‘Ports and Trans-Ports in the Indian Ocean’ – An international Workshop launched

HALBAN A non-public international workshop exploring the various historical and contemporary networks and mobility on sea and on land within the Indian Ocean was launched at the History of Science Centre of the German University of Technology in Oman (GUtech) today morning. The workshop entitled: “International Start-Up Workshop Ports and Trans-Ports. Evolution and Revolution(s) in the Indian Ocean World”, is organized by the Research Centre Indian Ocean (RIO), in cooperation with Martin Luther University Halle-Wittenberg, the Max Plank Institute for Social Anthropology, Sindh University and the International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS). International scholars from various fields and from universities in Europe, the Middle East and Asia are participating in the three-day workshop.

Dr. Armin Eberlein, Vice-Rector for Academic Affairs at GUtech, welcomed the delegates. In his speech he said that the workshop is held at the right time, when Oman with its unique geographical location in the Indian Ocean, prepares to be become a commercial and strategic hub in the region, focusing on trade, logistics, fishing and tourism. Prof. Dr. Michael Jansen, Director of RIO, an archaeologist and the Founding-Rector of GUtech, explained in his welcome speech that sea routes and networks develop out of needs and knowledge of places to sail to, connected with needs of ‘goods’ to be brought or taken along. Improvement of shop technology and astronomic/navigation capacity resulted in the exploitation of the Indian Ocean water ways. First interregional networks developed between the Indus Valley, Mesopotamia and Oman in the Third Millennium. Other networks developed along the river Nile, the Red Sea and the Mediterranean. Later on, many more networks developed out of which the Roman network connected the Roman Empire via the Red Sea to India, Malakka to China.  This morning Prof. Jansen presented his archaeological research on Mohenjo-Daro to the audience. Prof. Dr. Khaled Douglas from Sultan Qaboos University, Department of Archeology, presented his excavations at Dahwa Inland and Coast: A case for Hinterland Ports. Dr. Denny Frenez from the University of Bologna and the Italian Institute for the Middle and Far East (ISMEO) spoke about his research “Indian Ocean Seafaring Trade in the Bronze Age. The Indus-Magan Connection”.

As part of the international workshop an evening lecture will be held tomorrow evening at Kempinski Hotel Al Mouj, at 8 pm.“How to Study an Ocean: Connectivity in Motion and the Indian Ocean World”, a Talk by Prof. Dr. Burkhard Schnepel, Martin Luther University, Germany and Director of the Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology

(c) GUtech; Text & Photo: Dr. Manuela Gutberlet

 

Next Tuesday – A Talk by Prof. Dr. Burkhard Schnepel, Social Anthropologist

“How to read an Ocean? Connectivity in Motion. Port Cities of the Indian Ocean”

Location: Kempinski Hotel Muscat, Muscat Ballroom

Time: Tuesday 05th March 2019, 8 pm

The Research Center Indian Ocean (RIO) of the German University of Technology in Oman invites the public for a public lecture by Prof Dr. Burkhard Schnepel, Martin Luther University, Halle-Wittenberg (Germany) and Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology. “Since its first times of seafaring, the Indian Ocean has remained the mayor life nerve for all nations living around it.” said Prof. Dr. Michael Jansen, Director of the Research Centre Indian Ocean.

Prof. Schnepel is currently the Director of the Max Planck Fellowship-Programme entitled “Connectivity in Motion: Port Cities of the Indian Ocean”. He is an internationally renowned Social Anthropologist. He is also a Member of the Expert Committee on the Indian Ocean of the Foreign Office in Germany. His research areas include the phenomenon of ‘hubs’ and networks between East Africa, Mauritius, India and the Indian Ocean World. “This basic capacity of so-called ‘maritime hubbing’ was constantly refined and extended, and consequently being made use of outside the maritime world as well at various levels and in different domains or dimensions of socio-cultural, technical, economic and political life,” said Burkhard Schnepel, who is a member of a Research Group at the Research Centre Indian Ocean (RIO). He will be part of a three-day workshop on the research topic: “Ports and Trans-Ports; Evolution and Revolution(s) in the Indian Ocean World” The exclusive research workshop will take place at GUtech. Experts from more than eight countries will meet to discuss the potentials for a large international conference to be held in Muscat in 2020 on the role of Oman in the Indian Ocean World, its past, present and future. Prof. Dr. Burkhard Schnepel’s research interests include the following areas: Divine Kingship of the Shilluk of the Southern Sudan, the Theories of Divine Kingship and Political Theology, the History of Anthropological Thought, Historical Anthropology, Orientalism, Tourism and Cultural Heritage.

