International Heritage Conservation Experts discussed the Future of the Bamiyan World Heritage Site

SALALAH Under the auspices of H.E. Abdul Aziz bin Mohammed Al-Rowas, Adviser to His Majesty the Sultan for Cultural Affairs and President of ICOMOS OMAN, 30 international experts, high Afghan Government officials and international donors from Italy and Japan gathered for a three-day technical meeting in Salalah recently, to discuss the future of the Bamiyan UNESCO World Heritage property and to enhance international cooperation between all relevant stakeholders.

The Bamiyan World Heritage site in Afghanistan has been under UNESCO world heritage protection (since 2003). During the meeting, the participants discussed the recent decisions of the UNESCO World Heritage Committee, to improve awareness on international debates regarding the ethics of recovery and reconstruction of cultural heritage, aiming at removing the property from the list of World Heritage in Danger. The international meeting was sponsored by the government of Japan and organized jointly by the Government of Afghanistan, the UNESCO JFIT programme, the German University of Technology in Oman (GUtech) and Research Centre Indian Ocean (RIO) at GUtech.

According to UNESCO, the cultural landscape and archaeological remains of the Bamiyan Valley represent the artistic and religious developments which characterized ancient Bakhtria between the 1st to the 13th centuries, integrating various cultural influences into the Gandhara school of Buddhist art. The area contains numerous Buddhist monastic ensembles and sanctuaries, as well as fortified edifices from the later Islamic period. The area is also testimony of the tragic destruction by the Taliban of the two standing gigantic Buddha statues, which shook the world in March 2001.

To reflect on a possible application of the Omani archaeological park model to the Bamiyan World Heritage property, in Afghanistan, the participants of the international meeting undertook visits to the Land of Frankincense World Heritage property, including the Al Baleed and Khor Rohri museums and its interpretation centres. Inspired by the field visit to the archaeological park in Oman and the ICOMOS ‘Salalah Guidelines for the Management of Public Archaeological Sites’, participants actively discussed opportunities and challenges and how to further protect and promote the Bamiyan World Heritage property.

The meeting included six sessions. The  first two sessions presented the current status of the Bamiyan World Heritage Site and current issues of the development in the Bamiyan Valley respectively. The third session focused on the potential rehabilitation of the Eastern Buddha Statue and the fourth session brought up the issue of creating an Archaeological Park in Bamiyan. The following sessions were roundtable discussions regarding donor initiatives in Bamiyan and the final session presented the results of the meeting and opened the discussion for further recommendations. Activities carried out by the Government of Afghanistan, UNESCO and national and international experts, through generous financial assistance from the international community were presented to assess the progress of work in Bamiyan. During the meeting, development initiatives to increase the quality of livelihood of the local community were also introduced by the Afghan government, including a by-pass road and a stone-pavement road in front of the main Buddha cliff, as well as the Bamiyan Strategic Master Plan recently approved by the President of Afghanistan. Prof. Jansen from RIO/GUtech is actively involved in the ‘Bamiyan Cultural Master-Plan’ since 2002.

Group photo of the participants of the International Technical Meeting on the Future of the Bamiyan Heritage Site in Khor Rohri, Sultanate of Oman.

A simulation center for oil and gas operations launched

HALBAN The German company PSI Software AG has started this week its training sessions for Engineering students at the German University of Technology in Oman (GUtech). A specialized Computer Laboratory and Training Center was opened at GUtech last year, after signing a MoU with PSI Software AG. The laboratory showcases a small-scale sample industrial pipeline that is connected to an operation desk.

“Our software helps to understand the fluid transportation process within a pipeline. It is a high-end tool to increase efficiency and safety of pipeline operations,” said Dr. Aleksej Lisunkin, Technology Development Manager of PSI Software AG who is currently conducting the block seminar at GUtech. GUtech students who are enrolled in Mechanical, Process and Environmental Engineering will benefit from this unique software as well as our academic staff. PSI Software AG also plans to introduce a thesis programme for Engineering students.

“Today’s experiment shows the students an example of a real engineering work, where they are going to detect a leakage in pipelines. This PSI training centre is a unique centre here at GUtech. It will contribute to the capacity building of the Omani society. The new centre connects the simulation theory with industrial applications. The students will have the opportunity to learn an industrial software “PSIpipelines”, and they will practice the application of simulation techniques” said Prof. Dr. Najah Al Mhanna, Head of the Engineering Department at GUtech.

