jabal akhdar and the aflaj system

yesterday, as we climbed higher towards nizwa, we were surprised by how cool the air got and how much more greenery we encountered.

jabal akhdar’s semi-mediterranean climate is ideal for pomegranates, dates, figs, pears, plums, peaches, grapes, wild berries, lemons, almonds, walnuts, olives, and roses. in fact, there are 30,000 pomegranate trees spread over ten villages, and these are supposed to be some of the best in the world. i can vouch for it. we had lunch at a restaurant with a beautiful view of oman’s agricultural terraces and i couldn’t get over the best salad i might have ever had: pomegranate seeds, beets and cilantro. not one or two pomegranate seeds here and there – the salad was awash with them.

utterly fresh and delightful. this might be a persian salad – there are a lot of overlaps between the two cultures.

the irrigation in these parts is based on the aflaj system, ancient water channels from 500 AD located in the regions of dakhiliyah, sharqiyah and batinah. this type of irrigation might go back 5,000 years and was also found in ancient persian towns.

each village has its own falaj (water system) and ways of sharing water equitably. in the old days, water clocks, sundials (during the day) and stars (at night) were used for timing water shares.

the fruit is hard to pick as it grows on mountain terraces or inside deep craggy wadis. it is done by hand, by men and women who fasten baskets to their heads, collect the fruit, and then climb back up. this is why it’s expensive.
once in nizwa, we checked out the souk and the famous nizwa fort.

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