Wednesday 23 September 2020

Introduction

The safety and dignity of man in Al Ain area was associated with the Aflaj system that played a major role in the development of the social life of the members of the community. The maintenance of the Aflaj system was the duty of every member of the community and the organization of sharing water and the responsibility of maintenance of the Aflaj channels strengthened the social relation between the members of the society.
 
At present, the Aflaj system had become a traditional system that represents a hereditary history of the country. In the United Arab Emirates, the Aflaj system is considered an important application for agriculture. Al Ain Oasis located on the east of Abu Dhabi (about 160 Km) depends mainly on the practice of agriculture that needs the availability of appropriate quantities of water to ensure the continuity of agricultural production. The Aflaj are considered one of the traditional sources of water that feed the agricultural areas and hence they provide sources of food and continuous income for the farmers in the Oasis (Figure 1 and 2).
 
The shallow underground water was used intensively in Al Ain Area to irrigate palm trees and agricultural lands that form the main history of the oasis. The harshness and difficulty of the intense climate characterized with high temperature and rarity of rain fall and the increased pumping of underground water affected the function of Aflaj that limited the availability of water sources and the dryness of some Aflaj. In order to adapt with the environment in which our forefathers lived, they constructed Aflaj in Al Ain Area with what was available in the environment they are living in to manage the shortage of water sources and control the drought periods.

Definition of Al Falaj

 
Agriculture had and still represents the main source for living and having decent life in Al Ain City where the people in the area succeeded in applying their thoughts with what is available in the environment in order to provide the water needed for irrigating their harvest. Hence, in this area, man had invented the Aflaj system to distribute water in a fair manner among houses and agricultural areas. 

The word “Falaj” means division, consideration and arrangement. It also means the agricultural land or running water (Figure 3 and 4) (1)  and conventionally, the term Falaj is known as the water stream that transports the underground water to the surface (2) . In the local accent, Falaj is called (falai) and the plural is (aflaj), meaning the water stream or running spring (3).

The falaj is divided into the following parts: Um Al Falaj (mother of falaj), the well of the underground water from which water is pumped to the surface; Al Thiqab (hole), represents a vertical hole through which a worker enters to the runway of the falaj for cleaning and maintenance (Figure 5) and the surface channels or pillars from which the water branches to the agricultural lands. The falaj water spreads when it reaches the surface into several branches called pillars and the singular is called “Amed” (supporter), narrow walls made from the available materials such as stones that are scrubbed by peels of the palm locks of leafs and then crushed until it becomes like powder  (Figure 6) (4).

In the past the farmers were not able to make full Amed so they used to make a cover for every two meters with an opening on the right and another one on the left called “spread” (Figure 7)(5).
 
There are Aflaj systems similar to water channels or water streams in several countries in the world particularly those similar to the “Dawoeya” aflaj in the Arab Gulf. Every country has its own name for such system. There are aflaj systems in Iran, China, Iraq, Yemen, Jordan, Cypress, North Africa, Spain and America (6). The aflaj systems are also available in Afghanistan, Sahara, Morocco and Japan (7). Table 1 shows the names of falaj that differ from one place to the other.

 
Table 1: Names of falaj in a number of countries (8) (9)
 

Country

Name

Afghanistan

Karpaz

Latin America

Galrias, Pokyo

Spain

Galrias, Miret

Iran

Kanat

Italy

Angrotato (single)

Angrotati (plural

Algeria

Fogora

Canary Islands

Galrias, Miret

Arab Gulf

Falaj (single)

Aflaj (plural)

Libya

Fogora

Syria

Roman Channel

China

Kajing, Karpaz

Morocco

Katara, Ratara

Korea

Ma-Nan-Po

Japan

Mambo-Mabo

Yemen

Feledi, Gail, Metan

 
Al Aflaj are distinguished by that they are similar in organization and administration (10) but they may differ in width, depth, type of flowing water, composition, content and nature of land on which the water runs. This difference may be attributed to the availability of water in the subsurface layers carrying the water and the quantities of water that leaked into the ground (11).

In addition, the Aflaj are characterized with the continuity of water flow all over the day and year to the farms without cost or human effort after construction and this gives economical return that helps in the division and distribution of shares of participants and owners (12) .

In the United Arab Emirates, the Aflaj are divided into three main types namely: the Ghailian, the Dawoedi or Addiya and the Ainiya or Hadawiya (Figure 8, 9, 10). The surface waters running at the tops of valleys are the water source of a Ghailian falaj such as Al Haili and this type of Aflaj is given this name because they are seasonal aflaj connected with the fall of rain.
 
