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Plan to check meteorite smuggling


Muscat, Feb 18 - A law is in the offing in the Sultanate to prevent the export of meteorites and any kind of stones without approval from the competent authorities, said Dr Mohammed al Kindi, CEO, Geo Consultancy Centre. According to him, the law is expected to protect the country’s mineral resources by making it mandatory to obtain approval from the Public Authority for Mining (PAM) and Ministry of Heritage and Culture. Dr Al Kindi said the meteorite hunters visit the Sultanate in the guise of tourists, but in reality they have other plans.

The Royal Oman Police (ROP), in cooperation with the authorities, have arrested many foreign visitors while trying to smuggle out meteorites. Meteorites found in the Sultanate were also offered for sale on some online shopping sites. Dr Al Kindi said: “Meteorites offered for sale on social networking sites are small parts of real samples found in the Sultanate and then taken abroad for study by international researchers. These small pieces were offered for sale.” The smuggling of any kind of national wealth is treated very seriously by the government. Violators are subject to legal action.

The conservation of geological heritage, including meteorites, is one of the responsibilities of PAM. It has a special section on meteorites in the Department of Geological Heritage to follow up on all meteorites and give them due attention because of their scientific/economic importance. Exploration, export and acquisition of meteorites is one of its specialities. The authority cooperates with the ROP and other authorities in following up on unlicensed searches and trade in meteorites.

Zainab al Nassri

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