Environment

A blacktip shark is caught in a fishing trap installed 24 hours earlier in Oman's Kumzar - © 2016 Sebastian Castelier

The Gulf region faces a multitude of severe environmental problems, ranging from desertification to biodiversity loss, air and marine pollution and water scarcity. While five Gulf countries rank among the world's top ten country's per-capita carbon emissions, climate change could push temperatures in some areas of the Arabian Peninsula beyond a threshold of human adaptability by 2070.
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Overexploitation of resources

 

At the northern tip of Oman's Musandam, which faces the Strait of Hormuz, shark fishing is an established tradition. Omani fisherman catch the sought-after fish whose fins end up on Asia's tables, where shark fin soup is a delicacy. According to a Dubai-based biologist - during the past 15 years, the metropolis became a regional crossroads in the trade of sharks - about 45 percent of species sold are considered to be at high risk of global extinction. Oman is the world's 17th-highest exporter of shark fins, but several local sources spoke about facing violence and intimidation from the local authorities after attempted enquiries about the scale of the trade. Read more...

 

Illegal trades

Amused by illegally owning exotic animals, wealthy Kuwaitis encourage a destructive trade; in the wild, less than 7,100 cheetahs remain. "A lot of people here like challenges, and they do not want a classic pet, but an extraordinary animal that resists them [...] This it is also about looking different from ordinary people. ‘If I can deal with such an animal, it means that I’m superior'," Kuwaiti psychologist Adnan al-Shatti said. According to studies led by the Illegal Wildlife Trade Cheetah Conservation, about 300 young cheetahs are sent illegally every year from Ethiopia, Somalia and the north of Kenya, to pass via Yemen before heading towards the wider Gulf. Read more...

Upcoming report about Kuwaiti falconers Read more...

 

Wildlife conservation

Since 2007, Oman has chosen to conduct oil explorations at the Al Wusta wildlife reserve, thus affecting its last wild populations of the iconic Arabian Oryx. In an unprecedented move, the UNESCO removed the reserve from its World Heritage List and wildlife habitat has been shrinking ever since. Moreover, Arabian Oryx have been hunted since ancient times for their meat, skin and the supposed medicinal properties of their blood. So far, the number of wild oryx in Oman remains close to zero as conservation efforts are in deadlock. Read more...

 

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Notable books to read

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Author: Shabbir A. Shahid
Publication: 2014

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 -   © 2019 Sebastian Castelier

Sunset over the Al Wusta's Wildlife Reserve, Oman - © 2016 Sebastian Castelier