There was a time that I really like photography. I still do now but not with the same zest that I used to have. I just rediscovered it over the weekend thanks to the help of a great camera and a well-performing lens. But that’s not what I came to talk about.
Over the weekend, I had the best of time exploring Ras al Hadd and Ras al Jinz. It’s my first time to be there. We stayed in this barasti — quite a comfortable hut made of date fronds and thankfully was equipped with electricity and a working, clean bathroom.
To see the turtles of Ras al Jinz, you would have to wake up very early. Most of the turtle activities like laying eggs and the turtle hatching happen in the evening or the very early morning. At four am, we were at the lobby of this only giant building there and we were led towards the beach a few minutes later. The whole anecdote of what the trip was like will be on a special feature coming out this week and for all its silent beauty and mesmerizing sunrise, I have nothing but all praises for this gem of the Sultanate.
But the beaches of Ras al Hadd is a different story. In this part of the country, life is slow. Men and kids hang out by the beach sitting on the sand on top of carpets and mattresses, many had been worn out because of continued use.
It is a place for family picnic where the locals have taken an initiative to make the place a little bit exciting by bringing along jetskis that they rent to guests and visitors who found themselves there.
In a distance, it was a good beach. A freediving enthusiast friend said that there was too much to see underwater but one has to watch out, especially at this time of the year, for jellyfish because they sting really bad.
A closer look at the sand however reveals a sad truth. Despite its calm, laidback charm, the beaches of Ras al Hadd is a dump site and it’s not a criticism for the sake of criticism, we have a big garbage bag full of plastics as a receipt to prove it.
This is usually the case for many beaches not only in the country but all over the world. Just because we can’t see them, these plastic wastes, don’t mean they are not there.
While in the rest of the world, they float and victimise sea creatures, here in the Sultanate, it hasn’t gotten out of proportion yet. But with little initiative being put into sustainable tourism and with many people thinking throwing their garbage to the bin is the responsibility of those paid to do it, we might as well expect the worst to happen soon.
“I get so mad to see these plastic wastes. They don’t belong in the ocean,” a friend gushed while busy picking plastic bottles after plastic bottles of discarded waste.
He can’t believe the extent of the problem until he saw for himself that we’ve only been picking trash for 10 minutes and we already filled a big garbage bag to the brim.
The most alarming thing about the situation in Ras al Hadd is that it is very close to the turtle reserve. In fact, the beaches surrounding Ras al Hadd were identified to be nesting grounds for these gentle sea creatures. The plastics found in the area pose great risks and it’s the kind of risk we all can’t afford to escalate.
So why is it important to talk about this?
In the country today, there is a need for better awareness about personal responsibility towards the environment. People should realise that taking care of nature is not just the responsibility of the government or the few who were tasked to watch after them.
Our surroundings, our responsibility. Our trash, our responsibility. With Oman capitalising on tourism, a lot is at stake in keeping the surroundings pristine and garbage free. And everyone, whether it’s a resident or an expat, all contribute to the overall image of the Sultanate.
It has been said so many times that to change the world, we only have to change ourselves. Let’s do the little we can by disposing our trashes responsibly. And then a little further down the road, maybe a trash talk (and this is literally) is necessary so we can get our neighbours to work with us.