The leader who took care of environment

His Majesty Sultan Qaboos took care of environment amid the march of Renaissance. He ensured that development was sustainable and without harm to the environment. The environmental policies also ensured the welfare of future generations of the Sultanate.
“As human-beings co-existing on this planet we have gravely neglected the vital necessity of conserving the environment and natural resources due to the lack of collective coordination. Indeed, we have taken a potentially opposing course of luxury and industrial progress, regardless of the resulting imbalance between development and the environment, and without taking into account the dire consequences of the effects upon the atmosphere and the ozone layer, rivers and sea water, the extermination of certain species, the destruction of forests, and the contamination of once fertile soil. Should this continue, humanity will court collective suicide. The conservation of the environment is the responsibility of all of us, a responsibility that knows no political boundaries. Therefore, man, wherever he lives, must order his life accordingly. This must be done in a planned, rational way and taking into consideration the numerous causes of pollution, whether natural, biological, industrial, chemical or physical. ‘‘We, in the Sultanate of Oman, through our deep personal interest and the directives we have given our government to act in concert with neighbouring countries, are making energetic efforts to protect our environment and territorial waters from pollution and other problems,” His Majesty Sultan Qaboos said in a speech at 1992 Earth Summit in Brazil, which highlighted the reconciliation of economic development with protection of the environment
In order to encourage environmental preservation at international level, the Unesco-Sultan Qaboos Prize for Environmental Preservation was launched in 1991. Over the years the award has proven to be a great support for scientists and institutions in finding solutions for challenging ecological systems in addition to spreading awareness while inspiring scientists and researchers to conduct researches and applied studies at the same time promote environment through education and training on sustainable development.
Each national day oration has had guidelines on various aspects but when it came to environment steps were taken to establish nature reserves to protect the natural species of Oman from the Arabian Oryx, to Arabian Leapord to the plants as seen with the botanical garden of Oman.
Oman also had another major challenge — water.
A film by Oman Water Society titled ‘Water in the Leader’s Vision’ quotes His Majesty’s words, “I know that there is shortage of water in parts of our dear country. We ordered that equipment be hired immediately for the digging of wells. And in addition to meeting the urgent needs of citizens for water, the drilling programme will expand to include a full survey of water resources in the country’’. This step was towards an integrated programme for the management if water resources and this speech was delivered through the radio delivered on August 9, 1970.
In record time, wells were excavated, water supply connected and security and stability achieved. On January 23, 1990 a specialized Ministry for Water was established. In his address the Sultan said, “The development of water resources is highly significant, both in farming and in meeting the needs of different areas for water for various purposes. Yet despite all the progress we have made over the past years through the construction of recharge dams, the maintenance and development of traditional water resources and the setting up of desalination plants, we still have to exert more efforts to identify new resources and develop existing ones in accordance with a long-term plan’’. Immediately, policies were put in place and exploration for water resources. The outcome were dams such as Al Khoudh (recharge dams), Wadi Dayqah (storage dam). Today the Sultanate has 44 recharge dams, 103 storage dams, 13 flood protection dams. In total there are 160 dams with total storage capacity of 294.12 million cubic metres.
But His Majesty was quick to remind, “Water is a national wealth that must be cherished and safeguarded. All efforts must continue to be made to develop this resource’’.
But increasing water was not going to be at the cost of environment as he added, “Our government has plans to increase our country water resources to meet our national requirements without arduously affecting the demands of conservation. These conservation demands will continue to indicate the degree of our people ability to abide by these measures’’. While modern irrigation systems were introduced the general consumers were made aware of the rationalizing consumption methods.
It did not stop here. Waste water treatment was introduced on November 18, 1992. Thanks to modern technology, the state has provided a good volume of water to be used in ever expanding landscaping operations. This is done through the treatment of sewage water which used to go waste in the past.
‘‘The leader took the nation on a step by step process on attaining resources and preserving the natural wealth of Oman. And preserving traditions meant the Sultanate’s five Aflaj — the ancient irrigation system based on gravity — were chosen as Unesco World Heritage Sites in 2006.

Oman Observer