases or traveller’s accounts in Western Europe, and are among the earliest images of the Arabian Peninsula, dating from the 16th to 20th centuries. Although they are often inaccurate they remain important historical documents.
The oldest print in the Gallery is a rare copper engraving of a Muscat scene, published in Augsburg Germany, circa 1670. The image, by a traveller named I Peeters, which may have been copied from Portuguese drawings, depicts a watchtower.
A section of prints illustrates scenes in East Africa, particularly Zanzibar. Omanis were among the earliest Arab settlers in East Africa. By the seventh century they had established trading communities and were spreading the teachings of Islam. By the nineteenth century, when most of the prints in the East African collection were published, much of East Africa was governed by rulers of Oman.