Based on Royal Decree 36/2022, Sinaw became a wilayat in appreciation of its historical and economic importance. This ancient place has many archaeological and historical sites bearing a symbol of the Omani heritage and identity.
Most of these houses and mosques served as schools for teaching literature and Islamic studies, as well economy, politics and sociology. Therefore, these sites still carry cultural connotations and store historical values that the people of this wilayat are proud of.
A large group of houses with their massive columns and decorated doors are now in dilapidated condition. Many districts (Harat), which were built some 300 years ago, comprise mosques, traditional souqs, Quran schools and old castles with high circled towers where the Wali used to stay with his family. This distinctive sight can be seen in Sinaw, which is 175 km from Muscat.
In Sinaw, there are around 30 small villages. Important among them are Al Magdar, Al Mahalla, Al Qala'a, Al Souk and Al Handaly. The old traditional souq has four gates to help people enter easily from different directions. In the past, these gates opened for the public only after the evening prayers since they used to spend their morning gathering their agricultural products. Here they traded local livestock, agricultural products, silver and gold antiques.
These Harat are now seeking official attention. The area is now a waste dumping area. These old houses, castles and high towers are falling prey to elements. The extreme weather conditions have taken a toll on them. The roofs of most houses and mosques have already collapsed, while the decorated doors and windows are broken. The plastering on the walls and beautiful arches has peeled off, revealing the stones and clay used in the construction.
On the positive side, all Harat are surrounded by green oases. Like other old towns around the Sultanate of Oman, locals used the aflaj to irrigate their farms. Each local farmer has a specific time to share the falaj water, and a sundial clock controls it.
TEXT & PHOTOS BY YAHYA AL SALMANI