Source of life

April 02, 2019

The falaj system was started in Oman to create water security. The unique engineering system is characteristic of the sultanate, extending the flow of water from the main channel to long distances via streams to irrigate oases and farms. It is the source of not just agricultural activities but life itself in Oman.

The wilayat of Bahla, like others in the sultanate where aflaj are laid out in the centre of the wilayat and surrounding villages, has more than a hundred aflaj of various kinds, including Al Dawoodiya, Al Aynia and Al Ghailiya.

The most important of these aflaj is the Falaj al Maitha located inside the historical Bahla oasis and is an example of the unique Omani falaj architecture.

Zakaria bin A'mir al Humaimi, a researcher in history, said Falaj al Maitha owes its name to its engineer, the Omani engineer Maitha.  "According to folklore, it was Maitha who suggested to the people of the wilayat to build a falaj to provide them with water security as part of her plan to provide local security and develop the local economy that was dependent mainly on agriculture.  She worked with them to build the falaj which she personally financed. According to the same folklore, Maitha had a sister named Gaitha - an architect - who funded the establishment of the wall in Bahla which was designed as a defensive structure surrounding the wilayat. The falaj and the wall took one full year to complete.”

Humaimi noted that the falaj is located within the historical oasis of Bahla, its channels flowing from the northwestern parts of the Al Alayah area towards the centre of the wilayat, passing by a number of neighbourhoods, including Al Nadwa, Al Lahma, Al Ram and Al Ouqer, and further on to Safalat Bahla in the southwest. Falaj al Maitha is designed in the pattern of Al Dawoodiya and Al Ghailiya aflaj simultaneously, making it a unique feature.

Falaj al Maitha has been mentioned in a number of old Omani manuscripts and documents, including the biography of Abdullah bin Omar al Bahlawi in reference to a water channel constructed by Imam Barakat bin Mohammed al Kharousi, Humaimi informed. There are numerous other references of the falaj in the documents of the Ministry of Heritage and Culture.

Falaj al Maitha has been in the focus of the government, which has repaired, cemented and maintained its channels and drilled a well to feed the falaj.

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