Germany in Sketches: A Visual Journey by Omani Students – An Exhibition on 9 April

An exhibition at the German Embassy in Muscat

MUSCAT A sketchbook is a common possession for architecture students worldwide. The Department of Urban Planning and Architectural Design (UPAD) of GUtech will showcase a large number of student works at the German Embassy in Muscat on the 9th April 2019 at 2 pm.

In November last year, a group of twelve UPAD students and Prof. Gazmend Kalemi conducted a field-trip in collaboration with Beuth University in Berlin and RWTH Aachen University, GUtech’s partner university in Germany. The study tour was sponsored by the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD). “Drawing is a vibrant way of engaging with people and our natural and built environment. During the excursion, we followed the long tradition of travelers attempting to capture different places and atmospheres with their pencils and sketchbooks, collecting visual experiences and to bring them back to their home countries,” said Prof. Gazmend Kalemi, who initiated and supervised the two-week field trip. He added that the importance of advanced design software cannot be denied, but so-called free-hand drawings are essential to understand the environment. “While drawing, we spend considerable time in the physical field to enhance our perception and memory. Drawing involves internalising the object, feeling it in our being and starting a dialogue with it. It is, of course, a way of thinking with the hand,” said Prof. Gazmend.

Appreciating the students’ and professors’ efforts, the German Ambassador to Oman, Thomas Schneider, emphasized the vivid partnership between Germany and Oman: “Not only does our Embassy building itself stand as an example of a successful Omani-German partnership in the field of architecture – projects such as the exchanges  between GUtech und RWTH Aachen contribute to lasting, lively relations between people as well as between institutions”.

The students’ first destination was Berlin, Germany’s capital, located in the north-east of Germany, with a population of 3.6 million inhabitants. “Berlin is well-known for its rich history and architecture. It is a treasure to observe and draw. The arts scene and its diversity are significant and a magnet for young people,” said Prof. Gazmend. The group visited various historical sites, where they experienced how the old meets the new architecture, such as Alexanderplatz, Museumsinsel and Reichstag. The group also worked together with students from Beuth University. In spring 2016 students from Berlin, supervised by Prof. Gerd Sedelies, had visited GUtech and various sites in Oman producing beautiful sketches. “Now we have spent time working together and exchanging our experiences in Berlin. Another highlight was an invitation to Oman’s Embassy in Berlin where we enjoyed Omani hospitality and generosity. At RWTH Aachen University we worked intensively on a small urban design project, experiencing the morphology and the urban identity of the city and its surroundings, which is very different from Muscat. Of course, for Omani students the diversity in culture, people and life in Germany and in Europe was a new and challenging experience. I think after this trip Germany and European culture will be viewed differently by our students and this will reward them both on a personal as well as a professional level” said Prof. Gazmend Kalemi.

The students and Prof Gazmend extend their thanks to the German Embassy in Muscat for showing their sketches at the Embassy. They are also grateful that the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) provided them with the opportunity of a memorable drawing and sketching experience.

If you wish to attend the opening of the exhibition on 9 April, please register by e-mail to or by phone call to 2469 1218 ext. 819 with your name, e-mail address and/or mobile number.


(c) Text & Photo GUtech: Prof. Gazmend Kalemi and Dr. Manuela Gutberlet





The Institutional Standard Assessment of OAAA was conducted at GUtech

HALBAN The Oman Academic Accreditation Authority (OAAA) conducted the visit for the Institutional Standard Assessment of the German University of Technology in Oman (GUtech) last week. An international panel of higher education experts visited the university and conducted interviews with GUtech staff members. “Valuable contributions were given by representatives of the Board of Governors, Board of Directors, staff and students of GUtech as well as a number of external stakeholders including employers of our graduates, internship hosts, scholarship providers  and most important are our GUtech alumni,” said Dr. Alma Enriquez, Head of Quality Assurance and Planning Department of GUtech. The OAAA panel members were highly experienced experts from Australia, Austria, Portugal and Oman. The Standards Assessment determines GUtech’s ability to meet OAAA internationally benchmarked external standards and criteria. GUtech already went through the OAAA’s Quality Audit in 2013. The report of the audit is published online on OAAA’s website.

