Camping in vast open deserts is not just a pastime or play, rather it is a centuries-old lifestyle of the people of this region who love to spend their lives in the lap of nature. Now winter is back. The start of winter season also brings back the season of desert camping as thousands of people – particularly citizens – indulge in camping in open, night-time-cold deserts to make their souls refresh and bodies agile.
Many citizens and residents wait for the winter season every year so that they can enjoy camping and desert life. Cold weather, tranquillity attract people especially families to enjoy the camping season.
No doubt, the camping season presents a great opportunity to nature-lovers to break their dull, hectic routine of life through exploring vastness of nature, indulging in little adventures, meeting with friends, extended family members and enjoying the eager air of nights.
The citizens and residents make special preparations on weekends to spend some beautiful moments outside the cities at the camping sites. Camping also provides a fun atmosphere for children tired of everyday-the-same school and study routines.
In addition to recreational activities, camping also provides an important educational aspect to people who learn a lot about the life in the desert and practice many sports and traditional games.
Qatar is distinguished by its natural places which are suitable for camping, and the campers of Arab and other nationalities flock to the camping areas with the beginning of winter and rainy season. Most part of the country, this year, has received plenty of rain.
The winter camping season 2019-20 began on October 30 last year and will continue until March 2020. The registration for the five-month long winter camping season opened on October 14.
With the beginning of winter camping, many regular campers installed their tents under the sun and made all necessary arrangements such as food, drink, and recreational provisions such as television and sports equipment, while others prefer organising the trip every weekend along with friends and family members.
For citizens, the camping is part of Qatari traditions, where the people looking for rest, tranquillity and recuperation begin to head towards camping-areas to replace the city’s life with the wildlife.
Many people are keen to enjoy this season from the first day as it starts. They organise trips to the wildlife every week and purchase all necessary equipment such as tents, seats, lighting and other requirements that guarantee them comfort amidst beautiful nature.
“We are keen to organise trips every weekend to Al Shamal (around 70km from Doha) along with our friends and relatives. It is a place where we find ourselves very comfortable and enjoy good atmosphere, vastness of desert in addition to pleasant winds,” said a resident Salem.
“In addition to its psychological and emotional benefits, such outings give campers a chance to meet their friends. Meeting with friends you miss for a long time is one of the most beautiful moments, especially in the beautiful nature that make you happy,” he added.
Another camper, Khaled Mohsin, commented: “We are organising these trips since last year. We do not find a suitable occasion that may bring us all together like this. We enjoy many traditional games that we used to play in our countries.”
To a question on how they organise their trips, he said: “Every Friday, we buy all necessary items and cook for ourselves using firewood in which everybody takes part that adds more fun to the trip.”
Mokhtar, another camper, said: “The winter camping trip offers us a get together with friends and we indulge ourselves in many traditional games. Sometimes, we go out with our families and sometimes without them. We have formed teams to play some sports and prepare barbecues at night.”
“Our children also enjoy these places and we are educating them about the life in the desert and names of trees. Every Friday, we spend around six hours at the camping site,” he added.
Also, there are some people who prefer going to natural reserves to spend their time where they can see various animals and trees. The country has 12 land reserves and 2 marine reserves of which Khor Al Odeid or ‘Inland Sea’ is the biggest nature reserve. Khor Al Odeid is a Unesco recognised natural reserve which is one of Qatar’s most impressive natural wonders.
The Ministry of Municipality and Environment has developed a strategic plan to preserve the natural environment in the country. Ministry officials frequently conduct checks to monitor violations and ensure that endangered species of plants and animals are not harmed.
Some of the other nature reserves of Qatar include: Al Shahaniya (Al Dosari Zoo), popular for Arabian oryx and Arabian Goitered gazelle – Nubian ibex; Al Qurum; Al Dakhira; Al Reem reserve, represents almost all the quarter northwest of Qatar where oryx and Arabian gazelles can be spotted; Al Ariq; Al Wasil; Al Masshabiya, Arabian oryx can be found here; Brouq and Al Rafaa.
Al Dosari Zoo is one of the few places in the world where the sea encroaches deep into the heart of the desert. This is the reason that Khor Al Odeid is also one of two marine reserves that the country has; the second marine reserve being Al Dakhira.
To protect the wildlife, the Department of Protection and Wildlife at the Ministry of Municipality and Environment is conducting daily inspections and recently the department recorded 393 violations of some provisions of environmental law during 2019.
The violations included throwing wastes at undesignated places, drifting on soil, grazing camels on prohibited pastures, hunting prohibited birds, cutting trees illegally and dumping sewerage water and cement wastes at undesignated areas.
The Department deployed special patrolling teams across the country to protect the green land and environment of the country. A hotline 998 was also issued for citizens and expatriates to report to the Department if they come across any type of environmental violation.
Sidi Mohamed | The Peninsula