The water source of the Dawoedi falaj is the underground shallow reserve or what is known as Um Al Falaj such as the aflaj of Mizyed, Dawoedi, Buraimi and Sara. The Dawoedi Falaj is characterized by that its water flows continuously throughout the year as they are not affected by rainfall and the Dawoedi aflaj has branches or tributaries that pour in it for feeding the agriculture lands (13). Natural springs represent the water source for the Ainy falaj such as Buskhana falaj (14).
 


 
1. Al Bahri, 2007
2. Al Sulaimi, 1997
3. Al Hammouz and others, 2008
4.Interview with Saeed Juma Fahd, 2006
5. Al Ain Municipality, Sultan Al Kuwaiti, 2012
6. Cressey, 1958
7. Al-Ghafri et al., 2000
8. INPIM, 2006
9. Al Ghafri et al., 2000
10. ibid
11. Al Bahri, 2007
12.  Al Aidaros, 1992
13. ibid
14.  Al Ghafri, 2005


Construction of Al Aflaj

 
Al falaj is an artificial channel of which width is 2-4 foot and the underground water gathers in it by penetration and then slope down to the end of the channel. Along these channels, openings are dug where the distance separating each one from the other according to the available quantity of water (Figure 11). 
 
Upon digging these openings, it is observed that they are from down and upwards and this is called Al Thiqab. These channels extend along the distance for which the water is intended to be transported and they can be easily identified by the mark made above them and that look like hills as shown in Figure 12. From this opening, the workers come down to maintain and clean the runway of the tunnel and remove the sludge stuck in it or existing sands (Figure 13). In additions, these Thiqab are used as windows that allow the entry of air for the ventilation of the tunnel’s runway and usually, the distance between one Thaqba and the other is about twenty meters depending on the extent of down slope of land and the type of materials that the diggers face during digging. The falaj branches out when it reaches the surface into courses or pillars that in their turn separate into secondary pillars that serve to facilitate the arrival of water to the farms. The areas close to the mountain base are considered the most appropriate for digging the falaj (15).
 
Al Awamir tribe is one of the tribes that are famous in the field of construction of aflaj due to their excellent care in building and maintaining them and their ability to work hardly under conditions of high temperatures and humidity. There was big demand for their services at that time as they built or expanded about 80% of the aflaj in Al Ain and Oman. Most of digging works take place in the strong solid rocks and therefore Al Awamir are distinguished from other tribes and individuals in the area by carrying out this hard work that requires using the hammer and chisel and due to the risks that the worker faces during digging such as the presence of poisonous snakes or falling rocks or lack of sufficient lighting. Al Awamir have high ability and sufficiency in knowledge of underground springs that enables them increase the water running to the aflaj as they are able to identify the places where underground water is pooling. It is worth mentioning that the people do not interfere in the affairs and work of Al Awamir. In addition, Al Awamir do not work for daily wages as they have their own way in determining the expenses of the falaj depending on the type of the cross section of digging, its depth and quality of rocks and degree of solidity (16).
 
 

 
15. Al Aidaros, 1992
16. Al Aidaros, 1992
 
 
 

Social and administrative system of Aflaj

 
 
The aflaj system in the United Arab Emirates and the countries of the Arabian Peninsula is considered a successful social and economic system and our forefathers settled down near the sources of water (17). This homogeneous social system depends on the fair distribution of water among all members of the society. Fairness in distribution of water had helped in building a bonded society in the region and also helped in the development of craft and agricultural skills among individuals. Among the characteristics of the aflaj system is that it led to planting the spirit of cooperation between individuals and led also to the provision of financial source for families. The aflaj system also helped in the establishment of a system to settle difference and disputes between the individuals related to water shares and the obligatory maintenance of the aflaj by the establishment of an integrated administrative system that runs the falaj.
 
In addition, the falaj represents a social establishment with an administrative and organizational structure to run the affairs of the establishment where the falaj is managed by the agent (manager) or as called “Abul Falaj” (18). In addition, the falaj system has a collector or book keeper or an accountant as known today, the monitor or assistant and workers or Baydir. There are two monitors one of whom takes care of subsurface service of the falaj such as the maintenance of the tunnel or the Thuqba and the other monitor takes care of the surface service and carries out the maintenance of the surface aflaj (Figure 14). Administrative structures are made for large aflaj, but the small ones, they may be run by just one man (19) (20) (21).
 
