Monday column: Why are we littering the beaches?

Opinion Sunday 14/January/2024 17:50 PM
By: Times News Service
Monday column: Why are we littering the beaches?

The beaches in Muscat are fast becoming dumping yards where thousands of waste is being thrown on the sands on a daily basis.

The weather now is cool with temperatures between 19 to 23 degrees and the beaches are an ideal place to camp overnight or just a family gathering on the sands after sunset. But after an evening of fun on a cool environment, beach campers leave their barbecue remains, bottles, plastic bags, food and tissue papers behind them.

The surprising thing is that they don’t even have to take their waste with them at home. The Muscat Municipality have waste bins everywhere around the beaches for them to drop their rubbish in. All they have to do is collect them and walk to the nearest bin and dispose them.

But I guess that is too much for almost all of them.  They put enjoyment first before hygiene. But who are the losers of littering? Certainly it is the environment we live in. Also, tourism. Over the years, the government has been spending billions of rials to improve the leisure and hospitality infrastructure to bring in tourists to enjoy our beautiful country.

The beaches are vital part of it since over 70 percent of our hotels and resorts are near the sea. Especially, when we consider that Oman has the longest coastline in the Arabian Peninsula that stretches from Musandam in the north all the way to Dhofar in the south.

Statistics also tell us that over 80 percent of both domestic and international tourists visit the beaches or stay at hotels near the beaches. Littering beaches is certainly against the Oman Vision 2040. The Sultanate is targeting about 16 million tourists by 2040. Currently, the country is attracting around 3 million tourists a year.

Again, it is not just about leaving the beaches clean but it is about boosting our economy. It is also about employment where the hospitality and leisure industry is employing thousands of graduates a year. Not to mention, the business attraction and the tax income tourists pay to the government. They will all stop coming if one of Oman’s top attraction is full of rubbish.    

Having said all that, do the dumpers of rubbish really care? Certainly not, otherwise they would clean up when they leave. Second question is: who is to blame? Of course, it is the litterers but I am not talking on these lines. We can go further back perhaps to schools and as far as all the way back when these litterers were growing up.

Teachers are certainly to blame from kindergarten all the way to secondary schools. Cleanliness of the environment must be part of the basic education curriculum. The Ministry of Education must insist that this subject is embedded deep in the classes of students of all ages.

Parenting is to blame, too.

If we don’t tell our children to pick up things on the floor in our own homes, they grow up becoming litterers of the environment. It all starts there and spills out to the open areas on the streets.