“The OAAA Quality Audit report already confirmed the high quality of GUtech, its programmes and its facilities. Now we are going through Institutional Standards Assessment, which looks into the details of nine different standards,” said Dr. Armin Eberlein, Deputy-Rector for Academic Affairs. He added that GUtech found the preparation for this event useful in strengthening quality processes. Within a few months, the OAAA will provide GUtech with a detailed report of its findings.

The Oman Academic Accreditation Authority (OAAA) initiated a review and revision of the institutional standards which govern the accreditation of higher education institutions in Oman in 2011. Once a university has been accredited, the university is required to go through Standards Assessment every five years in order to maintain their accreditation status. The Standards Assessment is an extensive audit covering every aspect of the operations of an institution.


GUtech students win the third place in the AAPG Imperial Barrel Award

HALBAN Five Applied Geosciences students have won the third place in the prestigious AAPG Imperial Barrel Award semifinals that were held at GUtech in the past days. The students who are studying in the their final year in Applied Geosciences had to solve different geological tasks in groups such as analyzing a data set including geology, geophysics, production infrastructure, and other relevant materials for an oil exploration in the North Sea. “Our GUtech team with Anwaar, Jahina, Omer, Sara, and Shihab won the third place which is a great success, they worked very hard and achieved results that normally can only be expected on the level of Master Students,” said Prof. Dr. Wilfried Bauer, Head of the Department of Applied Geosciences. The Department of Applied Geosciences has been hosting the annual event for the first time. On the second day, all students from competing universities participated in an excursion through the Oman Mountains, led by Prof. Dr. Wilfried Bauer and Prof. Dr. Ivan Callegari, where they had a chance to study typical reservoir and source rocks of the Arabian Platform and their structural styles in the field.

Each team had to deliver their results in a 25-minute presentation to a panel of industry experts and professors. Students had the chance to use state of the art technology on a real dataset, receive feedback from an industry panel of judges, network with potential employers in the audience, and win cash awards for their school. The judges selected the winning team on the basis of the technical quality, clarity and originality of presentation. The AAPG Imperial Barral Award is a hands-on opportunity for students to experience the creative process and the high-tech science that is the foundation of the Energy Industry today.

Students from Sultan Qaboos University (Oman) won the first place followed by the Lebanese University (Lebanon). The winning team will participate in the final competition to be held in Texas (USA). Students from King Abdulaziz University, Hashemite University, the University of Jordan, Kuwait University, United Arab Emirates University and Yarmouk University participated in the competition.

(c) GUtech/ Dr. Manuela Gutberlet and AGEO Department

Intelligent Technologies in the Construction Sector

“The Construction Industry meets University for Innovation”

MUSCAT The third joint SAP-GUtech/OES Industry workshop highlighting challenges and opportunities of the digitalization of the construction industry was held at the Crowne Plaza Muscat Convention and Exhibition Centre yesterday. GUtech assumed the task to set-up a SAP NextGen Chapter in 2018. SAP has been facilitating a SAP Dual Training for 25 SAP selected students.

“The construction industry contributes with 9% to the Oman’s GDP and is the country’s largest employer. The sector has a huge potential for job perspectives related to Intelligent applications. Our intention with this workshop is to create solutions that enhance socio-economic growth values for society and for its citizens,” said Heiderose Moossen, Manager Vocational Training and Industry Relations, GUtech, TSSC Department and main organizer of the event. Especially Building Information Modelling, Augmented Reality, the Internet of Things, in-memory and graph computing could provide new business value and operational excellence.

To link the academia and the industry, GUtech has set-up a NextGen Lab in collaboration with SAP last year. “We wish to listen to students, our future employees and build up their skills for the future,” said Mohsen Al Lawati, Accounts Manager at SAP who introduced SAP to the audience. The construction industry is one of the least digitalized sectors worldwide,” said Mohsen Al Lawati.

Challenges and opportunities of digitalization for the construction industry are diverse, including empowering females and reducing the gender gap in the construction and engineering field. “We female architects would like to go to the construction site” said Rafia Al Bahlani, a young architect who works for Atkins. Intelligent technologies could facilitate more female employment opportunities in operations.