The agent is considered as the executive manager of the falaj while the monitor inspects the wells and irrigation timings and also, he informs landlords of their shares and determines the timings of circulation of water. As for the collector, he is responsible for the registration of all financial affairs of the falaj.
 
 

 
17. Orchard & Stanger, 1999
18. Al Khaleej Newspaper, Issue 11569, 2011
19. Sutton, 1984
20. INPIM, 2004
21. Al-Ghafri et al., 2000
22. Al-Ghafri et al., 1999 
 

Applications of aflaj water

 
Al Aflaj water is considered the main source for decent living as the water running in the channels of surface aflaj are used for human consumption as they were distributed among the houses and then the distribution continues to the areas of permanent agriculture activity for irrigation (Figure 15). Most of aflaj water is used for drinking and what remains is taken to mosques and other applications and then to washing areas . This distribution helped the farmers in saving quantities of water for emergency and for drought periods (23).
 
In the past water was divided and distributed by the monitor of the falaj by Al Najm or Athar and the division takes place from the time of sunrise until sunset and it is called “Badah” and from the sunset to sunrise and it is also called “Badah”. The Badah is divided into four quarters and it is called spring and a spring is divided into six parts. Some Arabs had a share of water sufficient to irrigate their farms while others do not find what is sufficient to irrigate his plants so he irrigates the same from Al Masharie. Al Masharie is four Badat. The rent of a single Badah is AED 48 and the rent of spring is AED 12 and each one sixth is rented for Two Dirham. The monitor of the falaj collects the rent and uses the same for cleaning the falaj and Al Khawada (24) .
 

 


 
{C}23.{C} Wilkinson, 1977
24. Al Ain Municipality, interview with Sultan Al Kuwaiti, 2012 
 

Maintenance of Aflaj

 
In the past, maintenance of al falaj was considered an important task needed for the continuity of flow of water in the Shirea (the point where the water surfaces) of the falaj and ensure that the water reaches to the people and agricultural lands. When the water moves from the underground, some sand granules and impurities mix with the water particles that may precipitate with the water movement in the Shirea (Figure 16, 17). The continuation of the process of precipitation of sand with the water movement in the shirea the falaj is filled and in the local accent this is called “Tah Al Falj” (i.e. the falaj had fallen). In this case, the people are informed of the same and they clean the falaj. The persons working on cleaning the falaj carry shovels and Jafeer (container made of palm leaves for carrying sand).

In addition, the monitor of the falaj brings dates and coffee and prepares food for the workers. After lunch, the workers resume the work until sunset and they sleep on the site of the falaj if they did not finish cleaning the falaj. The monitor of the falaj informs the people if the sand was light and of micro size and this is known as “calling” and at present it is called “bidding”. The monitor of the falaj makes the calling from the Thaqba and everyone gives his price and the work is awarded to the lowest price. After that, the monitor pays the amount in Dirham as agreed to the people who were awarded after cleaning the falaj from the micro sand and Tay (covering) the Thiqab (25) .

Al Khawada

Al Khawada (plunging into) is known as coming down from Um Al Falaj to Shirea in order to inspect the runway of the falaj and identify the place of sands. Every person is provided with (Das) to cut the leaves, a cane to kill the snakes he faces in the runway of the falaj and lantern for lighting (Figure 18) (26) ; the Das is the scythe used in harvesting (27).

Tay (coverning) Al Thiqab

Al Thaqba is the opening of the well from the surface and the Tay Al Thiqab process is made using pebbles and Sarouj that is made by bringing palm trunk (Figure 19) and blocks are made of clay then the pebbles are placed above the palm trunk and the clay blocks are stacked above trunk in a manner that leaves an opening from each side of about one foot and then Zoor and palm leaves are placed in it and this process is known as “Al Saourj Furnace”. If there is no appropriate air, fire is made on four sides and after four days the same is sprayed with water from the outside and the clay that was not touched by fire shall be cleaned and separated. In addition, the burnt clay blocks shall be placed on square wood from Acacia trees and mixed with the pebbles or noura and it the mixture is called “Sarouj”. After mixing, the mixture becomes stronger than cement because it components are from earth and are not affected by heat or cold (28).