The PSI Software AG is the European market leader for supervision and control systems for gas, oil, electricity, heat and energy transmission and trading. PSI Software AG develops and integrates complete solutions for management of energy flows (gas, oil, electricity, heat, energy planning, transmission, and trading), production processes (mining, metals, automotive, mechanical engineering, logistics) and infrastructure for transport and safety.

The PSI Software AG is planning to use the GUtech laboratory as a Training Center for its customers in the GCC region in future.

The PSI Software AG was founded in 1969, it is based in the German capital Berlin and employs more than 1,600 persons worldwide, in projects in the US, Europe and Southeast Asia. On the Arabian Peninsula, PSI has delivered the leak detection and location system to the Kuwait Oil Company, for its countrywide gas and condensate pipeline system. Previous prestigious projects in the area of gas management applications include such ambitious and sophisticated installations as GAZPROM control systems for the onshore gas transmission pipeline system supporting Nord Stream and for the entire onshore/offshore gas Blue Stream Pipeline System in Russia.

© GUtech/ Text: Dr. Manuela Gutberlet; Photo: Umaima Al Zadjali.

“Fieldtrip Istanbul – Meeting East and West” – exhibition opens at GUtech

HALBAN Under the auspices of H.E. Ayşe Sözen Usluer, the Turkish Ambassador to Oman, the exhibition “Fieldtrip Istanbul – Meeting East and West” of the Department of Urban Planning and Architectural Design at the German University of Technology in Oman (GUtech) was opened today morning. The exhibition showcases the creative work realised during the architectural excursion of the 7th semester students. “Every walk through the city can never be made in a seminar room,” said Prof. Ercan Agirbas who organised and supervised the excursion. The exhibition showcased at GUtech includes, Turkish Ebru painting art, students’ sketchbooks and a short film about the excursion. To learn more about contemporary art, the group of students participated in a special Ebru workshop at the Sanathane art studio. Ebru is the Turkish painting on water. The Turkish Ambassador was very impressed of the students’ artworks. Referring to their Ebru art paintings H.E. Ayşe Sözen Usluer, the Turkish Ambassador said: “After your graduation you will mix with other cultures and I hope you will contribute to harmony and peace in the world”.

Prof. Ercan Agirbas explained the painting technique. “As an artist you are able to guide the colour. It is a result of your soul. You try to express your feelings on paper,” he said. During the one week excursion to Istanbul, the group visited many different places in Istanbul including the top tourist sites like the Blue Mosque, the bazar, the Museum for Turkish and Islamic Art and the Hagia Sofia, an important monument for Byzantine and Ottoman Empires which now serves a museum of the Turkish Republic. Throughout the entire week the group was guided by the Turkish tour guide Mr Attila Geridönmez. The students also visited the Turkish-German University (TAU) where they listened to different lectures and met with students. “As architects I believe we should travel to learn about other cultures,” said Aisha Al Hadrami, UPAD student. Due to the success of the excursion, Prof. Ercan Agirbas is planning to offer a summer school in Istanbul next year.

The exhibition “Fieldtrip Istanbul – Meeting East and West” is open to the public during the opening hours of the university.

Caption: Group photo with the UPAD students, the Turkish Ambassador H.E. Ayşe Sözen Usluer, Prof. Ercan Agirbas, as well as Prof. Wayne Swytzer of the UPAD Department.

© GUtech/ Text: Dr. Manuela Gutberlet; Photo: Fatma Al Balushi

Austrian Minister of Foreign Affairs visited GUtech

HALBAN As part of an official visit to the Sultanate of Oman, H.E. Dr. Karin Kneissl, Federal Minister at the Austrian Ministry of Europe, Integration and Foreign Affairs visited the German University of Technology in Oman (GUtech) on Thursday afternoon. The minister and her delegation was welcomed by the Rectorate, GUtech students and alumnis from different departments. Prof. Dr. Ing. Michael Modigell, Rector of GUtech, gave an overview of the development of the university and its achievements in the past ten years. The Minister then gave a talk on the energy transition and the growing importance of gas resources for world economies. “Oil was the main energy resource in the 20th century, gas will be the new energy resource for the 21st century,” said the Minister. The talk was followed by a short discussion with GUtech students.


