May 7, 2010 | 10:30 am

Friday – King Solomon in Oman


The terrain and environment in Oman can be very inhospitable, as the above picture of a mountain village reveals. If the arid climate and difficult topography were not enough, the lack of rain adds to the challenge. There can only be life where there is water, and with less than four inches of rain annually, this leaves much of Oman uninhabitable. If you look at the picture closely, you will see green vegetation on tiers etched in the side of the mountain. This is made possible by irrigation channels known as aflaj (s. falaj). With bricks, stones, and carving into the mountainside, Omanis developed an elaborate irrigation system that captures the rains and taps into far away springs. This has made life possible in the most remote of locations for the past 3,000 years.
While walking through a small village at the base of the mountains, an Omani friend pointed to a falaj and told me it is known as a Da’udi falaj (David falaj). Omani legend has it that the Prophet Suleiman bin Da’ud (Solomon son of David)) stayed in Oman in the 10th century BCE. When he arrived he found the land so dry that he ordered the jinn (supernatural beings) to dig 1,000 aflaj each day for the ten days he stayed in Oman. This type of falaj was henceforth known as the “David falaj.” This is not the only connection to key figures in the Bible. Oman is also known for Queen Sheba’s palace, Job’s tomb, and home of the frankincense that was given by the Magi to the infant Jesus.
Random thought of the day: Given time to get to know one another, we share more history and tradition than we think.