United Arab Emirates

Al Falaj: Water Systems of the Gulf's Oases

A vast system of planned irrigation once stretched across the Gulf, bringing water and vitality to desert communities. ‘Al Falaj: Water Systems of the Gulf's Oases’ showed how it could again be relevant to the UAE's rapidly globalising cities.

Based on studies of the few authentic examples of falaj channels still in use, the exhibition explored how the idea could be adapted for use today. As well as an effective agricultural system, Al Falaj is a utopian idea in nature. Applied over centuries of development, the channels have become places where public and private realms meet, facilitating exchange. It is also a fair way of dividing water, a measured way of allocating resources in a hot and dry climate.

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Photography: Ed Reeve


Administering Body:

Cultural Engineering

Design Team:

Cultural Engineering

Case Design


Rashid Bin Shabib

Ahmed Bin Shabib

Samuel Barclay

Anne Geenen

Supporting Body:

Embassy of the UAE in London, UK

2016 Exhibitors