Ouled Said Oasis In Algeria
Water is a lifeblood of desert, and hundreds of oases that are scattered across the Sahara resemble fertile islands in the desert. Usually the oasis looks very romantic: green palm trees with a crystal clear source where nomads fill their water supplies before they go on their way.
It is an idyllic scene that is not entirely correct, as some oasis, like Ouled Said in Algeria, have long been a living place and agriculture area.
The palm trees and vegetable gardens make the oasis Ouled Said very attractive. Around oasis is a big contradiction. There are big dunes rising like waves in the sandy sea, and the untiring sun rises temperature up to 49°C during summer. A passenger who would be found here without protection from sunlight and without water would die from dehydration within 48 hours.
People who settled in Ouled Said are mainly engaged in vegetable growing and fruit growing. On irrigated land they cultivated vegetables, grapes, figs, peaches and oranges, as well as dates, most prestigious agricultural crops in the desert.
Among the palm plantations still standing pillars; marking the place where slaves were traded; they have been working hard to build irrigation canals that have made the soil fertile. The canals run the water beneath the ground, in a huge sandy “sponge” which is in some places thick up to 1800 m.
It is said that the dates tree likes to stand with head in the fire and feet in the water. Just like the camels; dates are necessary for life in the desert, and because of its importance people are respectfully treated to them.
There are many myths and legends about the dates. One legend about the dates says that God commanded Adam, after expelling him from heaven, to cut off his hair and nails and bury them, and tree with dates fruits grew in that place.
Date palm – tree of Life
It is believed that the tree dates are closely related. If one tree fade, the tree that is nearby no longer gives fruit. The female tree also fade, if male tree fall away. The fruit of this precious tree is the main local foodstuff, and apart from being eaten fresh, the dates can be dried and grinded in flour. No part of the tree is thrown away.
The juice of some sort of dates is sweet syrup and the juice of young palms can be fermented into very delicious and strong wine.
Dates are grown eight thousand years ago and started off the Arabian Peninsula.
The average palm should take about seven years to begin to produce fruits containing one large seed from which palm can generally be cultivated, though the palm planted on this way does not guarantee the same fruit quality.
Foggare – tunnels for water
For centuries, the inhabitants of the desert extracted underground waters by digging the tunnels called “foggare”, and these tunnels run water to the oasis.
The tunnels can be 16 km long and can be set up 30 meters below the ground level. Large numbers of people make it, and many of them were slaves that used only simple tools.
Today is the problem of maintaining this system. Channels are often clogged and need to be extended in order to get more water.
Water from the “foggare” appears near the irrigated soil, so water vapor is reduced to the smallest possible extent.