Fittingly, having gained her degree in Marine and Fisheries Sciences at Sultan Qaboos University, a young Omani woman is now establishing a significant national and international profile in the challenging marine conservation sector. Aida Al Jabri is the Acting Head of the Marine Environment Section, in the Ministry of Environment and Climate Affairs, as a technical environment expert in marine conservation, and will present a paper at the prestigious Royal Geographic Society in London, UK during October.
Having a particular passion for Oman’s whales and dolphins, Al Jabri plays a key role in the establishment of marine tourism protocols to ensure that whale and dolphin watching activities are not excessively intrusive or harmful. Her passion for these two species stems from her recognition of their “high intelligence, and behavior, especially in regards to human interactions.”
One of her key responsibilities is community education, and prominent in the establishment of a marine mammal and turtle stranding network for the Omani government, she also conducts “educational programs, and focuses on creating a national awareness among local fishermen, schools, and community special interest groups”, to protect these magnificent creatures.
Of course, the marine environment is a holistic entity, and Al Jabri is committed too, to the “global concept of protection of the biodiversity of the marine world, whether mangroves, coral reefs, or planning for the consequences of oil spills, and other contaminations, to the other end of the spectrum in seeking to drive nation-wide respect for the sandhills and beaches of the Sultanate’s coastlines.”
“All sea creatures are special to me,” said Al Jabri recently, “as they are all related in some way, and all need each other”. And when prompted as to how the general public can help, she is adamant that it is in the little things like, “keeping beaches clean,” that make a difference. The best thing about her job is, “To protect something that is so special, yet not really understood by so many people.”
Her ten years of experience in the field ensure that she is “highly organized, and with excellent communication skills,” according to her colleagues, and her knowledge and understanding of the marine environment is obvious. If this young woman has one regret, it is that as a non-swimmer she cannot share the total marine experience of some of her colleagues, however, she has embarked on a learn-to-swim program, to become a fully engaged ‘marine girl’.
Dr Nigel Winser, of the Royal Geographic Society announced to the international media recently that, “This year’s Oman Field Science Lecture will be on the Oman marine environment, focusing on new research findings, conservation progress, and how tourism can safeguard and benefit Oman’s rich marine heritage, for which Suaad Al Harthi and Aida Al Jabri are our principal speakers. Both come highly recommended, are dedicated to their work, and will offer a unique perspective on a topic of global scientific interest.”
The final word on Marine conservation today, of course, is from Al Jabri, who writes, “The conservation of the marine environment is not limited to myself or the Ministry of the Environment, but all people must work to preserve it, and its wealth, to sustain future generations and to preserve the ecological balance. Marine environment is a treasure God has given us, and this blessing must be preserved.”