he Falaj system and water Springs
Falaj (pl. aflaaj)
means a system for the
distribution of water and is commonly used to
describe the irrigation channel system downstream
of the water's source.
Some aflaaj in Oman were built more than
1,500 years ago, whilst others were built at the
beginning of the 20th century. The genius of the
Omani builders is evident in the way they
tunnelled into the ground to a depth of dozens of
metres in order to gain access to the groundwater.
These channels were truly a miracle of engineering
at a time when mechanical equipment was not
Aflaaj can be divided into 3 types:
• The da'ndi - these are long tunnels (qanat) dug
into the ground up to depths of dozens of metres
and extendin for several kilometres. The water
flows continuously all the year round. The course
of a qanat is marked by the series of access holes
used in tunnelling. The access holes are left open
after tunnelling as inspection vents.
• The aini - these derive water from a sprin ,
including a hot spring.
• The ghiayl - a channel tapping a flow in the
upper gravels of a wadi.
There are now over 4,000 aflaaj scattered
throughout the Sultanate, with the highest
concentration in Sohar.
When the falaj waters reach the population, the
inhabitants draw off their needs and the rest is
distributed to agricultural plots according to an
exact system of apportioning the hours of the day
under the supervision of an elected member of the
community. A proportion of the agricultural
harvest is allocated as a contribution towards the
upkeep of the aflaaj and irrigation ditches.
Since the 1970's the government has taken steps to
maintain this precious heritage by restoring
aflaa7, and making them more efficient by digging
support wells and ensuring an optimum use of water
by introducing modern irrigation systems.
There are hot and cold springs in several areas of
the country. The best known hot springs are in
Rustaq and Nahkl, whilst the most beautiful cold
spring is Ain Razat in Salalah.