 
25. Al Ain Municipality, interview with Sultan Al Kuwaiti, 2012 
26. ibid
27. Al Hammouz and others, 2008
28. Al Ain Municipality, interview with Sultan Al Kuwaiti, 2012 
 
 

Al Aflaj in Al Ain City

 
Al aflaj spread in Al Ain City (AKA City of Oases) (Figure 20) and since aflaj are spreading through Al Ain City it was called the City of the Seven Aflaj. The main aflaj are: Al Aini, Al Dawoedi, Al Muatarid, Al Muwaijee, Al Jimi, Al Qattara and Al Hili. Accordingly, Al Ain City is the city that includes the large number of aflaj in the United Arab Emirates. The existence of aflaj was associated with the oasis of Al Ain because the aflaj supply the oasis with water. Al Aini and Al Dawoedi aflaj feed Al Ain Oasis while the oasis of Al Muatarid, Al Muwaijee, Al Jahili, Al Jimi, Al Qattara and Al Hili are supplied by the aflaj of Al Muatarid, Al Muwaijee, Al Jahili, Al Jimi, Al Qattara and Al Hili consecutively (29).
 
The aflaj system was discovered and used for the purposes of irrigation for more than one thousand year where a main irrigation channel was discovered near an archeological site close to Hili Park that dates back to the first half of the first thousand BC (30). The aflaj are mostly located near the agricultural areas and oases to support the agricultural activities in the area. This led to the activation of the trading exchange activity in the area. The construction and use of aflaj in irrigation are associated with the construction of historical buildings. The rulers, consecutively, constructed a big group of forts, castles and towers to protect the water sources and agricultural lands (31)
 
Most of the aflaj in Al Ain are located to the north of Hafit Mountain while the Ainiya and Dawoedi aflaj in Al Ain area are located to north east of Hafit Mountain. These afalj are located in the pebbly planes near the mountain areas close to the main feeding locations that receive more quantities of rain that supply the underground reserves in the area.
 
In Al Ain there are about 300 falaj but most of them had dried (32) . Currently the records show that there are twenty seven falaj  (33) (34) (35)    
as follows: Ain Busihana, Hili, Raki, Ghusabi, Muatalij, Hinyami, Khuzami, Um Al Madr, Al Mowaijie, Al Muatarid, Al Qattara, Al Jimi, Al Aini (Al Sarouj), Al Dawoedi, Al Masoudi, Al Jahli, Al Buraimi, Falaj Hzzaa, Mizyid, Saa, Al Surrah, Wadi Al Hamam, Wadi Al Jabib, Al Mazimi, Saarah, Al Kuwaitat and Al Hili Fun City. The depth of the aflaj that our grandfathers had dug range between 90 and 95 foot from the ground surface through the vertical holes (wells) that at the depth connect through the horizontal holes within rocky tunnel that extends for several kilometers.
 
The runway of the falaj begins at the spring of the falaj (um al falaj) and ends at the location of emergence of water at the surface (al shirea). The water moves according to the slope of the ground while under the surface it moves in circular path and turns its course at every distance in order to make the water movement moderate with strong momentum. The water moves from the underground to the shirea in the middle of the agricultural areas and the water level in the shirea ranges between 1.5 and 2 foot and the level increases after rainfall (36) . The waters of Al Muatarid, Al Muwaijie, Al Jimi and Al Qattara aflaj move from east to west while the water of Al Hili falaj moves from north east to south west while the Dawoedi falaj moves from the south east to the north west. As for Ain Busikhana falaj, it moves from south to north and the Mizyid falaj moves from north to south (37) (38).
 
Ums (mothers) of al falaj of Al Ain are located near Um Sadeera at the south of the farm of H.H. Sheikh Hamdan bin Zayed Al Nahyan from the west and before the ums were located at Al Maragh area while the ums of Al Dawoedi falaj, they are located at the west of the farm of H.H. Sheikh Hamdan bin Zayed Al Nahyan and before they were located in the area of ums of Al Dawoedi at the south east of the City of Ain. The Ums of Al Muatarid falaj are located near the police station of the old Murabbaa (near Al Murabbaa Prison) while the ums of Al Muwaijie falaj, they are located to the east of the farm of the Late Abdullah bin Ghannoum near the old Passports Department in Humaira area at the city center. In addition the ums of Al Jahili falaj are located next to the Maintenance Division of the Agriculture Department to the east and passes through the form of Sheikh Ahmad bin Hamid. As for Al Jimi falaj, its ums are located near the form of Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed al Nahyan from the north east and passes through Al Buraimi Province in the Sultanate of Oman.
 