The fringes of the Indian Ocean including the Sultanate of Oman are not only the cradle of the three earliest World Civilizations, Egypt, Mesopotamia and Indus Valley, but also the cradle of the major World Religions, Judaism, Hinduism, Buddhism, Christianity and Islam. The Sultanate of Oman covers a central position within the interaction sphere of the earliest civilizations. Since the earliest times Omanis made use of boats as proved in Ras al Hadd. In the third Millennium contacts from Oman, at least of trading, consisted to the Indus Civilization and to Mesopotamia as again proved in Ras al Hadd, Dahwa near Sohar and Salut.

Omani ports like Sohar, Qualhat, Sur and al Baleed in Dhofar played a major role. Throughout its history Oman remained in contact with the Indian Ocean World before two thousand years, with the Silk Road to the Sea along with the sea trade of the Roman Empire as proved in Khor Rohri, followed by the trade with China during the Abbasid period. With the appearance of the Portuguese in 1497 the European colonial phase started with consequences in various fields, that we may feel up to today. The most recent movements are marked by a competition for trade and influence along the important international sea and new land routes.

 

weDrone Forum – Opportunities, Challenges and Risks discussed

HALBAN – The German University of Technology in Oman (GUtech) has held the “weDrone – Business Forum” at its campus in Halban today. The forum was conducted under the auspices of Dr. Mohammed Nasser Ali Al-Zaabi, CEO of the Public Authority for Civil Aviation (PACA). The one-day forum brought together a large number of experts and scientists from the international and local drone sector as well as local businesses that are interested in introducing drones for their operations in Oman. The forum was held at GUtech for the second time and it was organized in cooperation with the Public Authority for Civil Aviation (PACA) and the local company Brave Hawks LLC.

According to Prof. Dr. Nafaa Jabeur from GUtech’s Department of Computer Sciences and Director of Research at GUtech, the forum aimed to connect different stakeholders in order to create awareness about the legal framework, the space management and the inspection and surveillance of drone technologies. Drones are used for example for real time analysis to monitor traffic control including traffic jams and accidents as well as to monitor construction sites, mining operations or agricultural yields.

With increased mobility worldwide, the challenge is to integrate drone technologies into the air traffic and to comply with various safety regulations. Currently, it is prohibited to use drones for private purpose in Oman. According to Eng. Mubarak Al Farsi from PACA, the use of photographic aircrafts is prohibited. UNIFly, an engineering software company from Belgium has developed a software that helps to deploy drones in safe environments. Koen Meuleman, Founder and Chief Financial Operator of UNIFly showcased the software that is already applied in several European countries to the audience. Meuleman said that the software helps to monitor the flight traffic in real time to reach out to the community and to manage the access of the airspace.

However, there are several threats and ethical issues related to the use of drones, such as breaching personal privacy, flying a drone over crowded places is illegal and endangering the natural environment such as birds. “We have been using drones since 2013. Their use saves us time and costs. We use them in the interior of Oman for surveying, geological mapping and for oil and gas inspections.” said Usman Jamil, Manager of GIS and 3D Data Management at Dawood Engineering Consultancy. Similarly, Petroleum Development Oman (PDO) has been using drones in the past ten years for pipeline and flare inspections, for project development and for monitoring their oil and gas operations, said Khadija Al Aisari, Head of Remote Sensing at PDO. According to Hans Van Calster and Kevin Wippermann, from Duqm Port the port will be developed into a ‘Smart Port’ in the next years, using drones for its overall operations.

To promote research and development between universities and the drone industry, a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed between GUtech, Hasselt University (Belgium) and the companies Brave Hawks (Oman) and Drone Matrix (Belgium). Given the introduction phase of the use of drones in Oman, Prof. Dr. Geert Wets, Director of the Mobility Institute at Hasselt University said that it is important to conduct research case-studies along with the development of the drone sector in Oman. “Through our research projects we wish to further collaborate with the government, businesses and the education sector to to create joint competencies for the production and a responsible use of drones in Oman and in the region,” said Prof. Dr. Nafaa Jabeur.

