The falaj of Wadi Qurai snakes around the mountain slopes. It is a fine example of ancient Oman’s prowess in harnessing water for drinking and farming in difficult terrains. The falaj is the favourite spot of hikers from across the Sultanate. It is scenic with minor challenges to help amateur hikers get acquainted with the beauty of trekking.
Located about two hours from Muscat hidden in one of the corners of Samayil, Wadi Qurai has maintained its old-world charm and here, the locals are insistent that the impeccable state of nature is preserved.
Based on the source, there are three types of falaj: the Ghaily falaj, which is a simple diversion and canalisation of surface wadi flow; it uses normally open channels to collect and transfer the water. It dries out after long periods of drought with low rainfall since it depends on a shallow underground water table.
The second is the Iddi or Dawoodi falaj, also called qanat, which is a very ancient system for extracting water from the water table by gravity, through a nearly horizontal gallery,” the organisation explained.
“This type of falaj has a system of deep and long channels, the lengths of which sometimes extend to 16 km, while the whole falaj network may reach 45 km, while the third is the Aini falaj, which is a simple canalisation of springs.”
The falaj of Wadi Qurai belongs to the Aini falaj.
In ancient times, people used the hollow trunks of the date palm to transport water from the slopes of the mountains for domestic and agricultural purposes.
The canal assumed its modern form with the advent of concrete and cement when the people were able to easily deliver water flowing along the mountains and giant rocks.
The falaj derives its water from five natural springs and the most important of these springs is Ain al Najmiya. It is also called Falaj Sana’a.
Despite the small size of this falaj, its width does not exceed 20 cm, it is an important source of freshwater for the people as it is able to transport water for a distance of more than three kilometres.
The wadi is also home to birds and wild animals including the Arabian Tahr. It also has dozens of species of wild plants such as Sidr Qusum, Simr, Tulh, Boot and wild figs.
As the falaj is a source of fresh water, swimming is banned. Visitors must also take care of the surroundings and not leave trash at the picnic site.
“We are completely dependent on the water of this falaj for irrigation and household uses, but there are those who do not care. Many visitors swim in the wadi and do not care about the cleanliness of the place,” some locals complained.