Who is who on the photo
Albumen photo of three Omani men in Zanzibar. All men wear official Saidi khanjars and the two men on the left wear also robes typically worn by Omani officials. The word Ismael is below the man on the right, is he Ismael?, but his cloths are less posh than that of the men on the left. Another image of this photo has been published full page on page 3 of reference 1 describing the Winterton Africana collection Album 73 item 38. Our photo, however, has an interesting inscription in German that translates "ISMAEL Highly regarded rich Arabs from Bagamoyo" (Ismael Angesehene reiche Araber aus Bagamoyo).
Bagamoyo was the town on the coast of the mainland where caravans with ivory and slaves returned from the interior of East Africa. In 1889 still 1305 caravans with 41144 people passed the city. It became the capital of German East Africa.
The name Ismael possibly suggests the men may have been Omani Ismaili. Ismaili have been reported to live in Bagamoyo since 1840. However there are different groups of Ismaili. The most famous Ismaili in Zanzibar was Tharia Thopan, of Indian origin, and a member of the group that paid tribute to the Aga Khan. However the Al Lawatia who have been living in Oman for centuries and working as important merchants in e.g. Muttrah and Zanzibar are also Ismaili in origin, but they pay not , already since a long time, tribute to the Aga Khan. Both groups are Shia moslims, while most Omani are Ibadhi (Sunni) moslims. More specifically the Lawatis converted during the 19th century to "twelver Shia Islam" from "Ismaili Shia Islam" .