Saturday, May 4, 2013

Why people die in wadis---a video linked to youtube

Alhamdulilah, in all my time in Oman, I've never had anyone I know die in a wadi. But I've known people who very nearly did, or who had a friend or family member who died trying to save someone who was stupid enough to venture into a wadi bed when there was still a warning in effect. And I was here for Gonu.

This is worth mentioning for those new to Oman, who've recently begun to explore the country... Wadis are wonderful places... but in light of the recent rains it is worth pointing out, they can also become suddenly dangerous.

I am a wadi-person myself. [Every other weekend I am out and about the Sultanate hiking up or picnicking in a new wadi.] So let me explain the above statement.


So what is a wadi?

Wadi is an Arabic term for a dry river bed. A wadi may have some water in it, or none at all. But it does fill up with water when it rains.

There are a lot of wadis in Oman, even in Muscat. Al Qurum is built in a wadi, Bausher and Al Athaiba have a wadi, Darsait, Wadi Al Kabir... Al Khoud also has a wadi, and Al Hail a small one. Most of the Muscat wadis only become significantly strong when there are hurricanes though, so you may not have even noticed beyond wondering why the roads flooded last week.

In Ad Dhakliyia [the Interior] it is almost every year I hear of some hiker who died in Snake Canyon. That is because people often misunderstand or misjudge wadis.

This being a hot country, swimming in a water body freshly filled with recent rains and now calm, is always appealing, and is one of the finest joys for local Omani families. That is how my family and I spent our weekend.

But there are two things to consider before choosing to go into a wadi. Firstly, does the local area have a wadi warning in effect, i.e have the local authorities advised people not to go down into wadis?

Please note, this cannot be judged by seeing if there are people IN the wadis. Many idiots will actually take their families out swimming (as in the video above where several young children are in the wadi bed when the flash flood comes sweeping in at Fanja's wadi) when there is a wadi warning in effect. These warnings are often issued by text message in Arabic from the defense or ROP.

Secondly, is it raining in the mountains up from the area you are choosing to go down into?

As in the case of Snake Canyon wadi for example, it is ALWAYS a bright and shining day with no wadi warning in effect when someone drowns. This is because the flood from the mountains moves fast. It can be clear and bright and beautiful down in the wadi but the danger comes from where the weather is where the water flows down from.

People often think, 'oh it is just water and I am a good swimmer.'

My bestfriend was in Al Amerat on opposite sides of the wadi from me when a famous diver and excellent swimmer drowned trying to rescue a family from the wadi there... four years ago was it now?

And while I will personally blame hurricane Gonu for the many friends lost from villages near Qurayat, just as many I didn't know died thinking their Toyota sedan or even their Hummer could stand up to the force of the flow.

People forget it isn't just water carried off in the force of a flash flood. Many things are pulled along, cars, trees, and you can hit your head and get stuck and bashed along the way.

Please, please, please get to know and understand Oman's weather, and wadi conditions, especially during a period of rain or serious weather, even if not directly in the area of the wadi you'd like to explore or cross over.

Much love,


Here is the link to the video if you could not view it:


The Duncan Adventures said...

So sad that people die because of this, it is great of you to highlight just how dangerous it can be and that conditions can change very quickly.

After crazy heavy rain and storms for over a week and people dying and being washed away, I got a message yesterday from the Public Authority for Civil Defense and Ambulance (PACDA) telling people to get out the Wadi's. They need to be quicker off the mark next time!

Marinab said...

What an informative, well written blog - well done! The youtube clip is excellent and shows clearly how fast the water can descend upon a seemingly peaceful wadi bed! I've put a link to this on my facebook and also on my blog's facebook page - hope it gets you some more readers, everyone living in Oman and the UAE should read this!

Omani Princess (not Omani...yet) said...

Duncan Adventures: The English messages are always soooo late. The Arabic ones tend to be a little faster. If we were left to depend on the English warnings and news and had no common sense, we expats would all die, lol.

Ok, that probably ISN'T funny, but I think during a hurricane here, there was no news beyond the English blogs unless one watched Oman TV 24/7 to get 5 minute warnings every 4 hours off.

Omani Princess (not Omani...yet) said...

Marinab: thank you. I hope everyone stays careful.