Progress and preservation in Oman.

Author:Shehadeh, Hussein
Position::Environmental policy

Environmental protection has become a focus of international attention over the past decade. The dangers of modern living are measured in the air we breathe, the water we drink and the soil in which foodstuff is grown, to name only the tip of the iceberg. All nations are becoming aware of the need to take action to protect themselves and their environment. Oman is a regional trendsetter in the field says the country's Minister of the Environment, Sheikh Amer bin Shuwain al Hosni.

"Oman strongly believes in the importance of preventing pollution and conserving the environment. It was among the first Arab countries to give priority to the protection of the environment, natural resources, and its citizens of today and of the future. Environmental pollution is one of the most serious problems of our times. It occurs particularly during the transition from simple life styles to the complexities of the modern age," explained the minister.

He continued: "From the time of its inception in 1970, the government of Sultan Qaboos has been keenly aware of the need to protect the environment in all its aspects. The government has had one particular advantage in this respect in that it has not been faced with the problem of rectifying the ravages of earlier industrialisation. It has been possible to monitor closely the progressive development of industrial plants throughout the Sultanate and control any possible pollution of the environment."

Oman has dealt with the dangers of pollution by offering two important tactics. On the one hand pragmatic, common sense. Inevitably change occurs in any country as the economy shifts from the simpler agricultural model to the more complex, urban development programmes.

Common sense understands where the line between growth and environmental damage must be drawn. Secondly, when that line is crossed, or about to be crossed, measures must be taken in the form of edicts or other legislation to hold in check actions which are either blatantly dangerous or simply over-zealously careless.

"The first law concerning environmental affairs was issued in 1974. This was followed in ensuing years by several other decisions and laws designed to secure the territorial waters of the country. In 1979, the Council for Conservation of the Environment and Prevention of Pollution was established with the Sultan as its Chairman. In 1982, all the ordinances covering the environment and prevention of pollution were codified in one law. In...

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