Guest Blog: CALC Field Work in Muscat, Oman

Aug 28, 2023 | ISWA blog, ISWA news

Ashpreet Kaur

Ashpreet Kaur

CALC Project Intern, PhD student, School of Natural Resource and Environment (SNRE), UF Zero Waste Associate (Zero Waste USA)

While everyone is preparing for their visit to Oman and getting ready to learn about new advancement in the area of waste management, the CALC (Circular and Low Carbon Cities) team is currently in Muscat, learning about the circularity of mobile phones and cars. The CALC team members are working with be’ah, the host of ISWA World Congress 2023, to collect data on repair, maintenance, rental, refurbishment, and recycling.

Below are some of the initial findings of our team at the field.

1. Muscat has over 200, and still counting, phone repair and maintenance shops. It has a big market for repairing and maintenance of phones. However, people also buy phones in a similar fashion. They use the phones for 4-5 years, especially local Omanis, and either give it to a family member or sell it at second-hand shops. Hence, second-hand mobile trade is also very popular in Muscat.  

2. We have learned that non-resident immigrants or “ex-pats” such as Pakistanis, Balochis, Filipinos, Indians, and Bangladeshis are more likely to keep using their phones afterrepaor while Omani nationals tend to buy new phones. It may indicate the economic divide between these groups, where some people can afford to buy new phones when needed while others cannot. However, this may not be true for every individual and is just our observation.

3. For cars, we have observed that every family member “needs” to own a car because public transportation is not very accessible. The others’ need to own a car is because of the extreme heat in Oman. Do not underestimate the heat in Oman. It may look like you can walk, but after 10 minutes of continuous walking, your face is going to melt. The heat, the inaccessible public transportation, along with the way the roads are built (you have to drive a long distance before you can make a U-turn) makes it more convenient to drive a car.

4. Additionally, the data on recycling and refurbishing of both cars and mobile phones has been difficult to capture. However, our team has some leads to some scrap dealers, and we are hoping to get some information from them. However, we do know that most of the recycling and refurbishing is happening in Dubai where the cars and mobile phones are exported to. 

While our team is still doing the research and will present its final findings at the ISWA World Congress, as mentioned above, we are still collecting the remaining data. If you know about any reports or any scrap dealers and refurbishers in Oman, please contact us, and we would love to talk to them. The findings will be helpful in learning more about the circularity of mobile phones and cars in Muscat. The findings will also help stakeholders leading with circularity to create better circular systems in Oman.

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