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Oasis
Arabic: ha
Hebrew: nave



Figuig Oasis, Morocco.
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Palm fields of Figuig Oasis, Morocco.

Lake in the Dakhla Oasis, Egypt.
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Lake in the Dakhla Oasis, Egypt.

Mountain of the dead in Siwa Oasis, Egypt.
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Mountain of the dead in Siwa Oasis, Egypt.

Key hole well with an electric pump. Kharga oasis, Egypt.
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Key hole well with an electric pump in Kharga Oasis.

Satellite view of Ouargla Oasis, Algeria.
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Satellite view of Ouargla Oasis, Algeria. Photo : NASA.

Major oases
INHABITANTS
Siwa, Egypt 20,000
Dakhla, Egypt 75,000
Kharga, Egypt 100,000
Ghadames, Libya 20,000
Ghat, Libya 25,000
Kufra, Libya 60,000
Sebha, Libya 150,000
Tozeur, Tunisia 40,000
Nefta, Tunisia 30,000
Gabes, Tunisia 120,000
M'zab, Algeria 360,000
In Salah, Algeria 50,000?
Figuig, Morocco 25,000
Smara, Western Sahara 40,000
Tidjikja, Mauritania 15,000
Palmyra, Syria 40,000
Damascus, Syria 3 million
Buraymi, Oman & UAE (see Al-Ain) 480,000
Ha'il, Saudi Arabia 230,000
al-Hasa, Saudi Arabia 600,000
Riyadh, Saudi Arabia 3.6 million
Liwa, UAE 50,000-150,000

A fertile area located in a desert area. An oasis is the product of fresh water being available from underground reservoirs.
In some oases the ground water is close enough to the surface to allow plant roots to reach it. In other oases, the ground water reach the surface and forms springs or pools.
Some oasis are only partially oasis, in the sense that they have underground supplies of water together with water coming from rivers or lakes, like in Fayoum Oasis, Egypt. Modern times have introduced pumps in many oases, either to expand agriculture into infertile land or as a measure to keep up supplies where falling ground water has stopped the natural supply of water.
Many oases are very fertile, due to constant supplies of water and hot climate with much sun. The actual agriculture in oases call for a great deal of human engineering, especially with irrigation and the removal of salines.
Agriculture in oases is dominated by date palms, but there is a great variety of other crops, including citrus fruits, figs, peaches, apricots, vegetables and cereals like wheat, barley and millet.
The population of the oases vary much, from a few hundred, like in Qara Oasis, Egypt to several million, like in Damascus, Syria.
Up until modern times, the oases of large deserts were stopping points for caravans. Then the oases was in constant contact with other urban settlements. With the decline of the caravan traffic through the 20th century, many oasis communities gradually lost contact with the outside world. Contact was not reestablished until roads were constructed. In Egypt, some oases were not connected with roads until the 1980s.




By Tore Kjeilen