Creativity, innovation and perseverance have been the hallmarks of people of the Sultanate. Long before the material comforts of present times evolved, people of this land learnt to triumph over nature’s vagaries. They transformed the challenges that the land offered into opportunities through intuitive solutions. They built mud houses that remain super cool even at the hottest days to live in the Nizwa mountains. They formed terraces on steep slopes of Jebel Akhdar and Jebel Shams to grow food and fodder. They developed the aflaj to irrigate their farms.
Aflaj, which is the formation of a network of intricate canals called falaj, has stood the test of time and feeds many a farm even to this day. They are found in Dakhiliyah, Sharqiyah and Batinah regions. Some of these may have fallen into disuse or lost to posterity. Some others may have been left in disrepair and abandoned altogether.
It’s a testimony to the wisdom of the ancient generations that were responsible for the greatness of this ancient land that Unesco put five thriving aflaj systems –Al Khatmeen, Al Malki, Al Daris, Al Mayassar and Al Jeela – on the list of World Heritage Sites in 2004. It is also a tribute to the Sultanate’s interest and success in preserving its heritage and monuments that serve to throw light on ancient past and rich traditions.
There is no doubt that the government’s efforts have indeed paying rich dividends. Al Ain falaj in Yanqul in Dahirah region sprang to life after the local community and the authorities carried out extensive repairs. The people are naturally elated that the work of the Directorate General of Regional Municipalities and Water Resource has come to fruition.
The local community will benefit from the work as Engineer Fahd Bin Masood Elmejrivi, Director of the Water Resources Director, explained. “Al Ain Falaj in Yanqul is one of the main aflaj in the area that meets the irrigation requirement of the area, which was estimated at 1,200 cubic metres a day.” The government’s efforts to resurrect the ancient systems that benefited the community must be appreciated.
The earthy wisdom of the forebears with meagre means, nevertheless, understood the nature and its vagaries well and learnt to make them work for their benefit. When a government, which has the wherewithal to design grand schemes and implement them in double quick time, decides to rejuvenate ancient systems that harmed the environment the least, it shows its respect to the ancient culture and faith in the people who created them in the first place.
The faith in the past is what marks out the leaders of this nation. The nation’s confidence in marching into the future also stems from such an approach to its past. Such an approach also shows that the decision-makers are in touch with the pulse of the communities even in the farthest parts of the nation. The wisdom of His Majesty Sultan Qaboos Bin Said has made the national leadership capable of pursuing sustainable solutions rooted in tradition even while choosing the best for the nation’s progress. This policy is behind the nation’s ability to sustain the traditions even while seeking prosperity.