In 1985 the Royal Geographical Society undertook a two-year expedition to the north-eastern region of Oman; an area informally known at the time as the Wahiba Sands and now referred to as the Sharqiya Sands, or Eastern Sands. The forty-strong team aimed to “study the early development of the Sands, its ecosystem and the impact of recent change in order to provide information that is useful to the Government of Oman”.
This research was carried out in five key areas:
- The sedimentary and geomorphological history of the Sands
- Sand movement, moisture and vegetation
- Biological resources and range management
- The indigenous communities and their interrelationships
- Oil wealth and local development
In doing this research they provided new insights into this relatively unknown region at the time. Such information fed into Omani policy design, allowing the government to holistically consider the relationships between the Sands’ ecosystem, its physical environment and its resources as they looked to develop the region economically. On their return, in 1988, the Wahiba Sands Project team produced a set of teaching resources (in collaboration with BP) based on these same five areas. Thirty years later these resources have now been updated and they allow us to both celebrate the original expedition and compare today’s Sharqiya region to that of the time.