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Environmental Issues in Oman

Drought and limited rainfall contribute to shortages in the nation's water supply, so maintaining an adequate supply of water for agricultural and domestic use is one of Oman's most pressing environmental problems, with limited renewable water resources; 94% of available water is used in farming and 2% for industrial activity, with the majority sourced from fossil water in the desert areas and spring water in hills and mountains. Drinking water is available throughout the country, either piped or delivered.

The soil in coastal plains, such as Salalah, have shown increased levels of salinity, due to over exploitation of ground water and encroachment by seawater in the water table. Pollution of beaches and other coastal areas by oil tanker traffic through the Strait of Hormuz and Gulf of Oman is also a persistent risk.

Oman is one of the world’s environmentally committed countries. In 1984, it became the first Arab state to create a ministry dedicated to environmental issues; environmental protection laws have been in place since 1974. In 1990, a new hybrid of rose was named in the Sultan’s honour, in recognition of his commitment to the environment and his support for human rights.

Various organisations have been formed to protect the environment, as well as to educate the people on the importance of environmental issues and the protection of human health. 2001 and 2002 were declared Years of the Environment. The 2003 Law on Nature Reserves and Wild Life Conservation reinforced Oman’s policies on biodiversity and environmental management.

Oman aims to protect endangered wildlife species by establishing nature reserves, while working together with local communities to ensure their success. The turtle breeding beaches at Ras Al Hadd and Ras Al Jinz are protected sites, as are the Daymaniyat islands, which are a bird sanctuary to which entry is restricted during the breeding season. Wadi Al Sarin, one of Oman’s oldest reserves, is home to the Arabian tahr, while Jebel Samhan in Dhofar is a refuge for the Arabian leopard. Saleel Park is a new nature reserve inhabited by gazelles and rare trees. Hunting and killing of any wildlife is strictly prohibited and carries stiff penalties.





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