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New guide lists geo-heritage sites in Muscat.

By Dr. Hussein Shehadeh By launching a geo-heritage guide digital application, the Ministry of Tourism has expanded its initiative of creating awareness of the Sultanate's natural wealth among people of other countries. In all, 30 geo-heritage sites have been dwelt upon in the 'Muscat Geo-Heritage Auto Guide' which was introduced last week by Mrs. Maitha Bint Saif Al Mahrouqiyah, Undersecretary at the Ministry of Tourism.

Geological studies reveal a nation's past: scientific examination of rocks and fossils teaches us the history of our environment, its development over thousands of years and many other interesting facts about the nature and terrain of mountains, wadis, rivers and flora and fauna.

While it is the national duty of the government of Oman, to protect and preserve such areas, it is also its responsibility to make visitors aware of their location and importance. The new guide lists geo-heritage sites in Muscat like Al Khoud, Bandar Al Khairan, Wadi Al Meeh and Bausher as the project marks celebrations of Muscat as the Arab Tourism Capital 2012.

As the minister pointed out on the occasion of the launch of the guide, it is a vital project which highlights the environmental identity of the Sultanate and its natural and geological wealth. The guide provides environmental and geological information which is of use to tourists ' information that can be easily and quickly accessed through technological gadgets like smart phones.

One of the advantages of the digital application is the four-language option ' Arabic, English, German and French which would suit people across a global platform. As the Sultanate is a top tourist destination, a large number of visitors from many parts of the world are drawn to its historical and cultural attractions each year, and after Muscat's crowning as the Arab Tourism Capital 2012 an even greater number of tourists are expected this year. Besides, Oman's geological sites attract researchers from around the world.

The new application is a welcome addition to the various initiatives of the Ministry of Tourism to boost tourist inflow and contribute towards the overall health of the country's economy. As eco and heritage tourism gain popularity, the new smart phone application will provide ready information for people who intend to make their way to the Sultanate for this purpose.

Over the past four decades Oman has made tremendous strides in developing its country-wide tourist infrastructure, including facilities for eco-tourism like the famous Ras Al Jinz turtle reserve in Al Sharqiyah region where it is estimated that around 30,000 green turtles arrive each year to lay their eggs. These turtles, a highly endangered species, swim thousands of miles to reach this fishing village 200km from Muscat in an annual ritual that attracts a huge influx of visitors who are left amazed by nature's wonder.

The Ras Al Jinz reserve reflects the ministry's sustainable tourism development strategies and programmes, it shows government's care for the economic benefit of local communities in high-density tourist areas. While preservation of existing flora and fauna and protection of historical, cultural and geological sites is a priority with government, sustaining the economic livelihood of people who inhabit such regions is also an equal priority.

-Alarabonline- .

IA

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Publication:Al-Arab (London, United Kingdom)
Geographic Code:7OMAN
Date:Mar 30, 2013
Words:540
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