BA (Hons) Architecture student Faris Ihsan has created an ‘Arish Hut’ on the AUB Campus.

The Arish is used as houses for the Bedouins (people of the desert) in Oman at the Wahiba Sands, in the Sharqiya Region. The Arish is made from the harvest of palm leafs.

Faris said:

”They first weave a wall together, then they weave the walls to four palm tree trunks that are the foundations of the structure, the tree trunks are fixed to a flat sandy platform and this is done to hold the structure firmly together. For extra support to the walls a cross-shaped rigid branches are used to weave the central part of the wall to the rest of the structural foundation. Then they weave the roof to the structure, and the doors are usually left open, covered with a knitted curtain or a wired door is used for closure.

This makes the traditional Arish settlements across the wahiba sands and other costal and interior parts of Oman. The spaces that are created are planned out by drawing a 1:1 layout on the ground that is used as a plan for the construction. In addition this helps the Bedouins understand the wind direction that moves the dunes. This is an essential part in the construction that affects the direction of sand storms towards their houses and sun settings. The weaving is the main method of constructing and the most important part of constructing.

I have re-constructed the Arish at AUB to understand more about the construction and technique. In addition, I have made a documentary short film about the lives of the Bedouins that was filmed by me in collaboration with BA (Hons) Film Production.

The title is ”Constructing the Arish city, a Utopian Desert.”

Today in the desert, the Arish is becoming an un-sustainable way for housing to be constructed. Whilst it is supposed to be a carbon free technique of construction, due to transportation today in the desert, is dependent on cars and before it was only on camels. Arish homes are being replaced by concrete houses with electricity lines and water tanks being connected.

Therefore globalisation is taking over into the desert –  how can we fix this issue to create a sustainable city in the desert?”