A Tuesday Tourism Talk with Samih Sawiris, 19 November at the Kempinski Hotel Muscat

HALBAN As part of the regular ‘Tuesday Tourism Talks’ organized by the Faculty of Economics and Business of the German University of Technology in Oman (GUtech), the faculty will host Samih Sawiris during an evening event held at the Kempinski Hotel Muscat on 19 November, 7 pm. Samih Sawiris is one of Oman’s leading tourism investors and a leading international figure in the field of tourism and investment. “We are honored to announce this special conversation with Samih Sawiris next week. As the founder and Chairman of Orascom Development Holding (ODH.SW) he has established along with Omran two major integrated tourism projects in Oman, Jabel Sifah located in Muscat and in Hawana Salalah in Dhofar. During the upcoming talk Samih Sawiris will reflect and share insights of his extensive experience as an investor in the tourism industry worldwide, creating destinations through ‘place making’,” said Prof. Dr. Heba Aziz, Dean of the Faculty of Economics and Business at GUtech.

Sawiris is the founder and Chairman of Orascom Development Holding (ODH.SW), a Swiss-incorporated company listed on the Swiss Stock Exchange (SIX). Orascom Development is a leading developer of fully integrated destinations that include hotels, private villas and apartments, leisure facilities such as golf courses, marinas and supporting infrastructure. Through a partnership between the internationally builder of fully-integrated towns, ODH and Oman Tourism Development Company (OMRAN), the leading government arm for tourism development in the Sultanate of Oman, Muriya has invested $650 million in the past ten years in Oman. ODH, 70% shareholders in Muriya, bring with them more than 25 years of experience in developing destinations and towns in the Middle East and in Europe

Orascom Development’s diversified portfolio of destinations is spread over nine jurisdictions (Switzerland, Egypt, Montenegro, Oman, UAE, Jordan and Morocco). The Group currently owns 35 hotels, with 8,135 guestrooms and over 1,000 rooms under development in the different countries. ODH operates eight destinations; Andermatt in Switzerland, Four in Egypt: El Gouna, Taba Heights, Haram City and Makadi in Egypt; The Cove in United Arab Emirates, Jebel Sifah and Salalah Beach in Oman, Andermatt in Switzerland and Lustica Bay in Montenegro.

Samih Sawiris is also a major shareholder of Orascom Construction Industries (OCI N.V.), a Dutch based global producer of natural gas-based chemicals and engineering and construction contractor with projects and investments across Europe, the Americas, Asia, the Middle East and North Africa. He is also a significant stakeholder in Lafarage (LG.FP); a world leader in building material and major player in the cement, aggregates and concrete industries, operating in 64 countries and listed on the Paris Stock Exchange.

In addition, Samih Sawiris is part of the Sawiris Foundation, a prominent institution of economic and social aid in Egypt that provides job opportunities, trainings and placement of qualified Egyptians in the job market as well as scholarships in various colleges and universities.


Architecture students from Nagpur (India) visited GUtech

HALBAN A group of architecture students and their professors from the Institute of Design Education and Architectural Studies (IDEAS) in Nagpur (Maharashtra/ India), has visited GUtech’s Department of Urban Planning and Architectural Design (UPAD) recently.

The students and professors exchanged ideas about urban planning and architecture in the region. The group was also introduced to the ongoing work and research projects of the Department of Urban Planning and Architectural Design including the GUtech EcoHaus.

Geosteering makes Geosciences faster and more efficient

HALBAN To connect the university with the industry and to present how to overcome challenges faced in the oil industry with a unique Geosteering IT software, Dr. Vlad Karen Payrazyan gave an ‘Industry Talk’ at the Department of Applied Geosciences of GUtech. “Through geosteering, many more jobs will be created in the region in future,” said Wilfried Bauer, Head of the Applied Geosciences Department.

