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Friday, October 22, 2021

Opinion: ‘Take only photos, leave only footprints’ at Qatar’s beaches

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Golden beach trash

Fed up with the litter he sees strewn across Qatar’s beaches, resident Neil McBride, a British expat who is involved with Qatar Marinewatch and Qatar Turtlewatch, has written this piece to raise awareness about the issue and urge others to change their habits.

In March of this year the “we see you, you are not alone” cleanliness campaign was launched.

The government-backed initiative was designed to prick the consciences of those who feel it is acceptable to spit on public property, or simply dump their litter in public places for others to clean up.

It also aimed to make people who were not aware of the consequences their actions may have to stop and think before they do it.

Nearly six months later, what has changed? If Golden beach in Mesaieed on Wednesday, July 30 is anything to go by, very little indeed.

Stinky swim

That day, my friends and I decided to head to the beach this week for an early morning swim.

It would have to be early morning of course as mid-morning temperatures (and beyond) were simply way too warm for three Europeans whose countries are seemingly still in the grips of the last ice age.

When we arrived at the beach around 7am, the sight that greeted us was horrendous.

Golden beach

The car park was strewn with rubbish left behind by previous beach users, and the beach itself was much worse.

Looking to our left we could see the remnants of barbecues, food tipped onto the sand (rice, tomatoes, meat etc), discarded cans/wrappers/containers and beach furniture that had seen better days.

The smell that overpowered our nostrils as we exited the car was so strong that, had we closed our eyes, our minds would have been only able to generate the image of a landfill site because nothing else could have matched this negative sensory experience.

It looked, and smelled, like the aftermath of a music festival on the scale of Glastonbury or Reading, as if thousands had been through there and each had made their own contribution to this awful scene.

This isn’t just bad news for us or other beach goers in Qatar. This is potentially catastrophic for our environment and the wildlife that inhabits our surroundings.

For example, here a few facts regarding litter and the length of time it takes to decompose:

Recycling-and-decomposing
com

Animals suffer so badly because of this.

A turtle, swimming gracefully in the sea, can easily mistake a plastic bag for a jellyfish (one of its primary food sources). If that doesn’t make you think, how many of you catch fish or crabs and take them home to eat later?

What if that crab or hammour had consumed some of that rubbish? The petro-chemicals from that carelessly discarded biscuit wrapper are now entering your body – just a thought, that’s all.

Golden beach is not unique with regards to this litter issue. Improperly disposed trash continues to be a big problem in Qatar, such that one voluntary beach clean-up recently involved the removal of a ton of rubbish

I can well believe this because, back in May, some 20-30 others and myself participated in a clean-up of Fuwairat beach. In just two short hours, we had filled approximately 30 refuse sacks with a wide variety of items, from general litter to large car tires and industrial fishing equipment.

Clearly, it’s not just the general public who is responsible for this mess.

Government cleanup crews

At this point, I would like to credit the clean-up crews of the Ministry of Municipality and Urban Planning. On both occasions I have witnessed them in action, they have done an excellent job of clearing much of the mess.

Golden beach

It’s just a shame that they are necessary.

How much hassle would it be to simply take a spare plastic bag or bin sack and use it to collect all of the waste generated during a visit to the beach? In the end, that bag can simply be discarded into the bin – and on all the beaches I have visited in Qatar, bins are plentiful.

At Golden beach for example, they are located approximately 20 yards apart and is that too far to walk? Really?

Please, when you travel to the beach: “Take only photographs, leave only footprints.”

Thoughts?

21 COMMENTS

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Huzz
Huzz
7 years ago

This year my wife and I have traveled to the beaches a lot. We were horrified by the amount of rubbish there and as per the posting above the food waste was very bad. We went to the family beach at Al Wakra a number of times but even there the sheltered areas under the parasols were littered with the remains of food / bones and charcoal from bbqs. I think that part of the problem is the diverse range of cultures that make up the population of the country and the habits of home being brought here. I am not blaming any culture in particular but I believe that home country practices are imported here by all people. Education is part of the answer but I think that the gov needs to step up and place full time patrols on the beach to fine people who litter. Anywhere I have gone is loaded with rubbish bins (well done to the gov. here on this) but I just don’t think that they are always used. Sometimes I find a lot of rubbish around the bin but little in the bin suggesting that rubbish is just thrown at the bin.

