An escalating litter problem has all but destroyed the beauty of Ras Madrakah. Here, in words and photo, Jerzy Wierzbicki reveals the ruination of a piece of paradise.
Stretching as far as the eye could see, you could be forgiven for thinking that the long trail of litter signified a landfill site of some sort.
In fact, the detritus of life is strewn on a beach in a prime tourist stop and what used to be my favourite place to visit.
Instead of breathtaking white sands, anyone coming here is greeted by, among other things, discarded plastic bottles, cans and carrier bags, thoughtlessly left by people who ironically were drawn to come because of its natural beauty – a beauty that they have now so selfishly scarred for others. The destruction of this place is a personal affront to me and makes me so sad.
Ras Madrakah, in the far south of Duqm, is the first place in the Omani Interior that I visited when I first came to this country more than five years ago.
Since then, I’ve returned several times to chronicle with my camera the unique environment and atmosphere I found there.
Ras Madrakah’s appeal extends beyond Oman. During some trips, I have seen cars bringing visitors from the Emirates and Kuwait. Unfortunately, this popularity has had negative consequences. The place was never pristine and on a visit in 2010, I noticed bits of litter between rocks on the white beach. I did not return until March the following year, when I found that the rubbish had significantly increased.
After that, I rarely visited and only fleetingly if I did. Until recently, with the unusual spell of rain and storms, I suggested to my friends that we take advantage of the cooler weather and visit Ras
We arrived on a Thursday morning and went straight to the beach behind the village. The view that greeted us was embarrassing for the country and horrifying for me. I hadn’t expected pristine sand but neither had I expected the enormous swathes of plastic, pieces of Styrofoam, old fishing nets and the telltale debris left by campers – papers, foil cups, broken pieces of toys and even used nappies.
We had to pick up so much rubbish just to clear a small space for us to pitch our tent. Worse was to come. On an early evening stroll, we found a big dead turtle, rotting and upended in the sea, an ignominious end for such a beautiful creature.
In the morning, we grabbed our stuff and left. It was the last time I will ever visit.