DOHA: Concerned over four deaths due to drowning during recent Eid Al Fitr holidays, Qataris have demanded lifeguard services at beaches in the country.
Qatar is small but has a long coastline dotted with sprawling and picturesque beaches. Most have no lifeguards, though, says a Qatari.
The only beach that has a proper team of trained rescue personnel is part of Katara Cultural Village, said Fahad Al Kuwari.
The need for lifeguards at beaches is felt intensely as four people, including a young Kenyan couple, drowned while taking a swim during Eid holidays.
The main beaches in the country include, aside from Katara, Al Wakra and Sealine in Mesaieed, those in Al Shamal, Al Khor, Al Udaid in the south, Umm Bab, West Bay, Dukhan and Fuwairid.
Al Kuwari said he finds it strange that while Qatar has developed so much in almost all areas, not many of its beaches except the one at Katara has lifeguards.
A prominent Central Municipal Council member, Ahmed Al Sheeb, and Al Kuwari told the Arabic daily Al Raya in comments published yesterday that a beach development plan was the need of the hour and lifeguard services should be part of it.
Details suggest that a Nepali drowned while taking a swim in the sea off Sealine during Eid holidays and in the sea at Al Wakra, the Kenyan couple died.
In Al Shamal, a 44-year-old Pakistani was rescued while he was drowning, according to a local Arabic daily.
And if mortuary sources in Al Wakra are to be believed, an Arab expatriate child was among those drowned.
“We have some of the most beautiful beaches but lack a comprehensive development plan,” Al Sheeb said.
There are no rescue teams although currents are very strong in the sea in the West Bay, for instance, said Al Sheeb.
In Sealine, the sea gets quite deeper not far away from the shore, posing risks for swimmers.
“It is sad that as a country we have developed so much but don’t have safe beaches.
“We need all facilities required at a beach and that include lifeguards as well as shaded areas and toilets,” he added.
Trained rescue personnel are needed to man the beaches, said Al Kuwari, adding that CCTV cameras should also be installed there to closely monitor swimmers and their safety.
“This is our demand.”
Another national, Abdullah Al Tamimi, said the country’s beaches didn’t have even minimum facilities.
“It is quite sad that from time to time we hear of deaths due to drowning.”
Another CMC member, Ali Al Athba, said there was the need to create awareness about safety while people venture into the sea for swimming.