This week we explore ruins in a country neighboring the U.A.E. and having a similar landscape, history and culture. Wadi Bani Habib is situated within the mountains of Jabel Al Akhdar, one of the prominent mountain chains close to Nizwa in Oman. About 2000m above sea level, today, the Wadi consists of abandoned villages and fruit orchards. Last inhabited 40 years ago, the structures cling to the rocky mountain surface of Jabel Al Akhdar – literally meaning ‘The Green Mountain’. Lush Apple, Pomegranate and Apricot orchards helped sustain the life of the villagers. The strategic location of the village also aided in defending the Wadi in previous days.
The approach to the village is anything but straightforward. One needs to climb a large number of stairs to get to the base of the Wadi after which a short trek gets you to the first house of the settlement. The interior of the rooms are cooler than the outdoor temperature contributed mainly by the stone and mud walls. Certain details in the architecture of the buildings and layout of the structures is similar to small mountain towns of U.A.E. An interesting feature of the area is the ‘Falaj’ system of irrigation which are narrow channels that distribute water in the orchards.
Economic and infrastructure progress in the coastal parts of Oman resulted in people leaving their village behind to move closer to better job opportunities and schools. Urbanization has left this luscious Wadi with ghostly settlements and orchards that have made their way onto the tourist map for people visiting Jabel Al Akhdar.