One of the methods used by the Omanis to store water in the valleys and mountainous areas is called ‘Al Habeesah’.
This traditional method is still used to reserve wadi water in various wilayats of Oman. In this method, rainwater is collected in basins built of rocks and mud and are designed in different geometric shapes, and the design depends on the spaces available for building such basins.
A water channel called (Al Falaj) flows from this ‘Al Habeesah’ and is one of the most popular traditional irrigation channels. After the basins are filled with water, the water begins to flow into these channels to pass between the plants for long distances.
"We still depend on seasonal rains to irrigate our crops. ‘Al Habeesah’ is a miniature dam which is used to hold back the valleys, so that the villager benefit from irrigating crops throughout the year. We are keen to employ our capabilities that provide us with opportunities to practice agriculture that we grew up with.”
The role of ‘Al Habeesah’ is just not limited to securing irrigation water for crops, but these traditional basins also contribute to providing water for animals, birds and bees.
“Rains are an essential resource for sustaining our lives. In recent years, rainfall has increased, and today we follow the same method that we inherited from our older generation, as we do not hesitate to build water basins in new locations to ensure the storage of rainwater,” say locals.
Today, these traditional basins have become tourist attraction from different countries of the world. There are many nature enthusiasts who devote their time to exploring the treasures of Omani nature, and do not hesitate to make great efforts to reach these unique sites despite the mountainous terrain.
"We thank everyone who cooperates with us in cleaning these exceptional sites periodically, because they are making great efforts to remove a lot of waste. However, we request tourists to take into account the preservation of these ponds, by making sure not to throw waste in them, because they are the main lifeline for the inhabitants of villages and its vital resources such as rare wild animals and birds”, says the local citizens.
Photos by the author