The ums of Al Qattara falaj are located near the blocks factor to the south of Saaraa in the Province of Al Buraimi in the Sultanate of Oman while the ums of Hili falaj are located to the east of Al Foua until Hili. In addition, the ums of Mizyid falaj are located within the water courses of Mizyid area to the north east while the ums of Saa falaj of Saa form are located to the east until Raddat Saa on the borders of Oman. The depth of the falaj at the ums of the falaj ranges between 90 and 95 foot (39). Table 2 shows the length and width of some aflaj in Al Ain City where the lengths range between 2000 in Mizyid falaj to 15000 meters in Al Sarouj falaj while the width ranges from 0.65 in Al Hili falaj to 1.2 Meters in Ain Busikhana falaj. Al Sarouj falaj is considered one of the longest aflaj that irrigates an area of palm farms and the ums of this falaj are located near Um Sadira to the south of the farm of Sheikh Hamdan bin Zayed from the west and earlier its source was in Maragh area(40) (41) . Table 3 shows the lengths of courses of the aflaj in Al Ain city and they range between 393 at the tributary of Al Raki falaj and 8370 meters at Al Aini falaj (42).
 
 
Table 2 – Length and width of some registered aflaj in Al Ain Area
 

The falaj

Width (Meter)

Length (Meter)

Ain Busikhana

1.2

3000

Al Hili

0.65

10000

Al Aini (Al Sarouj)

0.8

15000

Al Dawoedi

0.8

7000

Al Buraimi

1

9000

Mizyid

0.75

2000

Al Surra

0.95

6500

 
 
Table 3 – Length of courses of some aflaj in Al Ain City
 

Al Falaj

Length of course of the falaj (Meter)

Al Aini (Al Sarouj)

8370

Al Dawoedi

5100

Al Muatarid

3615

Al Jahili

3053

Al Muwaijie

3767

Al Jimi

4972

Al Hili

7284

Al Raki

7198

Alaini falaj tributary

2380

Al Raki falaj tributary

393

 
Al Aflaj in Al Ain City feeds the oasis connected to it with the water sufficient to plant the palm where the number of palm trees connected to Al Aini and Al Dawoedi aflaj amounts to 75171 trees, Al Jimi falaj feeds about 80713 trees while Al Muwaijie falaj feeds about 5351 trees. The six aflaj of Al Ain namely Al Aini, Al Dawoedi, Al Muatarid, Al Jimi, Al Qattara and Hili feed about 270339 palm trees (see Table 4). The number of Thiqab in every falaj varies as they range from 490 Thuqba to 9 Thuqba for each of Al Aini falaj and Al Qattara falaj consecutively. In addition the production capacity of the wells connected to the aflaj range between 900,000 gallon per day for Al Hili aflaj and 36,000 gallon per day for Al Qattara falaj (see Table 5) (43) .
 
Table 4 – Number of forms, palm trees and wells connected to some aflaj in Al Ain City
 

The falaj

Number of Palm Trees

Number of Farms

Oasis Area (Square Meter)

Al Aini

75171

538

Al Aini and Al Dawoedi aflaj feed a common area of 13085678 Sq. M

Al Dawoedi

Jointly with Al Aini

Jointly with Al Aini

Al Aini and Al Dawoedi aflaj feed a common area of 13085678 Sq. M

Al Muatarid

9245

141

507089

Al Jimi

80713

183

1053937

Al Hili

54145

249

1123457

Al Qattarai

45714

215

704495

Al Muwaijie

5351

9

 

Total

270339

1335

5002003

 
 
Table 5 – Number of Thiqab and wells and their production capacity for some aflaj in Al Ain 
 

The falaj

Number of Thiqab

Number of Wells

Production Capacity (gall/day)

Al Aini

490

13

300000

Al Dawoedi

188

15

350000

Al Muatarid

17

16

330000

Al Jimi

27

6

140000

Al Hili

86

43

900000

Al Qattarai

9

2

36000

Al Muwaijie

29

6

180000

Total

846

101

2184000

 
  
The pervious Rulers placed great attention on irrigation in Al Ain Area where Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed reconstructed and expanded the aflaj of Al Hili and Muwaijie and the work in Al Muwaijie falaj continued for about two full years while his son Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed built Al Masoudi falaj (44). The irrigation system, by using the aflaj, played a major role in listing Al Ain City in the UNESCO List of Global Human Culture in 2011 (45)
 

