The Aflaj irrigation systems (in the singular “Falaj”), typical of the Sultanate of Oman, have been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2006.
Each mountain village has its own Falaj to support the cultivation and development of local agriculture. In Oman there are about 10,000 of them, the largest being the Falaj Daris, which is located about 7 km from Nizwa.
The Aflaj system was first introduced to Oman by the Persians in 2500 BC. and developed mainly from the 6th century.
The water comes from wadis (river beds that fill with rainwater), from rainfall or from mountain springs. By taking advantage of gravity and a system of slopes, the water is channeled for many kilometers, mainly for the purpose of agricultural irrigation, but also to serve the smaller villages.
In other cases they are dug along a slope where there is an aquifer and the water flows directly from the mountain.
Observation towers have been built along the Aflaj route to always have control over their operation. In these desert areas, water is an extremely precious commodity, it should not be wasted and the presence and quantity depends on the survival of many villages and the country’s agricultural economy.
The management of this patrimony is still guaranteed by very rooted common values and guided by astronomical observations.