In the lap of tranquility
Featuring prominently on the list of places of both historic significance and scenic beauty in Oman is the village of Al Bana in the wilayat of Ibri in the Governorate of Dhahirah. Located about 50km to the east from the centre of the wilayat, it is surrounded by mountains. Visitors can reach the village via Wadi al Ain, which is about 35km away from the highway that connects Muscat and Ibri.
The Al Bana settlement has features to tell visitors about a remarkable heritage. There are a number of old mosques in the village, the most prominent being the Al Bana Mosque and the Ilzam Mosque, in addition to a number of towers – the Al Jami Tower, Al Qrain Tower and Al Junat Tower.
According to Ali bin Said al Meqrashi, one of the village's sheikhs, Al Bana has been provided several government services, including health, education and roads. “It has a population of 4,200 people, 90 per cent of who live in the centre of the of the settlement. The rest live in the outskirts of Al Bana, in agricultural areas.”
Residents of Al Bana are known for their friendly nature, Meqrashi said. “The villagers always greet visitors warmly in a reflection of the famed Omani hospitality which has been known since ancient times.”
The villagers are proud agriculturists and have held on to their traditional occupation over generations. “The profession of their parents and grandparents continues to this day, growing palm trees among others, and instilling the love of agriculture in their children. So children are often seen with their parents helping them to water the crops and other agricultural activities,” Meqrashi said. “A number of villagers also raise livestock, including sheep, cattle and camels, and can be seen around Al Bana as they take their animals out to graze. Some villagers also engage in commercial activities.”
Al Bana has vast agricultural lands – citrus fruit orchards, palm groves, mango and banana plantations, as well as large farmlands to grow animal feed, corn, alfalfa and wheat among others.
Villagers of Al Bana depend on falaj water for the irrigation of their farms. There are a number of aflaj in the village, including Falaj al Hilo and Falaj al Murr, which have a steady flow of water throughout the year. There are a number of springs too, the most well known of which is the Al Murr Spring.
Visitors from far and near are wooed by Al Bana who come to see its beautiful streams flowing through rocky beds to the sounds of birds chirping with abandon gay in unspoiled nature.