Al Falaj Irrigation System

Al Ain had many tribes and many of them had the craftsmanship required to build falaj systems. The first tribe known to have constructed them was Al Awamir.

Besides that, there are many Aflaj systems in the Al Ain oasis, one of the most popular oases in the UAE. The Iron Age Aflaj is in Al Ain’s Hili, Jebeeb, Bida bin Saoud, Thugaiban and Al Madam areas.

In 1946, Sheikh Zayed, as the governor of Al Ain, restored and renovated all the water resources including the falaj system. The restoration of these systems contributed to Al Ain’s agricultural boom.

And that wraps up our guide to Falaj Irrigation System. Besides this place, there are many UNESCO heritage sites reminiscent of the history and culture of the UAE.

There are plenty of water channels streaming through various farming villages in Al Ain and Oman. These water channels are known as ‘Aflaj’ and are a part of the hugely popular Falaj Irrigation System or the Aflaj irrigation network. There are three types of Aflaj systems that are available in different terrains in the region. Let’s dig deeper and find out more about them.

Aflaj is an Arabic word which means ‘split into parts.’ The system evenly divides water between farms and therefore it is known as Falaj. It refers to an underground channel that ensures the supply of water to the crops.

It is an ancient irrigation system that has been an integral part of Al Dakhliya, Al Batinah and Al Sharqiyah regions in Oman since 500 AD. The famous Al Ain Aflaj system is reported to have existed from around 1000 years BC, making it the oldest in the region.

Aflaj is dug deep in the earth, so it extracts water from underground sources such as wadis and wells. Water flows through the system by the force of gravity, without any intervention of machines.

Water constantly streams in these water systems of the oasis. The flow increases during the rainy season in Oman.

Al Ain Al Oasis

COMPONENTS OF THE AFLAJ SYSTEM
There are three major parts of this traditional irrigation network, including:

UMM AL FALAJ
Umm Al Falaj refers to ‘the mother well’ in the Arabic language. It is the major source of water in the system.

TUNNEL
The tunnel delivers a large amount of subterranean water from Umm Al Falaj to its destination. It varies in length depending on the kind of place where the system runs, the amount of water and the shipping point.

ACCESS SHAFTS
Shafts are built at a 20-metre distance along the tunnel. They also have a ring of burnt clay that removes debris and helps in ventilation. The ring protects the channel from destruction in case the tunnel collapses and also prevents the falaj from flooding.

“Aflaj” is the plural of “Falaj”, which means “split into parts” in classical Arabic. This irrigation system effectively divided the water among all the inhabitants; it flowed by gravity from their original sources to homes and cropland. The complex included watchtowers to protect it, but also mosques and other buildings.

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