• March 15, 2017

How SOHAR is helping to save the world, one school at a time

n partnership with the Ministry of Education, the Doha office of UNESCO, Sultan Qaboos University, and a number of other NGOs, SOHAR Port and Freezone is actively supporting the Green Schools Programme in Oman. At Umaia Bint Qais School in Liwa, close to the fast growing industrial Port, one of the most exciting projects is the establishment of a medicinal plant nursery.

The earliest historical records of medicinal plants are found in the Sumerian civilisation, where hundreds of types are listed on clay tablets. Today, drug researchers make use of so-called ethno-botany to search for pharmacologically active substances in nature and have discovered hundreds of useful compounds, including digoxin, quinine and common household drugs such as aspirin. It is estimated that over 12,000 naturally occurring active compounds are already known to science.

Suwaid Al Shamaisi, Executive Manager Corporate Affairs at SOHAR Port and Freezone explains: “The Green Schools project aims to provide a new educational opportunity for students to learn about the importance of herbs and alternative medicine outside the normal confines of the classroom. By enhancing students’ awareness of environmental conservation and sustainability, we are trying to give our next generation a better understanding of how the environment can help to sustain lives.”
Due to environmental destruction, especially in the Amazon jungles, the earth loses an estimated one hundred plant species every day. As the rainforest disappears, so do many potentially valuable drugs. Currently twenty-five per cent of western pharmaceuticals are derived from rainforest materials, but less than one per cent of the materials that exist in the rainforest have ever been tested.

Mark Geilenkirchen, SOHAR CEO, summed up the initiative: “As SOHAR continues to expand as a major regional logistical and industrial hub, we pride ourselves on some of the strictest and best-policed environmental policies in the Middle East. With this project, we hope to enrich students’ education by empowering them to practically apply knowledge learnt at school, both at home and in the community to help reduce ecological impact and encourage sustainable practices.”