 

 

The Principal of the Indian School Muscat and a member of CBSE visited GUtech today

HALBAN GUtech was pleased to welcome Dr. Rajeev Kumar Chauhan, Principal of the Indian School Muscat and Dr. Ram Shankar, Joint Secretary of the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) on campus today morning. Dr. Armin Eberlein, Vice-Rector for Academic Affairs and Dr. Manuela Gutberlet, PR Manager at GUtech welcomed the guests and showed them around campus They also met with academic staff members of different departments. GUtech started its academic summer semester today.

(c) GUtech; Text: Dr. Manuela Gutberlet; Photo: Praveen Louis

Success stories from GUtech’s Department of Urban Planning and Architecture

HALBAN To highlight the successful development of the German University of Technology in Oman (GUtech) over the past decade, Prof. Nikolaus Knebel, one of the founding staff of the Department of Urban Planning and Architectural Design (UPAD), published a book to summarize his approach to educating architects and urban planners in Oman. “While the professional realm of architects and urban planners is still emerging in Oman my teaching emphasizes what is usually rather at opposite ends of academic education, namely the real and the theoretical.”, said Prof. Nikolaus Knebel.

Prof. Knebel’s book on “Ten Projects on Educating Architects in Oman” is currently presented at the Muscat International Book Fair, Oman Convention and Exhibition Centre. The book discusses ten study projects, each characterized by a verb that stands for the main activity: find, plan, try, make, engage, build, explore, sense, reflect, envision. One set of projects aims to expose students to primary experiences that are relevant for architects and urban planners, such as working with real materials and real sites, e.g. when students learn how to mix mortar, lay mud-bricks in a bond, ram earth, use natural stones, cut and join timber, and test palm leaves as a roof cover. “With that hands-on experience of using different tools, handling materials and understanding processes on site, students then set out to design a new prayer room for GUtech’s sports facilities,” said Prof. Nikolaus Knebel. Students also meet with professionals from the consulting and construction industry to get to know the everyday problems that architects and urban planners face while doing their everyday work. Projects such as the award-winning EcoHaus, the research into the Social Housing Project, the setting up of a building yard on campus are preparing students for their future jobs.

In another set of projects Prof. Nikolaus Knebel focuses on continuously building up the students’ theoretical knowledge. “Our projects like the experimental design workshops with the Architectural Association in London and my emphasis on reading and discussion key theoretical texts during our excursions to the UAE and Qatar in recent years or in seminars on Design Thinking aim at nurturing a fundamental knowledge that underlies architectural practice regardless of the fashion of the season,” he said. “Throughout the past years we visited different projects in Qatar, UAE, Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands to understand the practical and theoretical challenges of current topics such as identity, community, mobility, energy and digitalization. Students saw gigantic new airports and miniature prayer rooms, solar cars and passive energy saving houses, student companies and multinational architecture firms, but they also read the key texts.” Finally through reflection about their own work and skills, awareness is created about the entire design process. “Students become more confident, and thus more agile designers, individually and collectively” highlighted Prof. Knebel.

Successful GUtech graduates from the Department of Urban Planning and Architectural Design (UPAD) have moved on in their educational path and completed their Master’s degree abroad, for example in Germany, France, Italy, UK, US, South Korea. Some already embarked on PhD programmes. Many graduates now work as architects in Oman and the region, independently or in the government sector, such as the planning departments of different ministries in Oman, the Supreme Council for Planning in Muscat or with prestigious local consultants such as Khatib & Alami, Atkins, 23 degrees or Hoehler & Salmi Architects. Soon, fresh graduates and professionals can earn a Master’s degree in architecture and urban planning, at GUtech in Oman. Admission into the programme is open and scholarships are available.

