Highlighting the experience of migrant workers in Oman, “LIKE” by photographer Ryan Debolski connects issues of exploitation with kinship in the age of social media.
Ryan Debolski made this work during a year in Oman as part of his Fulbright Fellowship in 2014. LIKE explores the physical and digital relationships of the migrant workers who build the infrastructure of Oman, a rapidly modernizing country rich in oil and natural gas. These men, predominantly from East Africa and the Indian subcontinent, communicate using widely available, low-cost smartphones that help them cope with the social isolation they face while living in camps for years. As quickly as new friends are made, others disappear without a trace, never to be heard from again: workers are deported for various reasons, or shuffled around to different camps throughout the region.