HALBAN Fourteen female students from the German University of Technology (GUtech) conducted a 10-day fieldtrip to explore and study the geology of Oman. They were guided by Prof Dr. Gösta Hoffmann from Bonn University in Germany. Prof. Dr. Gösta is a geosciences expert in the field; he has run several international projects and has been granted the national research award for his work by The Research Council (TRC). The fieldtrip logistics were professionally organised by Golden Highlands, the leading geo-tourism company in Oman.
For the students the trip was a once in a lifetime experience. Most of them have never camped outside before. Another breath-taking experience was the mountain scenery the students saw when travelling in 4-wheel cars along small gravel roads through the mountains. “Driving through Wadi Bani Awf was amazing, extraordinary and exciting for me,“ said Alaa al Mahdouri, 7th semester Geoscience student. One of the better known spectacular places that the group visited was Wadi al Abbyad. Prof Gösta explained: “Wadi al Abbyad is special for a variety of reasons: it is a perennial river, meaning it flows all year. Because of this there are very special animals and plants. Furthermore, it is an extraordinary place in terms of geology. It is probably the best place in the world to actually see the interior of the planet earth. In other countries such a place would already be recognised as a National Park. As far as I know such initiatives are under way but at the moment the place has a severe issue with rubbish. People come here for picnic and leave everything behind. Luckily the younger generation is aware of the problem and the group of 14 female GUtech students started a wadi clean-up.” Aziza al Jahwari lined out: “I felt so bad to see all this rubbish in such a wonderful place. I felt much better when we started to collect the rubbish.” Shatha al Gahfri asked “Until we do not care about our planet and until when will people think this is a normal behaviour? If everyone takes his own rubbish and takes a little bit more, we will solve this issue.”
As part of the field-trip, the group of students collected 237 kg of rubbish. Most of the items collected were clearly related to picnic activities, a problem that can be easily solved. „It is the second clean-up organised by Golden Highlands, after a beach clean-up last year with the professors from the German Geological Association (DGGV).” said Prof. Dr. Gosta. “It is our company’s responsibility to keep these places and our country clean. We therefore are an eco-friendly tour company in Oman. We try to minimise the amount of rubbish during the trips as much as possible. We do not distribute soft drinks in cans and water in plastic bottles. We provide solutions for refill and the customers use one mug through the trip. This mug they even take home as a souvenir. We also avoid plastic bags when shopping for groceries but use our own re-useable Golden Highland bags. Funny enough, people want to buy our bags as well instead of using plastic bags. We might even think of a business opportunity here,” said Mansoor al Shabibi, CEO of Golden Highlands.
“The clean-up was very successful and I am very happy that this initiative was organised by the students themselves”, concluded Prof Gösta. The logistics for the wadi clean-up was supported by Golden Highlands. Mansoor al Shabibi: “As the leading geo-tourism company in the country, operating for more than 10 years now, we know that the deserts, mountains, wadis and beaches are the unique resources that our business is based on. People come from all over the world to see and study these places. If we spoil them, we lose our unique selling point. Besides that, we harm our own country.”
Mubarak al Harrasi, group supervisor of Golden Highlands said: “I am happy to be in company with the students, these are open-minded ladies, I feel like their brother. We usually cater for international guests, but it is a very rewarding job to show our local people the beauties of the country. On these trips we usually travel to very remote areas that most people have not believed to exist in Oman.”