Prof. Dr. Nafaa Jabeur from the Department of Computer Sciences at GUtech said in his presentation on the “Intelligent Construction from the Sky” that there are many opportunities for the application of drones in the construction sector in Oman. These opportunities include enhancing operations while facilitating communications between decision-makers and workers, monitoring the daily progress of the construction site, 3D modeling, volumetric measurement, thermal imaging, optimizing costs for project management and maintenance, reducing health and safety threats, to improve the quality of work.

Jobin George, Business Development Manager from Bauer Nimr Oman introduced the application of the SAP Business One Software in Project Management. Bauer Nimr has been using SAP to streamline operations and to simplify processes, multiple cost units and to optimize the overall user productivity while creating more transparency.

The Industry workshop closed with an open forum and a discussion, where the audience discussed and collected their vision on challenges, opportunities and the way ahead for Intelligent Technologies in the Construction Sector. Most feared is the high investment for systems, that digitalize and re-engineer operations of an organization and support its Project Management processes. However, these systems can also help save money: ARAMCO logged in their accounts 80 Mio USD / anno by introducing a customized SAP systems, that run its operations streamlined, efficiently with regard to cost and time savings. The opportunities would be found in safer construction sites, raise skill levels, gender equality, as site progresses can be monitored by women from their office desks. Eventually smart industries will become the norm and facilitate life and work quality for blue- and white collar employees alike.

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

Students receive German language certificates

HALBAN A group of eleven GUtech students has successfully passed the German language certificate, Language Exam A1 of the Goethe Institut, the German Language and Culture Centre. “The certificate is the first internationally recognized German language certificate that has been issued by the Goethe Institut,” said Myriam Steinbock, German lecturer at GUtech.

Studying German is part of the curricula at GUtech; students study the language for three semesters. However, the language of tuition at GUtech is English.

The 90 minutes exam evaluates the speaking, writing and listening skills of students. Some students had the chance to already practice their language skills in Germany. Although English is widely used in international companies and at universities, it is an asset to speak and communicate in German on a daily basis. GUtech fosters exchange between Germany and Oman, especially through its German partner-university RWTH Aachen University. Each year a number of GUtech students from various departments participate in language courses, laboratory courses or field-excursions to Germany.

German is one of the most important languages worldwide and the most spoken language within the European Union. Around 103,5 million people are German-native speakers in Europe; German is the official language in Germany, Switzerland and Austria.

Photo Exhibition on the Aga Khan Award for Architecture opens

‘Architecture is an approach to solve a problem’

HALBAN Under the auspices of Farrokh Derakhshani, Director of the Aga Khan Award for Architecture, the Department of Urban Planning and Architectural Design (UPAD) of GUtech has opened a special photo exhibition about the Aga Khan Award for Architecture on campus today. The exhibition has been sponsored by Argan Towell.

“Architecture is an approach to solve a problem,” said Farrokh Derakhshani, Director of the Aga Khan Award for Architecture, in his opening speech while adding that architecture is a way of changing and impacting the life and well-being of people. He has been associated with the Award since 1982. Farrokh Derakhshani trained as an architect and urban planner at National University of Iran and later continued his studies at the School of Architecture in Paris (UP1). His main field of specialisation is contemporary architecture of Muslim societies. He has served as a jury member at various international competitions, schools of architecture and collaborated on a large variety of publications on architecture.

Some of the awarded architecture and urban planning projects that are on display in the exhibition are the ‘Issam Fares Institute’ in Beirut (Lebanon), ‘the Superkilen’, a public space in Copenhagen (Denmark), the Friendship Centre in Gaibandha (Bangladesh), a rural training centre inspired by an archaeological site and the Tabiat, a pedestrian bridge in Tehran that connects two urban parks. “This exhibition shall inspire students to submit and participate in an architecture competition,” said Prof. Nikolaus Knebel from the UPAD Department.

The Aga Khan Award for Architecture has been given to a total of 116 projects since 1977. The award is given every three years to projects that set new standards of excellence in architecture, planning practices, historic preservation and landscape architecture. Through its efforts, the award seeks to identify and encourage building concepts that successfully address the needs and aspirations of societies across the world, in which Muslims have a significant presence. The current prize fund is a total of US$ 1,000,000. The exhibition at GUtech is open to the public and will run until April.


‘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.


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