 
29. Al Ain Municipality, interview with Sultan Al Kuwaiti, 2012
30. Al Khaleej Newspaper, Issue 1166-, 2011
31. Abu Dhabi Tourism and Archeology Authority, 2013
32. Al Khaleej Newspaper, Issue 11569, 2011
33. Rizk, 1998
34. Al Ain Municipality, 2004
35. Al Khaleej Newspaper, Issue 11569, 2011
36. Al Ain Municipality, interview with Sultan Al Kuwaiti, 2012
37. Rizk, 1998
38. Al Nuaimi, 2003 
39.Al Ain Municipality, interview with Sultan Al Kuwaiti, 2012
40. Rizk, 1998
41. Environment Authority – Abu Dhabi 2006
42. Al Ain Municipality, interview with Sultan Al Kuwaiti, 2012 
43. Al Ain Municipality, 2012 
44. Al Aidaros, 1992
45. The Arabic National Geographic Magazine, Issue 31, 2013

The Role of Sheikh Zayed, Bless his soul, in maint

Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, Bless his soul, made great efforts while he exercised his responsibilities as the Ruler’s Representative in Al Ain to secure decent life to citizens and he worked on providing appropriate quantities of water for Al Ain as at that time water was very expensive. For this purpose, he developed and constructed the aflaj that were not developed since the era of Khalifa bin Zayed the First (46) (47).
 
At a certain period of time, the aflaj of Al Ain were subject to destruction and burial due to the tribal conflicts that were prevailing then and the falaj was called the dead falaj when its surface channels are filled with alluvium that limited the 
movement of water (48).
 
His Highness Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, Bless his soul, took care of maintaining the old aflaj and digging new wells for them, and also worked on constructing new aflaj in order to provide water for people and livestock also when he completed Al Thiqab (49).
 
The role of H.H. Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan in developing the aflaj became very apparent when was personally in charge of determining the Thiqab of the aflaj and order to dig and connect them with the main runway of the dead aflaj (50). H.H. was known for his experience, wits and intelligence and that was reflected in determining the locations of the underground waters under the feet of the mountains (51). The British officials followed up the achievements of Sheikh Zayed and included them in their periodical reports to their government. The report of the British Residency dated 31/03/1957 noted that when one of the officials visited Al Ain he inspected the aflaj and the same report pointed out Sheikh Zayed had repaired two of the three aflaj to increase the flow of water by cleaning and expanding Al Thiqab (52).
 
In addition, Edward Henderson, the Envoy of Iraq Oil Company who visited Al Ain on 27th of March 1960 wrote: “The British Government spent about 5000 Pounds on cleaning the aflaj but Sheikh Zayed was digging for new sources in addition to carrying out more cleaning works and this absorbs lots of money. I think maybe Zayed was spending about 50 Thousand Rupees per year since 1955” (53). Accordingly, it became possible to irrigate Al Muwaijie farms completely every three weeks after it was being irrigated once every five weeks (54).
 
In addition, Ranob, a British Official who visited Al Ain in November 1958 stated that: “there was lots of talking about the continuous efforts of Sheikh Zayed to improve the aflaj of Al Ain. We went by car near the spring where Zayed had earlier in this year planted for Thiqabs to improve its runway and I met Sultan Al Amiri the supervisor of Zayed workers. He showed us to addition Thiqabs being planted at that moment” (55) . In addition, Ahmad Qasim Al Bourini, a teacher who was talking about what he saw in the Emirates during the period 1953-1955 that Al Ain is supplied with two channels (aflaj) and noted that the two channels that supply Al Jimi and Al Qattara run under parts of Al Hilla and Hamasa (56).
 
The Late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan had provided the money sufficient to dig and construct the aflaj as he provided Sixty Thousand Rupees to build Al Ain falaj as shown through the letters of H.H. Sheikh Zayed to his brother Sheikh Shakhbout bin Sultan through his Envoy Ahmad bin Mahmoud. He also provided Seventy Five Thousand Rupees to build Al Aini and Al Dawoedi aflaj (57).
 
The efforts of H.H. Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan through giving attention to securing a decent life for the people of Al Ain bore fruit represented in digging Al Sarouj falaj (Al Aini) where the digging works in it started in 1948 and the work continued for about eighteen years (85) . This resulted in the increase in the flow of the falaj water by one third compared to the previous flow and in turn led to reducing the irrigation cycle to one half. After the palm trees were irrigated every sixty days the period was reduced to thirty six days. Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, Bless his soul, encouraged people to clean and purify the old afalaj and he used to provide them with pumps and tools necessary to reform new lands and agriculture (59).
 
