Monday, October 02, 2006

Wadi: a desert canyon

Wadi rum
Originally uploaded by jadmadi.
A wadi (Arabic وادي wādī) is a dry riverbed that contains water only during times of heavy rain, according to Compare arroyo (creek).

The term "Wadi" is very widely found in Arabic place names. Wadis tend to be associated with centers of human population because of the availability of sub-surface water.

Crossing wide wadis at certain times of the year can be very dangerous, because of unexpected flash floods. Such flash floods cause numerous deaths each year in Saudi Arabia and many other Middle Eastern countries.

The North African equivalent term is oued, although it is also used to refer to true rivers.

Some names of Spanish rivers are derived from Arabic names where "wadi" was used to mean a permanent river, for example Guadalquivir from (al) wādī al kabīr = "the big river".

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