Plan to revive Bait al Baitain

By Mai Al Abria — MUSCAT: Dec. 25: Many traditional houses in Misfat al Abriyeen in Wilayat al Hamra face the threat of collapse due to erosion. Two days ago, Bait al Baitain, a 200-year-old tourist and historical destination, collapsed, marring the look of the village. “Bait al Baitain is included in the University of Liverpool’s development scheme in Misfat al Abriyeen,” said Dr Haitham al Abri, Honorary Research Associate at ARCHIAM Centre at the University of Liverpool.
Dr Haitham said that the university, in cooperation with the Ministry of Tourism, has conducted a study to develop the village for tourism. He said it was “not possible to include all houses in the development plan because of the overall condition of some houses”.
On Bait al Baitain, he said: “The house retains its geographical, archaeological and social value as it is situated at the entrance of the village. It was built and resided by Wali of Sohar in the past. In order to provide solid defence, it was built of rocks, contrary to some houses made with clay bricks.”
Al Abri said the preservation of houses does not necessarily mean rebuilding. “Sometimes, houses need only rehabilitation to retain their current condition. The efforts of residents are a good indication of the people’s awareness in taking the right action in such situations.”
Al Abri said such houses “can collapse anytime, so both residents and tourists should be extremely vigilant” at these sites.
Misfat al Abriyeen is a traditional village in Oman that has ochre-coloured stone buildings, warren of twisting lanes, covered passages, gateways and meandering flights of steps. The enhancements planned by the Ministry of Tourism in the village are a must and they must be executed urgently to preserve what is left of it.