The care of H.H. for the aflaj was very apparent when he brought specialists in digging aflaj from Al Awamir Tribe in the Sultanate of Oman. In addition, he used to come down himself in the well of the falaj to examine its fitness (60) . He used to personally supervise the maintenance of aflaj where he once came down into a well during the cleaning and maintenance of a falaj and he encouraged the workers by providing food and drink to those working on the falaj (61). Digging and maintaining the aflaj had many positive aspects that reflected on the people where the water became free to all after they used to pay tax (62). In addition, H.H. Sheikh Zayed cancelled the shares system applied I the aflaj system and employed persons with salaries to irrigate agricultural lands fairly and equally between all classes of society (63).
 
The care of H.H. Sheikh Zayed by Sultan Al Nahyan for aflaj was manifested in digging wells and Sulul through the Aflaj Division in Al Ain Municipality were a committee was formed for supervision and maintenance and supervisors and workers were appointed to irrigate the palm farms (64).
 

 
46.  Al Kaabi, 2008
47. Al Ain Magazine, Issue no. 53, 1993
48. Turath Magazine, Issue no. 69, 2004
49.  Al Dhafra Magazine, Issue no. 47, 2011
50. Al Kaabi, 2008
51. Al Ain Magazine, Issue no. 53, 1993
52. Al Faris 1, 2012
53. Selections of most important British documents, 148906/F0371, Volume 3, pp 304
54.  Al Faris 1, 2012
55. Selections of most important British documents, 1016/F0647, Volume 3, pp 301
56. Al Faris 2, 2012
57. National Documents and Research Center, Al Aflaj Documents 1965 and 1384H
58. Al Muhairi, 2002
59. Al Aidaros, 1992
60. Turath Magazine, Issue no. 69, 2004
61. Man Today Magazine, Issue no. 12, 2005
62. Al Kaabi, 2008
63.Al Khaleej Newspaper, Issue no. 11569, 2011
64. Al Ain Municipality, Interview with Sultan Al Kuwaiti, 2012

The Problems that face the Aflaj System in Al-Ain

The aflaj system depended on the shallow underground reserve close to the ground surface and therefore with the extensive pulling of the underground water and the lack in feeding the underground reserve by rain, the flow of the aflaj water became less and the quality of water deteriorated. 
 
This is due to the increase of demand on water as a result of the agricultural activities and the other activities in addition to the population growth in the area. As a result of the economic developed that had been and still being witnessed in the country, most of farmers shifted to easier jobs with high income and this in turn led to employing expatriate workforce for the maintenance and service of the aflaj.
 
Another group of farmers replaced the aflaj system with the electric pumps that operate on diesel to pump the underground water and irrigate the agricultural lands. The building and economic renaissance that Al Ain City is witnessing led to the transformation of areas of agricultural lands to building lands. In addition, knowledge of the afalj system was limited to the elders and grandfathers, but today’s generation had ignored knowledge of the aflaj system (66).
 

 
 
66.Murad, 2010

References

 
Arabic References:
 