“A modern  Geosteering software makes geosciences related to horizontal drilling  faster and more efficient,” said Dr. Vlad Payrazyan, CEO of ROGII, StarSteer Premier Geosteerinig Software, while adding that the software can increase in particular the precision for horizontal drilling which is increasingly applied worldwide. Through multi-well real time geosteering, data integration and cloud collaborative technologies more  oil rigs can be monitored at the same time delivering excellent well placement results. Dr. Vlad Payrazyan and his team are currently visiting the GCC; he has been visiting Oman for the first time. Previously Dr. Vlad Payrazyan has been working on various projects in Russia, Venezuela, Brazil and in United States. “The geosciences industry has to adapt to changes and increasing challenges,” said Dr. Vlad Payrazyan. The world is moving from an easy drilling environment to difficult environmental challenges including tight shale resources, horizontal wells, big volumes of data, cost reduction and automatization. In addition, during the planning and drilling phase of the oil well geoscientists face various uncertainties, where a special geosteering software, such as StarSteer can support their work, through the analysis and integration of data from different sources (offset wells, seismic, chemostratigraphy, MWD/LWD, image logs, etc. real time geosteering and other cutting-edge technologies such as machine learning, predictive analytics and cloud virtual collaboration.

Dr. Vlad Payrazyan and his team are planning to support GUtech students with a special IT software and to train the students on the application. “I enjoy working with universities around the world while sharing my day to day experiences and challenges faced in the oil and gas industry,” said Dr. Vlad Karen Payrazyan. Five years ago together with two other partners he started the company that now employs more than 60 people in 9 international locations with over 200 clients among oil and gas operating and service companies around the world.

Dr. Vlad Karen Payrazyan received his PhD in Geosciences at Nancy Polytechnical University and an Executive MBA at INSEAD in France. For over 20 years he has worked for in the oil and gas industry, with Chevron (USA), Yukos (Russia), British Petroleum (UK) etc. He has also served on Management Boards and Board of Directors of major joint venture companies in Russia, Venezuela and Brazil.

© GUtech/Text & Photo: Dr. Manuela Gutberlet

German Parliamentary State Secretary visited GUtech

HALBAN The German Parliamentary State Secretary of the Federal Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure, H.E. Steffen Bilger, visited the German University of Technology in Oman (GUtech) on Thursday morning. He was accompanied by H.E. Thomas Schneider, Ambassador of the Federal Republic of Germany to the Sultanate and a small delegation including the Private Secretary to the Parliamentary State Secretary, Dr. Joachim Eichhorn as well as Susanne Symalla, Counsellor for Transport and Digital Infrastructure in the GCC at the Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany in Abu Dhabi. The Parliamentary State Secretary is currently on a two-day visit in Muscat.

At GUtech the delegation was welcomed by the Rectorate of the university, Prof. Dr. Ing. Michael Modigell, Dr. Hussain Al Salmi and Dr. Armin Eberlein as well as academic and administrative staff. The visit focused on the academic development of GUtech, the first German university on the Arabian Peninsula since its establishment in 2007 as well as on its study-programmes in Logistics and in Computer Sciences. Both fields are related to transport and the digitalization of everyday life. Currently, more than 250 students study logistics at GUtech. The delegation also visited the GUtech EcoHaus, that was introduced to them by Amal Al Balushi, a GUtech alumni of the Department of Urban Planning and Architectural Design. In 2013 the GUtech EcoHaus was awarded for its outstanding design and energy efficiency during a student competition of The Research Council (TRC). The EcoHaus currently serves as a continuous research project for students to collect data related to its architectural design and its environmental efficiency.


(c) GUtech/ Text: Dr. Manuela Gutberlet; Photo: Fatma Al Balushi


Vice-President of the German Bundestag visited GUtech

HALBAN The Vice-President of the German Bundestag (Parliament), H.E. Thomas Oppermann, and his accompanying delegation visited GUtech in the afternoon. The delegation who is currently on a three day visit to Oman included MP Christian Lange, Parliamentary State Secretary, MP Stefan Liebich and MP Katja Suding, all members of the German Bundestag. The delegation was accompanied by the Ambassador of Germany to the Sultanate of Oman, H.E. Thomas F. Schneider, the Frist Counsellor Joachim Düster from the German Embassy and Counsellor Ingo Schendel, interpreter at the German Embassy in Riyadh. The Vice-President and his delegation was welcomed by the Rector of GUtech, Prof. Dr. Ing. Michael Modigell, who introduced the university and spoke about its development within the past eleven years.

