This large portrait depicts a richly dressed Omani. Although the vegetal landscape appearing on the background is not specifically local, this rare depiction of an Omani indicates the particular interest of the painter for ethnographical details. The sitter wears a colourful waistcoat with orange, blue and red stripes, reminiscent of Indian madras cloth, on a brown dishdasha. Tightened around his waist is a white gold-embroidered shal into which a long khanjar is slipped and tied with a double silver wire. He wears a high turban wrapped around his head covered by the traditional embroidered Omani kimma (or kumma). A tail of the turban lies on the nape while the other falls over the shoulder and shows its decorated fringe. The wearing of the kimma and the turban is specifically Omani and remains until today a distinctive characteristic of Omani people amongst their Arab neighbours of the Gulf.
By its specific geographical position Oman was most isolated from its Arabic hinterland by the Hajar Mountains and the Rub' al-Khali desert, on the other hand it remained wide open toward the Indian ocean. Its maritime history made it the meeting point of strong Indian and Swahili influences with the traditional Arabic background. The costume of this man is difficult to attribute to a specific time or tribe, due to the paucity of sources available. General Haig, quoted by Samuel Zwemer, noted: '[Oman] is an island with the sea on one side and the desert on the other. Along the coast, however, especially in Muscat, they are more in contact with the outer world' (S.M. Zwemer, Arabia, the cradle of Islam, London, 1900, p. 78). Therefore, this portrait is more probably that of a Muscati.
The sea view on the background refers with no doubt to the long maritime history and strength of the Sultanate, whose power extended as far as Zanzibar and further to Mozambique from early 18th century. It is most likely that this portrait dates back to the 1840s or 1850s, when the British presence to the Sultanate was more established than in the first years of the 19th century. As Samuel Zwemer notes: 'Since 1822, Oman has been in the closest relations possible with the British naval power'. It fairly plausible that a British painter whilst en route to or from India stopped in Muscat port and painted this portrait of a local personality.