(c) GUtech, Text & Photo: Prof. Nikolaus Knebel and Dr. Manuela Gutberlet

 

weDrone – Business Forum at GUtech on 27 February

HALBAN The German University of Technology in Oman (GUtech) will hold the “weDrone – Business Forum” on Wednesday 27 February at its campus in Halban. The forum, organized for the second time by GUtech, will be held in cooperation with the Public Authority for Civil Aviation (PACA) and the local company Brave Hawks LLC. The forum aims to bring together experts and scientists from the local and international drone sector. In April 2018 GUtech was the first institution in Oman to address the increasingly important topic of drones. “We are engaging with different stakeholders from Oman as well as from abroad to create awareness about the local legal framework, the management of space where drones are operating, and some critical uses of drones including the inspection and surveillance. During the upcoming event we would like to showcase the different potentials of drones for Oman and we wish to motivate the government, businesses and the education sector to collaborate and create joint competencies for the production and the use of drones in Oman,” said Prof. Dr. Nafaa Jabeur, a drone expert and the main organizer from the Department of Computer Sciences and Director of Research at GUtech. “Oman is in the first stage of developing a drone industry, the usage of drones and the legal framework that fit to the local and regional context. The use of drones is not only about regulations but most important about a responsible, ethical use and behaviour when using drone technologies,” said Prof. Dr. Nafaa Jabeur.

Other topics that will be covered during the upcoming weDrone Business Forum will be the application of drones to support sustainable energy management or logistics. Currently drones are used to monitor operations in the oil and gas industry as well as in agriculture, construction and filming. For the professional use of drones there is a legal framework in place, however regulations regarding the use by laymen and hobbyists are under review by the government.

For more details on the Business Forum please check out the website: wedrone.gutech.edu.om

The participation in the forum is free of charge. The registration is open until 26 February.

(C) Text: GUtech/Dr. Manuela Gutberlet

 

 

The Rector meets with the Vice-President of the Bundestag

BERLIN The Rector of GUtech, Prof. Dr. Ing. Michael Modigell, had the honour to meet with H.E. Thomas Oppermann, Vice-President of the German Bundestag (Parliament) at his office in the capital Berlin last week. During the bilateral meeting they discussed ways to further strengthen the ties between GUtech and Germany. During an official visit to the Sultanate, the Vice-President of the Bundestag visited the GUtech campus and spoke with the Rectorate and with a number of students from the Student Council last October.

 

GUtech and Outward Bound Oman are conducting joint Life Skills Courses for Engineering students

HALBAN To enhance the student’s overall life skills, the German University of Technology in Oman (GUtech) and Outward Bound Oman (OBO) have jointly conducted a theoretical and practical course for twenty GUtech Engineering students. The main aim of the course is to develop to students’ personal and professional skills. ”Life skills courses have become a key parameter to prepare the students for their future work environment while achieving their highest level of performance. The Engineering Department has taken the opportunity to offer this special course to our students. While preparing them for their employment, we believe that such courses are very important in driving our graduates to achieve their goals and to be successful engineers in the future,” said Dr. Najah Al Mhanna, Head of the Engineering Department.

A Collaborative Agreement (CA) was signed between GUtech and OBO in September last year. In the first part of the course, GUtech staff delivered the theory, whilst the OBO team organized the relevant field-based elements outside the university, during an excursion to Wadi Al Abyad. Throughout the seminar, key-life skills such as taking responsibility, active engagement in learning and work, creative thinking and problem solving, innovative thinking, leadership, time management, study attitude towards mistakes, planning, communication and teamwork skills were discussed. “The course helps students to enhance their future employment, as well as to equip them with vital project management skills,” said Ali Al-Humairi, Senior Lecturer in the Computer Science Department and the leading coordinator of the programme. “The main objective of the theoretical course is to provide students with basic employment skills like leadership, teamwork and work ethics,” said Prof. Dr. Ayham Al Rahawi from the Engineering Department who was responsible for the theoretical part.

“We are very glad to have partnered with GUtech and to conduct the first practical part of the course for their outstanding Engineering students. Our carefully designed course helped the students to be ready and willing to make a positive contribution to society, ensures they are exposed to the key life skills sought by leading employers in Oman, and to have a greater appreciation of the natural environment,” said Mark Evans, General Manager of OBO. OBO is a non-profit organisation that operates under the Ministry of Social Development. The company was founded in 2009, and further established by a Ministerial Decision in 2014.

