Urban Lightscapes/Social Nightscapes Workshop at Souq Seeb

A Lighting Design Workshop at GUtech, held in cooperation with the London School of Economics end of April

BARKA/LONDON The German University of Technology in Oman (GUtech) is collaborating with the Configuring Light programme based at the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE), the Social Light Movement (SLM) and lighting manufacturer iGuzzini to host a four day lighting design and social research workshop for GUtech students entitled “Urban Lightscapes/Social Nightscapes Muscat”. This workshop will run 25-29 April and train the students in social research methods and lighting design to help improve the lighting at Souq Seeb. The students will produce new lighting designs for Souq Seeb which will be presented to the public at the GUtech research hall this Thursday at 4 pm.

This project is part of the “Urban Lightscapes/Social Nightscapes” international workshop series of the Configuring Light programme. These workshops are organised with support from iGuzzini to explore and build expertise in social research in lighting design and work with actual public realm spaces in different locations, from London to Muscat and Sydney.

“We are pleased to collaborate with LSE for this special lighting workshop here at GUtech. Experts in light design and social research will provide our students with theoretical and practical knowledge about the use of lighting and its effects on public life here in Oman,” said Dr. Jürgen Werner, Deputy Rector for Academic Affairs at GUtech. “We are very excited to take our workshop series to Oman and work with GUtech on questions around public space, social research and lighting design” added Dr Don Slater, co-founder of the Configuring Light programme and assistant professor at LSE Sociology.

With its bright and intense sunlight during the day and where a significant part of social life takes place after dusk, light has a traditionally importance for social life in Oman. “Light plays a prominent role in various processes of infrastructural intervention and  social research can play a crucial role in analysing the current lighting situation in cities, while incorporating the cultural-specific role of lighting and its technological changes,” said Alexander Kader, Head of the Department of Urban Planning and Architectural Design (UPAD) at GUtech who has collaborated with the LSE team to organise the workshop, alongside Frank Eisenmann.

In line with Configuring Light’s broader research agenda, the aim of the joint GUtech-LSE workshop is to explore and understand the lighting of social spaces in Muscat through social research. This will form the basis for the new lighting designs which will be developed by students in the workshop. Through lighting mock-ups with iGuzzini fixtures, GUtech students will have the opportunity to try their lighting design ideas on-site. “As an ideal location to analyse the social fabric we have identified Souq Seeb, a popular place among the local Omani and expatriate community,” said Kader.

The workshop will help 4th semester students get practical expertise in social research and lighting design and help them understand light as a fundamental aspect of modern urban life and public space.

The “Urban Lightscapes/Social Nightscapes” workshop series are a project of the Configuring Light/Staging the Social LSE-based research programme and are run as a collaboration between iGuzzini and Dr Elettra Bordonaro (SLM). Configuring Light/Staging the Social explores the role lighting plays in our everyday life to help build a better social knowledge basis for lighting design interventions. It was founded in 2012 by the sociologists Dr Joanne Entwistle (King’s College London), Dr Don Slater and Mona Sloane (both LSE) and is supported by the LSE and the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC). Past and current collaborators of Configuring Light include Ove Arup, Derby City Council, Speirs+Major, Lend Lease, the Wellcome Collection and the London Science Museum.

The “Urban Lightscapes/Social Nightscapes Muscat” workshop was initiated and is led by Mona Sloane and Dr Elettra Bordonaro together with Dr Don Slater and Isabelle Corten (SLM) and in collaboration with Alexander Kader of the GUtech UPAD Department.

For further details please contact, Alexander Kader of the UPAD Department: alexander.kader@gutech.edu.om

Twitter: #muscatlights

Facebook: Configuring Light/Staging the Social






Understanding Cultural Differences – A Tuesday Tourism Talk

HALBAN Intercultural competence is the deep understanding of cultural differences with your intellect and with your heart,” said Prof. Dr. Patricia East of Munich University of Applied Sciences,  during her lively talk on “Intercultural Competence in Tourism”, held as part of the series of Tuesday Tourism Talks organised by Prof. Dr. Heba Aziz, head of department of Logistics, Tourism and Service Management at the German University of Technology in Oman (GUtech).

During her talk Prof. East stressed that intercultural competence means perceiving and accepting that different cultures have different value systems and different concepts of normal behaviour and procedures. Cultural identity is not defined by geographical borders, but by sharing a value system, be it regional, social, religious, age, or any other group system; and cultures are constantly evolving, especially today with the huge amount of exposure and interaction through the internet.

Tourists on holidays usually just see the visible surface aspects of a culture, explained Prof. East. They see what people eat, how they dress, how they behave in public. But they do not really learn to understand the deeper-lying values, the invisible seven eighths of the so-called “iceberg of culture”; this requires deeper awareness of one’s own norms and understanding of cultural differences such as hierarchies, relationships within groups, acceptance or avoidance of risk, etc. These aspects of intercultural understanding are especially important in all business relations, above all in the world of tourism management where cultural interaction is part of so many people’s work.

Intercultural communication is an integral part of the tourism programme at the Munich University of Applied Sciences, where Prof. Dr. East has been professor of sustainable tourism and intercultural communication for over 20 years. “Intercultural communication was neglected in tourism education for a long time, but is now recognised in most state of the art programmes” said Prof. Dr. East.

