Wetlands to Wonderlands

Plans are afoot to make Al Ansab Wetlands in the Wilayat of Bausher into a major tourist attraction in the Sultanate. “Discussions have already been done with Oman Tourism Development Company (Omran) for collaboration in this regard,” said Hussain bin Hassan AbdulHussain, CEO of Haya Water.
Al Ansab Wetland is situated in the heart of Muscat. It provides a showcase for Oman’s impressive nature with its abundance of bird life.
“Wetlands in Sur and Masirah are also being considered to be developed to attract visitors,” he said.
According to AbdulHussain, the area needs more infrastructures so that both local visitors and tourists could be attracted to the area, he said.
Omran is a government-owned company mandated to drive the investment, growth and development of the tourism sector in the Sultanate of Oman.
“Many people in Muscat do not know about the wetlands except that a sewage treatment plant by Haya exists there. It’s like a different world altogether,” AbdulHussain said.
Al Ansab Wetlands are not only a private sanctuary for birds, but also represent a safe environment for Omani plants, butterflies and other species of wildlife.
The wetlands stretch over 40 hectares in area or about 18 square kilometres, while for trees located in the area are a natural variety of local trees, along with a special nursery for Omani trees. There are local trees from the Governorate of Dhofar and Al Jabal Al Akhdhar, as well as other governorates of the Sultanate.
More than 290 species of birds are currently registered in the ponds, most of which come in the winter, and most of them are immigrants from Europe, Africa and Asia, as well as Iraq, Iran, besides the local birds.
“The wetland is not just a special place for birds; it is also a safe haven for Oman’s plants, butterflies and other species,” AbdulHussain said.
It is now home to Little Grebe, Black-necked Grebe, Greater Cormorant, Indian Pond Heron, Little Egret, Grey Heron, Glossy Ibis and Greater Flamingo.
Al Ansab Wetlands are increasingly becoming a popular destination especially for nature lovers and people who have interest in wildlife, researchers, students and the amateur photographers.
For Haya, there are five large ponds that were dug to collect the filtered water, as between 3,000 to 5,000 cubic metres of filtered water are pumped out daily. The main pond is 3.5 metres deep.
Haya Water has a sewage treatment plant at Al Ansab. The company plans to increase the capacity to 125,000 cubic metres per day by the end of 2017.
Ponds are used for breeding and propagation of fish. The goal of breeding these fish is to eliminate mosquito larvae, as these fish feed on the larvae. This method is used in order to avoid the use of chemical pesticides that affect birds and plants.

SAMUEL KUTTY