- Al Bahri, Salem bin Saeed (2007), the aflaj and their importance in the Sultanate of Oman, Al Falah Publishing and Distribution Library, Kuwait;
- Al Ain Municipality (2004), the aflaj and oasis of Al Ain; Protection and Laboratory Division, Public Parks Department;
- Al Ain Municipality, interview or personal contact – Sultan Ahmad Al Kuwaiti, 2012;
- Al Ain Municipality, Presentation titled: “data about the origins of the oasis and aflaj of Al Ain City, Aflaj and Oasis Division;
- Al Khaleej Newspaper (2011); Weekly Break; pp 6, Issue no. 11569, Friday 17th Sifr 1432H corresponding to 21st January 2011;
- Al Khaleej Newspaper (2011); Weekly Break; pp 6, Issue no. 11660, Friday 18th Jamadi Awal 1432H corresponding to 22nd April 2011;
- Al Hammouz, a, Al Qaisi, F, Al Jabri, Sh (2008), Dictionary of terms and origin of accent in Emirates; Revision: Mohammed Al Murr, First Edition, Issues of Zayed Heritage and History Center;
- Al Sulaimi, Mahfouz bin Abdullah (1997); Organization and administration of Aflaj in the Sultanate of Oman; General Administration Institute, Muscat;
- Al Aidaros, Mohammed Hassan (1992); Aflaj in Al Ain City; Al Mutanabbi Printing House; Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates;
- Al Ghafri, A (2005); Omani Aflaji; Nazwa Magazine, October, Issue no. 44, pp 11-20;
- Al Faris, Mohammed Faris 1 (2012); Zyed in the British Documents; Printing Group; Third Edition;
- Al Faris, Mohammed Faris 2 (2012); Travelers and Politicians who visited the Emirates and the Gulf before oil, First Edition;
- Al Kaabi, Hilal Humaid bin Saed (2008); Genius of Zayed in Agriculture and Environment – Historical Study of Genius of Zayed in Agriculture and Environment, First Edition, Emirates Printing Press, Dubai, United Arab Emirates;
- Man of Today Magazine (2005); The Two Guardians of the Aflaj; Issue no. 12, June; pp 163-168, United Arab Emirates;
- Al Dhafra Magazine, Historical Roots of the South Eastern Region (Al Ain and beyond) – Abdullah bin Mohammed Al Muhairi; pp 60-67, Issue no. 47, 2011, United Arab Emirates;
- Selections of most important British documents, 148906/F0371, Henderson’s Report about development of Al Ain by Sheikh Zayed, from the British Mandate House in Abu Dhabi 27/03/1960, Volume 3, pp 304;
- Selections of most important British documents, 1016/F0647, Report from I R Ranob, Al Etimad Al Siyasi House, Abu Dhabi, 11th November 1958, Volume 3, pp 301;
- Arabic National Geographic Magazine (2013), Arab Peninsula Aflaj, Volume Eight, Issue no. 31, April 2013; pp 64-75;
- National Documents and Research Center, Al Aflaj Documents for 1965 and 1384H;
- Al Muhairi, Fatima Suhail (2002), Zayed from Al Ain to Abu Dhabi: A March that Made History; Turath Magazine, Issue no. 45, August; Pp 16-24;
- Abu Dhabi Tourism and Archeology Authority, Information about the Oasis in Al Ain, 2013;
- Environment Authority – Abu Dhabi (2006); Current conditions of aflaj in the Area of Al Ain – United Arab Emirates; Unpublished internal report.
 
 
Foreign References:
 
-    Al-Ghafri, A. S.; Norman, W. R.; Inoue, T. and Nagasawa, T. (1999). Traditional irrigation sechuleing in aflaj irrigation systems of Oman: Case study of Falaj Al-Hageer, Northern Oman. Proceeding of the First International Symposium on Qanat, Volume IV, pp. 37-42, Ministry of Energy, Yazd, Iran, May 8-11, 1999.
-    Al-Ghafri, A. S.; Inoue, T. and Nagasawa, T. (2000). The way of water distribution. The XIV Memorial CIGR World Congress, November 28 – December 1, 2000, Tsukuba, Japan, pp. 1128-1133. Sponsored by International Commission of Agricultural Engineering (CIGR) and Science Council of Japan.
-    Al-Nuaimi, H. S. (2003). Hydrogeological and geophysical studies on Al Jaww Plain, Al Ain area, UAE. UAE University, Faculty of Graduate Studies, M.Sc. in Water Resources, Master thesis.
-    Cressey, G. B. (1958). Qanat, Karez and Foggaras. Geographical Review, 48, pp. 27-44.
-    International Network on Participatory Irrigation Management (INPIM). (2004). Aflaj irrigation systems.
http://www.inpim.org/leftlinks/FAO/Newsletters/N12/n12a9
Date of log on:  21/5/2006.
-    Ministry of Regional Municipalities, Environment and Water Resources
(MRMEWR). (2001). Aflaj inventory project summary report, Muscat, Oman.
-    Murad, A. A. (2010). Water management using falajs (man-made streams). Ovidius University Annals Series: Civil Engineering, Volume 1, Issue 12, June 2010, pp. 327-334.
-    Orchard, J. and Stanger, G. (1999). Al-Hajar Oasis Towans Again. Iraq, Vol. LXI, pp. 89-119.
-    Rizk, Z. E. (1998).  Falajes of United Arab Emirates: geological setting and hydrogeological characteristics. The Arabian Journal for Science and Engineering, Vol. 23, No. 1C, pp. 3-25.
-    Sutton, S. (1984). The falaj a traditional co-operative system of water management. Waterlines, Vol. 2, No. 3.
-    Wilkinson, J. C. (1977). Water and tribal settlement in South-East Arabia. Clarendon Press, Oxford.