Waha of Siwa, a historic isolated village



Sun, 27 May 2018 - 01:00 GMT


Sun, 27 May 2018 - 01:00 GMT

Underground water - Egypt Today/Hassan Moshali

Underground water - Egypt Today/Hassan Moshali

CAIRO – 26 May 2018: Qarat Umm El Sagheir, Al Waha, in Siwa Oasis is located about 270 km away in the northeast of Siwa. The village is isolated deep in the desert and is situated about 300 km southeast of Marsa Matruh.

There is no public transport but the village residents receive some assistance from the governor of Matruh and some other parties, along with the annual gifts from the presidency which are received by the Matruh’s governor to deliver to the people of Al Waha.

The gifts include food commodities and financial assistance to everyone in Al Waha.

The population of the Al Waha is estimated at 700 inhabitants. They are of Berber (Amazigh) origin and they speak the Amazigh language alongside the Arabic language. They have no work or activities other than planting palm trees, olive trees and some crops which satisfy their local consumption.

Al Waha residents live in one floored houses built with a mixture of salt and mud. Their houses are located close to the ancient houses which were inhabited by the ancestors of the residents.

The houses in Al Waha - Egypt TodayHassan Moshali.jpg

Men are engaged in the cultivation of palm trees and olive trees, using groundwater that is forced from the ground in a boiling state. The water is poured into a large basin to be stored until it cools down and then used for drinking and watering palm trees, olive trees and crops.

Al Waha depends on the aid delivered from the governorate and other parties. The people of Qarat Umm El Sagheir preserve their instinct and pride in their isolation and the state authorities seek to connect them with the rest of the country and provide them with services.

The last two decades witnessed the provision of some necessary services in the place, through the establishment of a school, a generator to illuminate the village, solar cells, and the provision of televisions so that people can follow up and monitor what happens in Egypt.

Lately, the governorate provided an ambulance in the village to transfer urgent conditions. In the past few years, Matruh provided a car to transport the villagers weekly to Siwa Oasis and return them on the second day. There are no means of communication between the village and the outside world, except for a telephone at the headquarters of the local unit used for emergencies.

The people of Umm El Sagheir get their needs from the surrounding environment and trade with each other by exchanging goods and services. They usually don't need to use money, only in limited cases or to get their needs from outside the Waha by travelling to Siwa or Marsa Matruh.

The school, which was established in the recent years, has contributed in educating the Qarat Umm El Sagheir children, as well as most of the adults. One of the residents received a high level of education after starting at an older age. He now works as a teacher in Qarat Umm El Sagheir School along with other teachers from outside Al Waha who stay at a guest house specialized for them.

Students in Qarat Umm El Sagheir School - Egypt TodayHassan Moshali.jpg

Major General Alaa Abu Zeid, governor of Matruh, confirmed that the people of Qarat Umm El Sagheir refuse to move to any other place that is associated with urbanization and services. He pointed out that previous governors offered the people to move to Siwa Oasis or any other place they choose but they refused.

When traveling to Al Waha, it is preferable to travel with at least two cars in case any technical or mechanical failure takes place because there are no services or telecommunication on the road.



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