Enceladus
Enceladus
7 years ago
Reply to  Huzz

Indeed it’s about nationalities, about practices brought here from certain countries and about habits and lifestyle back home reproduced here or anywhere else some people go. Not only but it’s definitely also about that. And to be politically correct not to mention it as we all do doesn’t help. Both enforcement of the law and education equally are the only solution for this matter, behaviour behind the wheel, queuing at the supermarket, etc. It’s all about the same issue.

Saeed Ahmad Khan
Saeed Ahmad Khan
7 years ago

good article…keep it up

BBCA
BBCA
7 years ago

Until Qataris start giving a F#$k about their own country then the awareness and action will be next to non. They have to care. They have to educate. They have to take pride. The care and pride should have to come from an expat.

Yet just this morning some fat Qatari in a Land Rover parked in front of McDonald’s across from the Hyatt sitting in his car too lazy to get out and order his food blows the horn like a mad man. When he finishes his food. what does he do? Throw all the bags out the window without care. Once again… my point… They have to care first!

LoveItOrLeaveIt2
LoveItOrLeaveIt2
7 years ago
Reply to  BBCA

It’s the Qataris every single time, when will they ever learn !! These Qataris are the biggest problem Qatar is having. Qataris and only the Qataris.
Btw I just came back from the beach today, I left the place cleaner than how it was. I had to remove Heineken cans when I arrived, guess who was drinking them? I BET IT WAS THE QATARIS! who btw are only 15% of the population, many are traveling for summer and a lot don’t go to beaches, this brings the 15% down to what? My guess is 3~5% of those who where on the beach that day or probably less, but yeah it was them and only them because F#$k logic.

You’ve seen a Qatari throw his food out the window today? Quick let’s make a blind generalization and say that ALL QATARIS throw their rubbish out of their cars. Why? Again, because f#$k logic.

Cerebus
Cerebus
7 years ago
Reply to  BBCA

BBCA – Just a thought…..if someone came to your country and posted to a thread a comment like this, beginning it with both a racial stereotype and cursing, however camouflaged, you might take offense as well. I am not Qatari and even i found your post offensive. It makes it impossible to have a meaningful dialogue and encourages poor behavior all around, as evidenced by the comments and arguing. So, now, to what end has all of this gone other than to create more divide? You have valid points, but presented them in a way that was not constructive. And the commentators, who took offense with what you said, missed your point all together. Before hitting post, take a second and read what you wrote, it might help. I too find the beaches to be a disgusting and even dangerous place. I can imagine that there is likely high bacterial content, especially given the high water temps here that results from this in addition to the dangers of broken glass etc. I have seen both expats and locals liter the beach. I think many people feel that with a municipal cleanup crew waiting in the wings, why bother. Its really quite a shame. And its not just a Qatari problem. Litter on the beaches and in and around the waterways ends up being a global problem. From massive trash islands in the Pacific to plastic pellets washing up on beaches around the world, the people on this planet have created catastrophic damage that will take centuries of undoing. Getting into a who litters more debate based on skin color or demographics does little to address the problem. A meaningful dialogue could be a good start. These issues are also discussed in local media, in Arabic, so its not just expats on English language websites where this topic is found. Bad behavior and poor stewardship of the environment is not a Qatari problem, it is a global one, so everyone needs to take note. It extends far beyond the beaches of Qatar. And it starts with you….not them. Be an example, be constructive, be part of a solution.

BBCA
BBCA
7 years ago
Reply to  Cerebus

@wayne_loveless:disqus you are right I did not mean to present a racist overtone. That definitely was not my intention so I do offer apologies to everyone for any offenses I may have issued. Qatar is in fact a wonderful place and I just want to see it do well. I think at a minimum the larger responsibility remains with the people of Qatar to show offense to not only thier people but all the expats that would come into the country and toss litter without a second though.

