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Notes on the Geography of Oman: Mazara

Looking at the mountains hemming Muscat, it's hard to believe that an hour's drive away there's a river with clear, flowing water.  But the Hajars, the mountains of eastern Oman, are chiefly porous limestone, and there are a few places where springs feed streams with water enough to swim.  One is the Wadi Tayin, which descends from the mountains to become the Wadi Dhaiqah.  Diverted, the stream irrigates the gardens of Mazara, only a few miles from the sea.

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Oman: Mazara picture 1

It's rude to laugh at the mistakes of non-native English speakers, especially when one's own Arabic is pathetic.  Still, it's hard not to smile.  The point of the sign is that the stream can rise dangerously fast.

Oman: Mazara picture 2

It's calm today, and irresistable to some.

Oman: Mazara picture 3

Just downstream from the last picture, the waters of Wadi Dhaiqah are captured by an open-mouth weir and brought into a ditch.

Oman: Mazara picture 4

The weir blocks the stream but is leaky enough to allow some water to continue downstream.

Oman: Mazara picture 5

Most of the water is now in the canal behind the stone wall.  In the background, the Hajars.

Oman: Mazara picture 6

We're in the palm groves of Mazara now.

Oman: Mazara picture 7

Once, there was a lot of agricultural variety here, but now even a cow is unusual.

Oman: Mazara picture 8

The one constant: date palms living or dying.

Oman: Mazara picture 9

Stone collars protect them from floods.

Oman: Mazara picture 10

Holdings are separated by walls.

Oman: Mazara picture 11

Lorimer's classic Gazetteer of the Persian Gulf (1908-13) says that Mazara has 330 houses, 1,700 people, and 12,000 date palms.  The numbers now, almost certainly, are much smaller.

Oman: Mazara picture 12

A gas station stands alongside the fine highway running from near Mazara to Muscat. 

Oman: Mazara picture 13

With roads like that, there's less need to live out in the village, so this abandoned Mazara house is falling apart. It has the locally typical stone basement, mud upper story, and pointed-arch windows characteristic of wood-shy Oman. 

Oman: Mazara picture 14

A parting shot.

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