The Vice-President then met with two exchange students from GUtech’s partner-university RWTH Aachen University and Omani and non-Omani members of the GUtech Student Council, who represent the students. “We are the voices of the students. We act as mediators. If there is an academic problem the students can contact us,” said one of the Student Council members. The students spoke about their studies at GUtech and their summer internships abroad or in Oman. Asked about their future dreams, several students expressed their wishes to conduct an internship or pursue their Master’s studies at a university in Germany. “You showed me what a university is about. You are very inspiring young persons. We wish you good luck for your future careers. We will support the university,” the Vice-President of the Bundestag said in his farewell address to the students. Towards the end of the visit the delegation visited the GUtech EcoHaus and the Science Centre, both buildings are located on the GUtech campus.


(c) Text & Photo: Dr. Manuela Gutberlet



Five unique Master’s programmes launched

MUSCAT Under the auspices of H.E. Eng. Mohsen bin Mohammed Al Sheikh, Chairman of Muscat Municipality, five Master’s programmes were launched at the Crown Plaza Hotel Convention and Exhibition Centre in Muscat yesterday evening. A number of dignitaries and representatives of different industries and ministries in Oman attended the event as well as GUtech alumnis and GUtech employees. “We wish to educate students that are not only experts in their fields but responsible and creative thinkers who will shape the future of Oman and the region,” said Prof. Dr.-Ing. Michael Modigell, Rector of GUtech in his speech. The five Master’s programmes were designed in collaboration with GUtech’s partner-university, RWTH Aachen University. All Master’s programmes have received the approval of the Ministry of Higher Education in Oman. The Master’s programmes include ample practical insights through internships and practical projects, for example at RWTH Aachen University (Germany), the University of Brescia (Italy) or at the University of Vienna (Austria).

The new Master of Business Administration (MBA) will offer a double degree from GUtech and the prestigious Vienna University of Economics and Business (WU). The programme was introduced by Prof. Dr. Heba Aziz, Dean of the Faculty of Business and Economics at GUtech. It supports Oman’s national strategy to encourage entrepreneurship, logistics and tourism. “The programme aims at professionals with at least three years of professional experience. We hope to attract many students from the region. 75 per cent of the MBA programme will be taught by academics from the University of Vienna,” said Prof. Heba Aziz.

The new MSc in Architecture and Urban Planning is a unique programme in Oman and in the region. “The main challenges for the region are to design quality public spaces and to cope with the rapid urbanization. In our programme we wish to create links between the local culture, the performance of buildings and the urbanity with its social network,” said Dr. Gustavo de Siqueira, Head of the Department of Urban Planning and Architectural Design (UPAD) at GUtech. The MSc programme was developed in close cooperation with RWTH Aachen University. The final thesis can be co-supervised by professors from GUtech along with professors from RWTH Aachen University.

“To respond to the growing need for experts in the field of geology, the Department of Applied Geosciences has developed a new Master’s programme, covering hydrogeology, mineral resources and petroleum geology,” said Prof. Wilfried Bauer, Head of the Department of Applied Geosciences. Fieldwork will be an essential part of the programme as well as laboratory work, e.g. for seismic interpretation or mineral analysis. Graduates will be qualified for positions in various fields of Geosciences e.g. in natural resources exploration but also in emerging economic sectors like geotourism or offshore exploration. The programme is open for candidates with internationally accredited bachelor degrees in relevant fields of study.

The MSc in Industrial Production and Manufacturing has been designed in cooperation with the University of Brescia (Italy). “A graduate of the programme will be an expert in material extraction, processing, innovative, high automation and sustainable manufacturing,” stressed Prof. Dr. Najah Al Mhanna, Head of the Department of Engineering. The programme will offer six weeks internships conducted in Oman or abroad, e.g. at the University of Brescia and a MSc thesis and colloquium. Students with a background in mechanical engineering, production, industrial, process engineering and Material Sciences will be eligible to apply for the programme.

The MSc in Computer Sciences is a four semester programme that has been designed to respond to the increasing digitalization of our everyday lives. Students may also opt for part-time studies and will then need more than four semesters to finish the programme. “The degree programme is open to fresh graduates and to working professionals with bachelor degrees,” said Prof. Dr. Nabil Sahli, Head of the Department of Computer Sciences while adding that IT experts holding a Master’s degree are needed in the region. If the MSc student in Computer Sciences chooses to study an additional semester at the University of Hasselt (Belgium), the student will get a second Master degree in Transportation Sciences from the University of Hasselt. After graduation, there are ample career opportunities for MSc graduates, e.g. in transportation, traffic safety, public transportation etc.

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(c) GUtech/ Dr. Manuela Gutberlet