Manah 2009

Manah 2009

The walled city of Manah has been a regular part of the ENHG Nizwa weekend for several years. The abandoned collection of houses, shops and mosques is now being carefully restored.

The University of Liverpool has been studying the city's streetscape for several years; a publication of its research is expected later in 2009.

Each house in the city -- and there are approximately 65 houses -- has its own well. Navigating around the city includes walking along impressive streets and through arched passageways.

A small section inside the walled city was reserved for agriculture; the remains of the well, reservoir and falaj system are still visible. In a corner of this section of the city workers are preparing the mud bricks used in the reconstruction work.

The main entranceway to the city is marked by a spectacular square tower while other corners of the complex are marked by stone towers plastered with mud.

In many of the houses, there are blankets, storage boxes and the remains of pottery vessels. In addition, along the interior walls of most houses are small alcoves, the roof of which is still covered with soot, evidence these once held small oil lamps. The interior rooms are decidedly dark though cool. Most of the houses are at least two stories tall.

Several mosques are also being restored. These are decorated with spectacular wall engravings.

The Ministry of Tourism's booklet on the Dhakiliya district notes that the walled city we visit is actually Harrat Al Bilad; Manah is the Wilyat that is composed of 10 villages with a total population of approximately 10,000 residents.

"The most interesting part of Manah is in the old area of Harrat Al Bilad. A visit here is like stepping back in time," the brochure states. "The entire abandoned village, walled up for defence, still stands in all its past glory. Now deserted, many of its mud and rock houses are deteriorating, but you can wander through its arched alleyways, peep through the doorways, and imagine life here in the not-so-distant past."

One of the original gates

The side streets
between the houses

Ahead, one of the
coverage passageways

There are no windows
onto the streets

Some of the houses
have collapsed

A grinding stone

Inside one house, door
leaning against the wall

Shelving on a second-
storey wall

Houses bridged over
pedestrian walkways

Doors were still
attached in many doorways

Door bell

One of the
covered passageways

The timber ceiling framing
is visible

Many such passageways
remain in Manah

Mud plaster covers
the walls

Detail of the
ceiling construction

A narrow passageway

Restoration work began
last year

The original mud bricks and
date palm timbers visible

One of the more
spectacular arched streets

This passageway separates
the two exterior walls

The ends of timbers
visible above the arch

Some arches were peaked,
some rounded

Remains of a house that
once existed above

Blanket hanging from peg

Rubble spilled over
into the street

Metal drainpipe (right, above)
 suggests recent occupation

Second storey building

This house remains sealed

Light and shadows

The doors are gone but
the lock remains

Some houses are in
very poor condition

Second storey view

Pegs and alcove

The alcove once held
an oil lamp

Interior of one of
the mosques

Koranic inscription

Porcelain plate encased
in the wall


The farming area

View from the fields towards
the houses

View in farming area

Pottery in abundance

Falaj, reservoir and supports
of lifting device

Detail of the lifting device

Detail of reservoir

View from reservoir

Cement was used to construct
some of the aflaj

New mud bricks drying in
the sun

Traditional building
materials being used

The mud is cured before
the bricks are formed

Ruins of one house

Mud and straw mix

Arches alone remain

Sun breaking through
the collapsed roof

One of the decorated
ceiling supports

Door still in situ

Normal color tones

An interior corridor

An interior corridor

Corridor showing debris

Houses were very dark

Broken pot at bottom
of stairs to rooms above


Another staircase

Barasti roof material

Notice the timbers and use
of barasti

Peaked interior arch

Restoration work will take
several years to complete


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Patron: H.E. Sheikh Nahayan bin Mubarak Al Nahayan

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