(c) GUtech

‘Building Embassy’ – An architecture student project

HALBAN As part of an integrated project, entitled ‘Botschaft-Bauen’, in English ‘Embassy building’, a total of 44 students of the Department of Urban Planning and Architectural Design (UPAD) planned and designed a new Turkish Embassy building during the winter semester. The group of UPAD students included four German exchange students from the University of Applied Sciences in Buxtehude and from RWTH Aachen University, who are currently studying at GUtech. “I am very much impressed of the projects inspired by the Turkish architecture, houses, and the culture like the evil eye, the whirling derwishes or the Turkish yali, a mansion beside the waterfront. I would like to congratulate all students,” said H.E. Ayşe Sözen Usluer, Ambassador of the Republic of Turkey in Oman. The Ambassador attended one of the presentation sessions. First Counsellor at the German Embassy the creative ideas as well as the technical skills of the students are impressive. It was a pleasure to discuss the designs with both the students and their professors. Kudos to GUtech for producing such quality!” said Joachim Düster.

During the initial phase of the course the students and their professors discussed different aspects of Embassy buildings. “An Embassy is a representation of a nation, a symbol for cultural exchange, a place of refuge for citizens and it is like an island, isolated from the rest of the city,” said Prof. Ercan Agirbas while Prof. Wayne Switzer of the UPAD department added: “An Embassy is a place and at the same time an Embassy means building diplomacy with another country. On the one hand an Embassy is the face of a nation and on the other hand this representation must be balanced with real issues of security.” To learn more about the design of different Embassies in Muscat, the group visited the German and the French Embassy in the beginning of the semester. For the presentation of their results, all Ambassadors were invited and the cultural attaches from France, Turkey and from the German Embassy attended different sessions where the students recently presented their final results. In addition, the students also traveled to Istanbul last semester. The excursion was an important part, where they experienced the place in reality. Moreover, the project manager of the newly build German Embassy from Hoehler + AlSalmy Architects, Daniel Schulze-Wethmar attended the sessions. “Each students had 5 minutes to present and 10 minutes for the discussion. Drawings, models and renderings like physical or digital models were presented,” said Prof. Ercan.

“We had very diverse projects related to aspects of Turkish culture like the evil eye, domes etc. One design was buried in the ground and another one was floating over a garden. What made every project very good was the level of engagement of the students and how they were committed to the task,” said Wayne. Both professors stressed that “there were many best ideas, for example the most creative ideas or the most rational layout.” Currently, an architecture office is working on the design of the Turkish Embassy, possibly some student ideas will influence their planning process.

(c) GUtech/ Text: Dr. Manuela Gutberlet; Photo: UPAD Department

 

GUtech’s MSc in Computer Sciences: Innovation, IT Technology Management and Data Sciences

HALBAN The new Master of Science programme in Computer Sciences at GUtech takes advantage of the strategic direction of the Sultanate of Oman towards industrialisation and entrepreneurship in the field of Information Technology. GUtech’s Department of Computer Sciences will start the MSc programme in March 2019; partial scholarships are available. “The programme provides a unique, comprehensive curriculum consisting of theoretical and applied knowledge of Computer Sciences, IT technology management and emerging technologies in large data processing and analysis. The subjects taught include machine learning, big data analytics, and network forensic as well as network security. By choosing a specialisation, students can prepare for their favourite career paths. In addition, GUtech has signed a ‘Study Abroad’ agreement with Hasselt University in Belgium, which allows students to take one additional semester and earn a second Master degree in Transportation Science. Possible future career paths are as transportation planners, traffic safety consultants or a managers of public transportation companies,” said Prof. Dr. Nabil Sahli, Head of the Department of Computer Sciences at GUtech, while adding that the MSc programme is tailored to equip the students with entrepreneurial skills matching the national priorities for a profitable and sustainable growth.

The MSc programme is designed for fresh graduates and working professionals having Bachelor degrees in Computer Science, Information Science, or an equivalent degree with a solid background in programming and software development skills. “Classes will be held during the week between 4 and 7 pm and on weekends. International faculty members from GUtech, RWTH Aachen University as well as from Belgium and Canada will teach the programme. Admissions for students with alternative qualifications are subject to the outcome of an interview,” said Prof. Dr. Nabil Sahli.

For more details, please visit the GUtech website: https://www.gutech.edu.om/master-programmes/ or contact Prof. Dr. Nabil Sahli by email to pg@gutech.edu.om.

© Text & Photo: GUtech