World Heritage Sites are sites that the UNESCO World Heritage Committee includes in UNESCO World Heritage Programme. These sites may be natural, such as forests and mountain ranges, or man-made. The programme was launched through the Convention on the Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage adopted by UNESCO General Conference that convened on 16 November, 1972.
This programme aims at classifying, labelling and protecting the sites that are particularly important for the humanity, whether they are cultural or natural.
The Five Falajs
In July 2006, the World Heritage Committee endorsed the inclusion of the five Omani falajs in the World Heritage List to express the international standing of this unique water system that represents a cultural legacy created by the Omanis over 2,000 years ago, being the oldest irrigation structure in the region. It is still the major source of irrigation in the Sultanate and a water source that can be relied on in most Omani cities and villages. It is rare to find anything like these falajs elsewhere in the world. They are:
Falaj Daris is one of the largest falaj in Oman and lies in Wilayat Nizwa in A’Dakhiliyah Governorate. It is a Dawoodi Falaj.
It consists of two branches: The “Big Branch” running for a length of 1,700 metres, and the “Small Branch” with a length of 1,900 metres. Falaj Daris stems from Wadi Al Abyad (White Valley). A lot of this wilayt’s (district’s) residents depend on Falaj Daris to water their crops that extend from Shariat Al Falaj in Daris to the market area.
Falaj Al Khatmayn
Falaj Al Khatmayn lies in Birkat Al Mawz village in Wilayat Nizwa in A’Dakhiliyah Governorate. It is a Dawoodi Falaj and is fed by Wadi Al Muaydin that flows heavily during rainfall. Its total length is about 2,450 metres.
It is a branch of the Dawoodi falaj that flows plentifully during heavy rainfall. Its overall length is about 2,450 metres. Falaj Al Khatmayn is characterized by its acute precision in the distribution of falaj water and continuous flow throughout the year. What distinguishes this Falaj is that its course runs through Bayt Ar Rudaydah, one of the famous castles in Oman.
Falaj Al Malaki
Falaj Al Malaki is located in Wilayat Izki in A’Dakhiliyah Governorate. and is one of the oldest falaj in the Sultanate.
Falaj Al Malaki is considered one of the largest Dawoodi Falaj as it has 17 branches that feed the falaj.
Falaj Al Muyassar
Falaj Al Muyassar is one of the most important falajs in Wilayat Ar Rustaq in Al Batinah South Governorate. It is characterized by its deep waterway and the large number of its branches.
Falaj Al Jaylah
Falaj Al Jaylah is an Ayni Falaj. It lies in Al Jaylah town in Sur in A’Sharqiyah South Governorate (Eastern Region) and is fed by Wadi AlShab. Feeding from Wadi Shab, this falaj is the town’s main water source. The length of its open channels that starts from the fountainhead and ends and at the water basin is 161 metres. Falaj Al Jaylah water is used for irrigation. This falaj has been included in the World Heritage List.
Bahla Fort and Wall
Bahla Fort lies in Wilayt Bahla in A’Dakhiliyah Governorate. Since 1987, its name has been included in the World Heritage Sites List. Bahla Fort includes: Bahla Oasis with its traditional souks, old alleys, ancient mosques, and its wall that extends over a distance of approximately 13 kilometres and whose construction dates back to the pre-Islamic era.
Originally, Bahla Fort was built in the third millennium BC. The length of its South façade is about 112 kilometres, while its eastern façade is about 114 metres.
It is evident that the Bahla Wall, which extends over a distance of 12 kilometres, with its terraces, apertures for opening fire and guardhouses, was designed for defence purposes.
Bat Tombs and Settlement
Bat Tombs historical sites are located in Bat, Al Khutum and Al Ayn in Wilayt Ibri in Ad Dhahirah Governorate. They are considered one of the archaeological and historical sites that date back to the third century BC and are located to the east of Ibri. In 1988, Bat Tombs was the second site to be included in the World Heritage list in Oman.
The frankincense trees in Wadi Dukah, the Al Shisur Oases and the ports of Khawr Ruri and Khawr Al Baleed have contributed to the prosperity of the frankincense trade in the region for several centuries. It was one of the most active trades in the Middle Ages and earlier. The Frankincense Route contains a number of sites where the process of manufacturing and exporting of frankincense took place.