With a population of barely 100 people, the Qafifa Village in Ibra can be very deceiving both in its beauty and history.
Home to the Al Manji tribe and located about 170 km from the capital Muscat, it is one of North Al Sharqiyah’s unimposing villages but it is where one can fully experience what an old Omani settlement is like.
Walking around the village with its homes both a mix of modern and the past with some made out of mud and straws, one will smell the Omani frankincense pervading in the air as one passes through each door. The sweet smell of Oman’s luban usually is made even more noticeable as it mixes with the smell of Omani baked bread from some of the home’s kitchen.
Qafifa is one of the fortunate villages that enjoy an abundant flow of water throughout the year. During the rainy season, this water reserve transforms the village into a lush oasis with different crops growing everywhere enveloping the place in greenery.
The homes of the villagers, seen from a distance, is that of calmness and simplicity and exploring its alleys and surrounding gardens is best done in the morning when the birds serenade the visitors with their beautiful songs and the morning breeze providing the much needed peaceful backdrop.
As home to the Al Manji tribe, there is also a lot to learn from Qafifa.
Shaikh Ahmed bin Mohammad bin Issa al Harthy shared, “If you want to know what the ancient Omanis are like, from their appearance to their characters, then you have to visit the Al Manji tribes”.
Al Harthy explained that the tribe has been known for their bravery and generosity. “To their guest, they are always friendly and hospitable,” he said.
Wadi Qafifa, named after the village, is the main source of water for the people and irrigation. It is considered one of the largest wadis in the Wilayat of Ibra where many tourists come for recreation and to spend holiday times in summer or weekends. The fresh air, cool breezes, an abundance of water completed by the palm trees surrounding the whole wadi not only makes the place worth a visit but gives one peace of soul and mind.
The people in the village of Qafifa depend on this wadi to irrigate farms. Many important crops are spread on the outskirts of this village, such as dates, Quince, barley, wheat, onions, garlic, fennel, guava, figs, pomegranates, and many others.
However, the Henna and Yas are the two plants that grow in abundance in this village. Due to their medical benefits in Oman, the increase of demand for these two plantations made people grow them as a business. Women in the village of Qafifa use them for adornment and for treating hair problems, and also for the treatment of many diseases.
The Qafifa Falaj, which is 2 km long, also gets its freshwater from the big Qafifa Wadi. The Falaj is constantly flowing, as the people of the village of Qafifa also depend on it to irrigate farms. There is a close relationship between man and the aflaj, as the aflaj are the lifeblood of the people of the village of Qafifa, and it witnessed the struggle of the Omani people and their strong will to build with intelligence a complete irrigation system with archaic tools.
Like everywhere else in Oman, Qafifa becomes more beautiful and full of cheerfulness during Eid when people gather in mosques in the early morning to pray the Eid prayer. After completing the prayer, they dance Al Razha and Al Azi, along with some of the Omani folk arts which are considered part of the customs and traditions.
The village is also distinguished by the presence of many beautiful heritage places that embody the life of the people of the ancient village of Qafifa, such as the ancient archaeological houses, which represent historical evidence of Omani architecture, where they still stand, although they were built decades ago. Some of the owners of these houses still pay frequent visits to their homes to remember their old days and also to spend the Eid and holidays in the cool weather of the village.
The Qaith season is sacred here. Al Qaith happens in the summer period where the whole village is involved in collecting palms, sort out the dates, in preparation for storing them for winter. All families gather from morning to afternoon, each one is busy with a specific task. The solidarity seen in this village is an example of the nature of the Omani people who are kind, who joins hands with each other, even in simple daily issues.
There are also traditional Omani crafts practised by the elderly people of Qafifa, especially palm fronds and leather crafts. Out of goat or sheep wool, they produce a high-quality fabric used in the making of camps. They used to exploit the simple resources to create things that benefit them in their lives.