Tuesday, April 16, 2024 | Shawwal 6, 1445 H
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EDITOR IN CHIEF- ABDULLAH BIN SALIM AL SHUEILI

Stone houses on mountains are Oman’s architectural heritage

TEXT& PHOTOS BY YAHYA AL SALMANI
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Built on mountain heights, stone houses in the Sultanate of Oman are architectural heritage that enrich tourism. In the past, rural and nomadic communities lived in houses made of various materials such as mud, stones, trunks, and branches. Each type of house had its own unique tools, designs, uses, and locations.


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The Bedouin houses were made from animal skins, particularly camel, goat, and sheep hair and skins. Rural houses came in two types, either made of mud and wood or wood and palm trunks, known as "Al Areesh". Mountain dwellers relied on stones and solid mountain rocks as the primary materials for their homes, with gypsum used to stabilise and stack the stones. Ropes, animal skins, and wood from local trees like Acacia trees were used for roofing.


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Outside these homes, separate areas or rooms were designated for cooking and meal preparation, often utilising tree trunks and branches due to the lack of modern cooking tools. While most people lived in houses made of palm fronds, some built stone houses, though very few of these buildings remain today. These stone houses can still be found along the heights of the mountain ranges, where the Omanis lived for long periods before the advent of modern urbanisation using cement materials.


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These houses, built symmetrically in square or rectangular shapes, were home to Omanis leading a simple life based on grazing and raising livestock. Despite erosion and rapid population expansion, the stone houses have remained steadfast, with some appearing as if their occupants had just left them. Today, these stone houses have become tourist attractions, drawing visitors from all directions who admire and learn about the life and culture of the past. For the new generations, these houses connect significantly to the country's history, geography, and culture, providing realistic insights into social life and the architectural style of the past.


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Many Omanis, longing for the sight of their old stone houses, visit them with family members. Standing in front of these houses evokes pride and admiration for their ancestors' struggles. The stone houses where their grandfathers and fathers grew up are integral to their identity.


In the present day, the situation has changed significantly, with the government providing modern housing with electricity and communication services. The efforts made by the government and official bodies are greatly appreciated by the Omanis, who express their gratitude for these modern amenities while still cherishing the significance of their ancestral stone houses.


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