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Tranquil oasis at Alba plant.

YOU might not expect to find clean, green vegetables growing in the middle of an industrial plant, but that is exactly the case at the Shaikha Sabeeka Oasis the environmental haven in the midst of the Alba smelting plant.

Covering 90,000sq/m the oasis was rededicated to Shaikha Sabeeka bint Ibrahim Al Khalifa when the wife of His Majesty King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, Chairwoman of the Supreme Council for Women, visited in march.

Set up in 2005 the oasis was built with an aim of reducing pollution both within Alba and the waste streams going out of the company.

But over the years it has developed to create a healthy environment for employees and their families, a haven for birds, both migratory and resident, and a source of fresh vegetables for employees.

Alba environmental specialist Ebrahim Ali said Shaikha Sabeeka Oasis is clear evidence that the company believes in greenery and the concept of a healthy environment for all.

"Located on the south side of the smelter, the oasis comes with a beautiful lake where you can see various marine life, a vegetable and fruit garden as well as the plants and trees section," he said.

"In the lake we have turtles, frogs and different kinds of fish living in addition to various birds.

"All types of migratory birds which come to Bahrain visit Alba. They cannot miss it. We have various types but the one I would like to emphasise is the hoopoe bird (Hud Hud).

"We used to have a lot of them in Bahrain but unfortunately most of them have left due to the usage of chemicals and pesticides.

"Luckily for us, the hoopoe visits our oasis which is free of chemicals and pesticides every summer.

"And other birds come in winter. We have flamingos, little egrets and moorhens. The first time we saw moorhens in Alba was in 2007, while almost all of them left later a couple decided to stay and reproduce here. Now we have 14 of them."

In the flower and plant section you can see palm trees, cactus, Washingtonian palm trees, river red trees, royal poinciana, council trees, button mangroves, weeping bottle brush, Singapore plumeria, sea hibiscus, vinca, ice plants, candle brush, Indian almonds, geraniums, gazania and paper flowers.

And one thing of which Alba is particularly proud is the vegetable garden.

"We plant almost all the vegetables which are available in the market, during harvesting season we distribute them among our staff," said Mr Ali.

"The quality of our vegetables is of higher standard than what is sold in our local market and to prove that, we collected some of our crop and vegetables from the market and took the two samples into the laboratory and analyised them with the same parameters and the result was that our product was better because we don't use any sort of chemicals and pesticides."

Mr Ali said two full-time Alba supervisors are needed to maintain the oasis with 40 contracted employees and a further two contractor supervisors.

And to prove that Alba takes its environmental responsibilities serious, the cost of maintaining the greenery on the smelter site is between BD300,000 and BD500,000 and maintaining the oasis alone costs BD40,000 per year.

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Publication:Gulf Weekly
Date:Aug 9, 2009
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