Aflaj Irrigation Systems of Oman

UNESCO RegionArab States
LocationDakhiliya, Sharqiya and Batinah Regions
CoordinatesN22 59 56 E57 32 9.8
Inscription Date2006
Property (ha)1,456
Buffer Zone (ha)16,404
Type of HeritageCultural
CriteriaTo be an outstanding example of a traditional human settlement; land-use; or sea-use which is representative of a culture (or cultures); or human interaction with the environment especially when it has become vulnerable under the impact of irreversible change
All ThreatsLegal framework
All ThreatsManagement systems/ management plan
Unesco Reference Number1207
State of Conservation Report
DescriptionThe property includes five 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 system. Threatened by falling level of the underground water table, the represent an exceptionally well-preserved form of land use.
StatusWorld Heritage Site