“We are very pleased to have Prof. East with us today as a speaker in our TTT seminar;  in the light of the current world events it is of paramount importance to stress the importance of intercultural communication in order to avoid dangerous stereotyping.”

TTT is monthly seminar dedicated to highlighting important issues in tourism and business. The seminar is held and organised by the department of logistics, tourism and service management, Faculty of Business and Economics at GUtech.  The Faculty of Business and economics currently run two academic programmes one is International business and service management, focusing on the tourism sector and the other is Logistics.  Two of five economic sectors earmarked to lead the Omani economy according to Oman vision 2040.

GUtech alumnis participate in Oman Oil’s “OXEA Graduate Programme”

MUSCATA group of six Omani graduates from various universities including two Engineering alumni of the German University of Technology in Oman (GUtech) recently departed to Germany for a two year training programme, the “Oxea Graduate Programme”, which was launched by Oman Oil Company.

In March last year Oman Oil Company (OOC), OXEA and GUtech signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to prepare the young graduates for their work in the industry. The graduates will work for two years at the chemical plant in Germany and the US. The students were selected out of more than 1000 applications. “I am looking forward to the training programme in Germany. I will be more exposed to the industry and to real life,” said Rawan Al Yaarubi, GUtech alumni in Process Engineering. The main aim of the training programme is for the students to understand the work processes of OXEA, its chemical plants and the different administrative departments. Back in Oman they will then be able to support the setting-up of a new chemical plant in Duqm, by 2017.

The Oxea internship programme started already in July last year in Germany, where the students worked in laboratories. Moreover, they were taught soft skills and technical laboratory courses at GUtech. “During the internship we learnt a lot about the mechanical processes within an industrial plant. I also learnt about the AutoCAD software, we had many site visits and a lot of laboratory work” said Rowan. For her, this is not her first stay abroad. “I was an exchange student in Kentucky (USA) when I was in grade 10. I am looking forward to living in Germany for two years. I like the German culture,” she said while adding: “The employees at OXEA in Germany were very welcoming,” She was one among only a few female employees working in the chemical plant. The GUtech students have studied German for three semesters at GUtech and attended an intensive eight week German language course at the Goethe Institute in Muscat.

The “OXEA Graduate Programme”, which was launched in 2015, is a specialized programme that targets fresh graduates from various disciplines such as engineering, finance, marketing and information systems; where they will be sent for an intensive on-the-job training programme for a minimum of two years in OXEA’s biggest plants; Germany and the United States. Through this programme, candidates will gain adequate skills as well as experiences that will develop and advance their professional competencies. After completing the training programme successfully, the candidates will have the opportunity to join the OOC Duqm project team in Duqm’s economic zone.

Students succeed in the German Language Exam of the Goethe Institut

Recently a group of ten GUtech students has passed the Language Exam A1 of the Goethe Institut, the German Language and Culture Center. Studying German is part of the curricula at the university. “The certificate helps the students for studying at a German university,” said Andrea Cornelissen, Representative of the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) and German Lecturer at GUtech.

The Head of the Goethe Institut in Muscat, Sabine Brachmann-Bosse, conducted the exams at GUtech. The exam was held for 90 minutes and is similar to IELTS English tests covering writing, reading, speaking and listening.

In order to motivate students to improve their German language and cultural skills, GUtech is planning to conduct the German Exam on a regular basis. At the university students study German for three semesters, however the language of tuition at GUtech is English. GUtech fosters exchange between Germany and Oman, especially with its German partner-university RWTH Aachen University.



Geologists call for the protection of new caves

A group of geologists who are based in Oman and Germany, have recently discovered two new caves in Jebel Al Akdhar mountains (Oman), with the help of villagers. The caves are around 40 meters below the ground. The German geoscientist and lecturer at the Department of Applied Geosciences at GUtech, Matthias López Correa, was part of the team. In Oman this is the first cave discovery he has undertaken along with Omani colleagues, among them Dr. Mohammed al Kindi the former president of the Geological Society of Oman (GSO). Last weekend the entrance to the new cave named “Khislat Hayl al Diyar” has been closed in accordance with ministry officials to protect its pristine and beautiful formations.

In an interview Matthias López Correa pointed out his concerns for the protection of this fragile environment inside our Earth. “I think the cave is one of many caves to be discovered in the area. However, despite the beauty of the cave it is very important to mention that a cave is a highly vulnerable environment that needs to be protected,” he said while adding that only experts who have the right equipment should access the cave and not the general public.

The delicate dripstones and crystals inside the caves have been formed over 1.000 or 10.000 years and hence need to be protected from too many visitors, which could destroy them very quickly. Thus he believes that public awareness and geological education is important, according to the motto: “What you know and value, can be protected”.

According to the researcher, caves are fascinating features that host important archives about our climate and can help understand past climate change. “They explain a lot about the history of the landscape and the uplifting of mountains,” he said. The drip stones were formed by rain water from rain fall on the plateau, which disappeared through faults and cracks inside the stones and dissolve the limestone on the way. This dissolved calcium carbonate formed beautiful crystals or other formations. Usually small insects and other animals like bats nest inside caves as well.

Matthias López Correa has been involved in cave research since his childhood in the South of Germany. Later on, during his studies at university and over the years he has been involved in international cave research including the survey of the Ghar Alisadr in Iran, a 13 km long cave.