"Water diviners are a sort of water whisperers," Alqasmi explains.
"They can hear water running in the ground. They can locate water sources or reservoirs in the ground just by spotting certain deep-rooted desert trees."
Storyline and underlying themes
The novel follows Salem, a water diviner whose parents both died in water-related incidents. His mother died by drowning, while his father was buried under the rubble of one of the aflaj.
"However, I kept Salem's fate hanging when he was swept away by the flood at the end of the novel and left it to the reader's imagination."
Alqasmi believes the aflaj his novel evokes are more than mere water irrigation systems, for they serve a social purpose as well.
"The aflaj have shaped the relations between villagers for centuries, serving as an integrated system of water sharing among them. In that sense, the aflaj are a complex social system," he explains.
"I did extensive research for this novel and found many writings about the aflaj and their social dimension in villages and cities."
He adds: "In some Omani cities, like Nazwa, several aflaj were added to the UNESCO World Heritage List. Some aflaj cover very small distances, while others run 20 kilometres deep in the ground."
"The aflaj have been linked to legends and myths, but there are myths, nor legends. There is simply a social life that has been deeply connected to the availability of water, mountains, and valleys. Even in some buildings in these villages, we can find this anecdotal cultural connection."
Ancient civilisations were built around water springs, so this cultural association dates back to the far past.
"Palaeontologists have found that life began from water. But water can also be an instrument of death, as evident in the cyclones that repeatedly hit Oman, causing geographical shifts and destroying houses and streets," Alqasmi explains.
Specificity of theme
Many believe "The Water Diviner" employs a simple structural language, which Alqasmi says is common in novels.
"The trick is how to use this simple structure efficiently but with caution."
The novelist says the specificity of his theme is what makes the novel interesting: "I stepped away from political and historical perspectives and into the perspective of the ordinary man."
"When we look at world literature – take Latin American literature, for instance – we find that the novels that earn global success are stories of marginalised people and ordinary matters, written with a creative flair," he explains.
"I believe the novel genre will make this shift in the coming years."