The Sultanate of Oman stands firm for the cause of the environment. It is known for adopting the best practices to conserve the environment. Since the world leaders have shown concern over climate change at the recently concluded global forum COP26 (October 31 - November 12, 2021), the Sultanate of Oman’s commitment to the cause of the environment is firm.
Way ahead of the COP26 (Conference of the Parties) that took place in the UK’s Scottish city Glasgow, the Sultanate of Oman endorsed the ratification of the Paris Agreement on April 24, 2019 and called it a conclusive step forward in the Sultanate of Oman’s commitment to join the international efforts to combat climate change.
The Sultanate of Oman cited its reason for endorsing the Paris Agreement. In its statement, the Directorate General of Meteorology at the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) said, “The Sultanate of Oman is one of the most vulnerable countries in West Asia to the adverse impacts of climate change and has a heightened degree of awareness and concern about global warming and its adverse impacts.” The country has set environmental standards for others to emulate and proactively promoted the cause of the environment to ensure that the planet earth remains a better place to live for the coming generations.
To raise the environment safety bar, the Sultanate of Oman started the Unesco-Sultan Qaboos Prize for Environmental Protection in 1991. It was the first such effort in the Arab world on an international level. The first recipient of the award was an environmental institute in the State of Filakroze in Mexico in 1991 itself. There is a fully-fledged establishment, Environment Authority, to address all the environmental issues.
Besides government authorities, non-government agencies extend voluntary support to the government in preserving the environment. The Environment Society of Oman (ESO) was established in the year 2004 by a group of like-minded environment lovers. Since its inception, the ESO has taken up many environmental issues and raised awareness to conserve the environment.
Even as the current pandemic has hit all sorts of activities, the ESO has been working to save the environment by releasing educational booklets and videos asking people to give maximum care for the environment. The Sultanate of Oman’s care for the environment has drawn attention from many national and international agencies, and there has been continued cooperation between the Sultanate and the United Nations in projects related to climate change, the protection of the ozone layer as also to improve efficiency and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Some of the Sultanate’s environment projects to conserve rare Omani species like turtles, leopards, Arabian Ibex, Arabian Gazelle, Sooty Falcon, and Houbara Bustard survey project have evoked good responses from environmentalists. These projects are so unique that some of them have attracted the attention of a large number of tourists.
MOST FAMOUS TREE
Among the Sultanate’s governorates, Dhofar has the distinction of being the richest in flora and fauna. One of the most important and widely known species is Luban or Mughereh (Boswellia sacra) that grows naturally in the arid areas of the Dhofar mountains. This tree has the distinction of becoming the most famous tree in ages.
In old times ‘Luban’ was considered an expensive commodity. Today, the tree’s gum known as frankincense is very popular for cosmetic, medicinal, and incense purposes. Dhofari Luban is great in demand from all kinds of tourists coming to Salalah. Recently it has gained commercial recognition and is being exported to many Arab, Asian, and European countries.
There is a very thin line between the environment and heritage. Every place has a unique environment that converts into heritage over time. The Sultanate of Oman thus is proud to have five Unesco declared World Heritage Sites. They hold unique importance to the conservation of both – environment and heritage of the Sultanate of Oman. Among the sites are Aflaj irrigation systems, Land of Frankincense; Bahla Fort; Archaeological sites of Bat; and the Ancient City of Qalhat. It is very easy to demolish the old and build new in the name of development.
The Omani authorities, however, have been cautious in preserving the country’s past and setting examples for others to emulate. Besides being home to many flora and fauna, the country attracts birdwatchers from around the world. It has a unique reserve to conserve some rare species of turtles in Ras Al Jinz. Its pristine beaches are rare symbols of conservation of the environment. Protection of mangroves and backwaters showcase the country’s commitment to the environment.