Main Article Content
Throughout the history of Oman, water has played a major role in the settlement and the subsistence economy of a limited number of Omanis. This has been manifested by the emergence of hundreds of hamlets, villages and towns around water springs and aflaj and along wadis and mountain wadi terraces. Despite low subsistence levels, the population was quite well distributed with close interdependency between the settlements especially in the north of the country and in Dhofar. However, this close dependency on the natural resources has not substantially permitted the development of these human concentrations or the expansion of small towns to reach the level of cities. They have remained very limited and unable to promote their urban functions. Thus, a traditional discordant and precarious settlement system has prevailed, which seems to reflect a geographical space subdivided into tribal entities and the like. With the Omani renaissance, which has witnessed socio- economic development, water has once again emerged as a main factor in population mobility and distribution. Different development processes have led to the emergence of a new urban system, which has assumed a major role in enhancing Oman?s geographical space and in the national territorial unity.