Aflaj Irrigation Systems of Oman

Brief description

The property includes five aflaj irrigation systems and is representative of some 3,000 such systems still in use in Oman. The origins of this system of irrigation may date back to AD 500, but archaeological evidence suggests that irrigation systems existed in this extremely arid area as early as 2500 BC. Using gravity, water is channelled from underground sources or springs to support agriculture and domestic use. The fair and effective management and sharing of water in villages and towns is still underpinned by mutual dependence and communal values and guided by astronomical observations. Numerous watchtowers built to defend the water systems form part of the site reflecting the historic dependence of communities on the aflaj system. Threatened by falling level of the underground water table, the aflaj represent an exceptionally well-preserved form of land use.

Unesco WHS list ref:  1207

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oman-falaj-daris

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Land of Frankincense

Brief description

The frankincense trees of Wadi Dawkah and the remains of the caravan oasis of Shisr/Wubar and the affiliated ports of Khor Rori and Al-Baleed vividly illustrate the trade in frankincense that flourished in this region for many centuries, as one of the most important trading activities of the ancient and medieval world.

Unesco WHS list ref:  1010

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Arabian Oryx Sanctuary: Delisted

Brief description

The Arabian Oryx Sanctuary is an area within the Central Desert and Coastal Hills biogeographical regions of Oman. Seasonal fogs and dews support a unique desert ecosystem whose diverse flora includes several endemic plants. Its rare fauna includes the first free-ranging herd of Arabian oryx since the global extinction of the species in the wild in 1972 and its reintroduction here in 1982. The only wild breeding sites in Arabia of the endangered houbara bustard, a species of wader, are also to be found, as well as Nubian ibex, Arabian wolves, honey badgers, caracals and the largest wild population of Arabian gazelle.

The World Heritage Committee deleted the property because of Oman’s decision to reduce the size of the protected area by 90%, in contravention of the Operational Guidelines of the Convention. This was seen by the Committee as destroying the outstanding universal value of the site.

Unesco WHS list ref:  654

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Archaeological Sites of Bat, Al-Khutm and Al-Ayn

Brief description

The protohistoric site of Bat lies near a palm grove in the interior of the Sultanate of Oman. Together with the neighbouring sites, it forms the most complete collection of settlements and necropolises from the 3rd millennium B.C. in the world.

Unesco WHS list ref: 434

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Bahla Fort

Brief description

The oasis of Bahla owes its prosperity to the Banu Nebhan, the dominant tribe in the area from the 12th to the end of the 15th century. The ruins of the immense fort, with its walls and towers of unbaked brick and its stone foundations, is a remarkable example of this type of fortification and attests to the power of the Banu Nebhan.

Unesco WHS list ref:  433

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