Spotlight: Khabat al Qedan getting spoilt by litter

Muscat: Oman has always been known for its natural beauty and pristine beaches. It appears to the eyes of the world as the jewel of Gulf blessed with geographical and natural beauty. To preserve this status, efforts have to be taken not just to protect the environment, but also to save other organisms living in it.

Recently, pictures and videos of some picnic spots full of trash went viral on social media. Despite all awareness calls and warnings, some people, unfortunately, don’t respect the environment and carelessly litter around.

This issue has been a hot topic not just for environmentalists, but also to the public who care about their country
and love to see it clean as it used to be. Popular tourist places like gardens and beaches continue to see negligence
by many visitors thus making them an unpleasant sight.

Turning from beautiful tourist landmarks to landfills, Sands in Khabat al Qedan, South Batinah , ring the alarm bells as one of the places that need urgent help. Hundreds of plastic bags, food wrappers, soft drinks and water bottles, tissues and even diapers are spread all over the dunes.

The place is a favourite destination for families and friends to have a good time at the high sand dunes especially in winter.

In a very tragic way, the golden pure sands are sabotaged with trash filling the place. One can tell easily grilling spots from burnt wood chips, as well as dining places from food and leftovers on the ground.

Muneer Bashir, a visitor who came with friends to spend the evening, said, “it is a gorgeous place. Very good for meditation and self-relaxation. However, it is very sad to see all this rubbish around. If it keeps on going that way, the beauty of the place would be destroyed.”

The place, which was recently discovered coincided with the opening of Muscat Expressway, which attracts tourists
from all over the Sultanate. It is a perfect destination for camping especially during these winter days.

“This place was untouched for years and was magnificent, but now, it is turning into a landfill where you can see all
trash swept by the wind here and there,” Musatsam al Kindi, a visitor, said.

Khabat is also a pasture for camels who are seen around very often. They tour the place and are seen to have
eaten plastic bags and leftovers which endangers their lives.

Al Kindi added, “some, at least, do collect their garbage in bags, but others just dump everything and leave.”
Ahmed al Ghanbousi, a volunteer said, “We usually come to these places after holidays to clean and bring things back to normal because we know we will keep seeing this scene. Unfortunately, a lot of people ignore warnings and don’t care about nature. They would have a good time, then leave the place with all the trash and rubbish around.”

He said, “We can’t rely completely on cleaning workers. This is our country and it is our responsibility, of all of us, to conserve its beauty.”

Muscat Municipality had earlier announced that anyone who disposes of waste in non-designated places will be fined RO 100, and the offender will be given one-day time to clear up the waste, and in case of repetition of the act, fine will be doubled. An administrative decision (No 55/2017) of the Municipality also defines the penalties for some of the violations, said the civic authority. It has also taken steps to increase the number of garbage containers in tourist places.