OUTLOOK — By Asim Al Shedi — The other morning I was performing my hobby of exploration which often sets upon me whenever I visit a town for the first time. However, on that day I was visiting the Wilayat of Saham, the place where I lived for a long time and breathed its fresh air.
But I found that there was something that I have never experienced before. The city looked to me to be somewhere else and the morning on the beach was not as beautiful as before. There were giant machines like mythical creatures thrusting their claws mercilessly on the buildings and palm trees and bringing them down.
I walked along sinuous labyrinthine lanes in a destitute neighbourhood. There was an old man watching an immense machine sweeping through his farm on which he pinned his dreams of a good yield that could help him with the spiralling cost of living. But it all gone, struck by man-made fate. I stepped out of the car and approached the man, he was squatting upon the ground, tears dripping down his face.
“It is all over” I said. “Everything is now gone”. “But at least you can get a new house and abandon this old neighbourhood with its dilapidated houses” “If I were a shaikh they would give me a whole residential unit, but I am not, I am a poor man. There were five families living in this crumply house of mine and the government compensation wouldn’t afford the price of a single house. I am sure part of this vast land is going to be redistributed to non-deserving people.
Even the sea is inaccessible to me now” He said with deep bitterness. The speech of the old man, who seemed to possess a great wisdom acquired by old age and much experience, opened my eyes on what is being said about the repercussions of the coastal highway. On my way back to the car I was thinking that the new road would have brought about well-being to the residents of the coastal area in the governorates of South and North Al Batinah who suffer grinding poverty. These people live in humble dwellings lacking the simplest necessities of life.
The people who used to reside on the coastline were displaced from their homeland to give way to the new road and the tourism facilities. Luxury hotels will spring in a vast swath of land and will accrue substantial profits to benefit a handful of businessmen. The people whose houses were demolished, should have been compensated more fairly for they lost not only the buildings but also their social relationships that was accumulated over the decades.
The compensation mechanisms were quite unfathomable and unclear. Owners of houses were compensated differently for similar buildings. Those who knew how to cope with the situation emerged winners of enormous sums of money, others are left lamenting their bad experiences. I drove away from the area that no long belongs to us, it seemed as though it was struck by a powerful tempest that swept away all signs of life.