by Phil Iddison
Several falaj watchtowers are still in existence in Al Ain. They are usually
located close to the point where the falaj enters the oasis and on high ground.
Falaj security was paramount and the towers enabled at least some of the route of
the falaj to be watched at times of disturbance whilst still being in touch with
the local community. There do not appear to have been towers all along the route
of the falaj which could stretch for kilometres.
Examples can be found at Hili, Qatarra and Jimi. They are simple round or rectangular
towers constructed of mud brick with some use of stone. The entrance was usually
at second storey level in common with many other fortified towers in the Emirates.
Access was by means of a rope thrown down the side of the tower and toeholds in
the tower surface.
The Qatarra tower is on the south east corner of the oasis and is unrestored.
It is not very high but the top may have eroded and anyway it has a commanding position.
There are a number of restored and original mud brick dwellings along the east edge
of Qatarra oasis, they are behind the shabiya housing south of Qatarra club.
The Jimi tower is also on the south east corner of the oasis and seems to have
been restored some time ago. It now has a ground floor entrance but this is not
original as the old entrance can still be seen above and to the left. This is a
tall tower and is located near the Jimi fort which has also been restored.
There are two towers at Hili quite close to each other, tribal rivalry perhaps?
They are on the north side of the oasis, the falaj originates to the north of Hili
Fun City. One is square the other rectangular, each on its own mound with entrances
at ground level facing the oasis. Both have been restored quite recently and the
rectangular is occupied by a watchman. They are clearly visible from the east-west
dual carriageway which bisects Hili district.