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Investing in nature

As part of environmental conservation and to attract visitors, nature reserves in the Sultanate of Oman are being developed as tourist destinations.

In this regard, the Environment Authority has announced investment opportunities in eco-tourism projects including Khor Al Qurum Al Kabeer Reserve in Dhofar Governorate.

“Interested companies must submit a report on how it proposes to develop the reserve and an action plan for its management”, the Authority said in a statement.

It adds that the investor must adhere to the principles of sustainable tourism development, preserve natural and cultural heritage, and refrain from engaging in any activity that adversely affects the environmental and cultural values of the site.

During the last few decades, the Sultanate of Oman has made significant strides in environmental conservation, declaring many of these sites protected nature reserves. Species that were once extinct in the wild have been brought back through breeding and conservation programmes, and sustainable tourism efforts are ongoing.

In December last, the Authority unveiled plans of unique investment opportunities for companies, specialised institutions and others wishing to invest and manage some eco-tourism projects like the Khor Ad Dahariz Reserve, the Khor Al Qurum Al Kabeer Reserve, and Khor Sawli Reserve in the Dhofar Governorate.

Cited as spectacular reserves for ‘worth a visit’ by different trip advisors including Lonely Planet, khors of the Salalah Coast are also known as the Dhofar lagoons, they are prime nesting sites for indigenous and migrating birds, thanks to their rich biodiversity and a major attraction for tourists.

With valleys and plains turned verdant by the annual khareef (monsoon), the Dhofar Governorate attracts scores of visitors in search of a change of scenery from sandy deserts and parched wadis.

“An easy road trip from Salalah, a group of lagoons lies along the coastline, providing a hospitable ecosystem for hundreds of birds, fish and plants”, the Lonely Planet said in its recent report recommending khors of the Salalah as “best” to tourists.

A celebrated local beauty spot, this khor is often partitioned from the sea by a sandbar that shrinks and grows according to the season. In the summer, water chasing through Wadi Darbat sometimes breaches the bar, dissolving the lagoon back into the sea.

After a heavy storm surge, it can take months for the beach to rebuild. As tempting as it looks, swimming here is very dangerous as the waves are powerful and there is a strong undertow.

The Khor Awqad sanctuary is one of the sites where birds like heron frequently come and nest.

Among other creeks are Khor Al Qurum Al Sagheer and Al Kabeer located on the road which leads from Salalah to Raysut. These two creeks are known for the unique diversity of plants. There are 13 species of plants and nine types of fish. The Crimean trees are also there in large numbers.

The Kot Hamran fort is an archaeological landmark of the wilayat. It is situated about 14 km away from the Salalah city on the road leading to Wilayat Taqah.

In accordance with United Nations Sustainable Goal 15, Oman is making all-out efforts to protect natural and productive habitats in addition to renewable resources for a rational and sustainable use, and preserve fauna and flora biodiversity, particularly rare and specifically important species.

“It seeks to improve knowledge on ecological systems, and raise awareness on the importance to preserve biodiversity and sustainably use biological resources”, states the first voluntary report in this regard.

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