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Misfat Al A’briyeen, Hajar Mountains, Oman

Much of the traditional agriculture of the Arabian / Persian Gulf region is in decline or being abandoned. Costs of water and labour have increased as have the expectations of farmers. Imports are relatively cheap. But more remote areas of Oman’s Hajar Mountains remain exceptional examples of particularly cosmopolitan forms of agro-forestry. Here date palm production is combined with understories of citrus, roses, and even cereals. Irrigation techniques, such as falaj systems of troughs, are still used to carefully manage scarce water resources. And along with sites of dense food production are dense villages on adjacent hillsides.

In trying to conceive of sustainable settlements for the Middle East, I often return to and reference villages such as Balad Seet and Misfat Al A’briyeen (which are connected by steep mountain trails). These images of Misfat Al A’briyeen were taken from 2004 to 2007. The agriculture in and textures of these communities warrant much celebration, study, learning, and documentation. Misfat Al A’briyeen is almost of a living university of traditional Arab and Persian agriculture especially for mountain and subtropical areas.

The context of the higher elevation villages of the Hajar Mountains with the Gulf of Oman and the Strait of Hormuz on the far left, one of the higher portions of the Hajar Mountains in middle image, and an example of some of the ridges exceeding well over 2000 metres on the far right.

A falaj, an open stone and concrete trough, is in the lower part of this image. Below are some details of that same trough.

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