Muraleedharan
Muraleedharan
7 years ago
Reply to  BBCA

Enceladus, it is never about some nationalities or countries. It is about the society, where we all nationalities live. This is the matter of habits which we practiced from our birth and this is the matter of culture as per BBCA remarks. Some advanced countries will fine or jail for these kinds of spitting and throwing waste in public places. This matter will be cared by the Government and Municipality, whom they are responsible for cleaning public places. In the mean time, they have to implement sufficient law & order for strict punishment for all.

Shabina921
Shabina921
7 years ago
Reply to  BBCA

Deleting this for being racist and offensive. Rein it in, BBCA.

Enceladus
Enceladus
7 years ago
Reply to  Shabina921

I still wonder why my reply to Mr Muraleedharan was deleted… I am not aware that I wrote anything offensive or racist…

DavidRSS8
DavidRSS8
7 years ago

Excellent piece. I couldn’t agree more.

Qatar has a fragile ecosystem and some great beaches. It’s a shame to see them unnecessarily ruined.

Until heavy punishments and strict enforcement for littering are in place, I sadly fear this sort of behavior will continue.

LoveItOrLeaveIt2
LoveItOrLeaveIt2
7 years ago

Go do that. I already made my points about the trash on beach above no need to repeat them if the peanut in your head is not functioning as it should. The rest is about you and your personal problems with a certain nationality.

Saleem
Saleem
7 years ago

Irony of you talking about anybody’s education when you are incapable of even making simple points without resorting to childish insults, I for one am glad to have skipped your “quality” education…

BBCA
BBCA
7 years ago
Reply to  Saleem

Saleem ypu are right I shouldnt havve stooped to those levels but I hope you still understand the sentiment that I was trying to convey

MIMH
MIMH
7 years ago

It is a real shame and not only on the beaches. Maybe I am too sensitive but watching people throw empty food wrappings out of their car, (I suspect because some low paid worker is expected to pick it up), another person open his car doors at the lights for a good spit in the road, beaches and the desert filled with empty alcohol bottles because they are too scared to drink in the hotels makes me very sad. These people are either lazy, ignorant, dirty or a combination of all three.

I remember going to Gharafa Stadium once to play football and they had just had a competition I guess for 7-9 year olds. The amount of rubbish that was left was beyond staggering and as the parents picked them up to take them home did they do or say anything? No. No lessons are given, no lessons learned by the children except their behaviour is ok

Muraleedharan
Muraleedharan
7 years ago
Reply to  MIMH

Forget about children, because they are unaware about the problems. But the father and mother is responsible for their action including their children. They have to clean the places before they leave, like Cornish they are doing. Another thing, that municipality is also careless that the products collected are very very old and there is never a system for cleaning, which I imagine.
Most of the advanced countries had banned plastic bags and Qatar, the richest country in the world, utilizing their environments commercially.

Truth-Seeker
Truth-Seeker
7 years ago

The surrounding environment of any land is usually reflective of the local inhabitant’s culture and its residing population. I’d say, therefore, that we all guilty.

Masboro
Masboro
7 years ago

It’s depressing when yet another important issues descends in to the local / expat slanging match. As the article rightly points out, you can go to most events in the UK and there is always a mountain of waste left behind. The one exception was the Countryside Alliance march against the hunting ban where not a single piece of litter was left. The point being that it is possible for people to go and enjoy themselves without leaving litter behind if they chose to do so and that the lack of respect for the environment and the others who follow is not just restricted to any particular ‘culture’.

outdoorsboys
outdoorsboys
7 years ago

It has to start with the children. Children need to feel ashamed and appalled when they see someone despoiling their country. Clearly , it starts with the home environment, with parents making it clear that it is not acceptable, and leading by example. Schools are the biggest influence after home.
Managing our rubbish is really very difficult in Qatar. No recycling, no collection of reusables, no composting, no place to leave household waste except in an overflowing open receptacle. If you have rubbish to dispose of, where do you take it? Garden waste, old furniture, broken electricals-the list is endless. I just store it, I don’t know where to put it. It is appalling to see litter in the streets and on the beach, but the issue is way way bigger than that. Waste management, it appears to me, is haphazard and ineffectual, there is no engagement with the public , we literally sweep it under the carpet.

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